• Post Reply
  • Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic

Forest Garden Soil Prep, Plow before Subsoiler?

 
Jose Reymondez
Posts: 137
Location: Galicia, Spain Zone 9
2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
So I am going to have a subsoiler in here soon and the man who does the job came here to take a look at the soil. The field has been either plowed for years or sheep pastured for years, so there is subsurface compaction in some place and deeper compaction in others.
He strongly recommended plowing before using the subsoiler, otherwise the subsoiler would take a long time to cut through the soil because of the grasses on compacted soil, the roots and compaction would make it so that the tractor would have to start and stop.

He said that it would be faster and thus cheaper, to plow first, wait a few days, then subsoil.

These are my concerns. Its going to be December, I live in zone 9 so I could still sow a winter cover crop after he gets the job done but I don't know if the cover crop would grow fast enough to hold the soil before the rains come back. This climate gets a buttload of winter rain, like 40inches/1000mm just from Nov-April is possible. From my understanding, the rains would cause considerable leeching and soil loss on freshly plowed soil. My slope here is about 1 meter of drop for every 7 meters of distance. The good news is that he mentioned the option of plowing/subsoiling on contour before I even had to bring it up, which was a relief. So perhaps if it is done on contour, it wouldn't be so bad?

I need to get this done now because I have a lot of trees already and trees coming in that need to be planted this winter.

Opinions? Advice?
 
John Elliott
pollinator
Posts: 2310
77
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I would not be in favor of using the subsoiler.

One thing that could go wrong is that you would just move the compaction zone lower in the profile, under the blade of the subsoiler. The other, as you have noted, is that with all the good soil turned over and exposed at the beginning of the rainy season, you could lose a lot of the benefit of de-compaction to erosion.

How about just sewing a cover crop of tillage radish and disking it under in the spring? Radishes really do a good job in zone 9 if they get a lot of rain during the winter, and they can break up hard pan with roots that go down 2 meters or more.
 
Miles Flansburg
steward
Posts: 3669
Location: Zones 2-4 Wyoming and 4-5 Colorado
134
bee books forest garden fungi greening the desert hugelkultur
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Plowing causes a loss of nutrients and organics too doesn't it?

What about a keyline type of plow?

 
Jose Reymondez
Posts: 137
Location: Galicia, Spain Zone 9
2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
There are only two yeomans in Spain, and they are on the opposite side of Spain. I was lucky enough to see one of them, its in Tarragona.

I hope to get one on this coast some day.
 
Jose Reymondez
Posts: 137
Location: Galicia, Spain Zone 9
2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I forgot to mention that I have clay soil.

Hey John, the guy also mentioned a type of plow that is basically one hook or blade, I'm not sure what it's called, that would create a furrow or opening in the soil that is used in tree plantations.

The upside is that I do have a bunch of daikon radish seed I could sow.

The downside is that it would be killer to dig the 100 nice deep holes in that compacted soil that I need to plant trees in hehe.
 
John Elliott
pollinator
Posts: 2310
77
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Jose Reymondez wrote:I forgot to mention that I have clay soil.

Hey John, the guy also mentioned a type of plow that is basically one hook or blade, I'm not sure what it's called, that would create a furrow or opening in the soil that is used in tree plantations.

The upside is that I do have a bunch of daikon radish seed I could sow.

The downside is that it would be killer to dig the 100 nice deep holes in that compacted soil that I need to plant trees in hehe.


I was going on the assumption that you have clay. My piece of Georgia clay was as hard as concrete when I got here 4 years ago. The daikon that I planted the first fall did a good job getting the compaction broken up and then tilling in some wood chip mulch the next spring made for a good garden.

What type of trees are you planting? I have found that what really helps with fruit trees is to use a high-pressure hose nozzle to drill some holes (a meter deep if you can) in the tree's root zone and pack it with decaying wood and biochar. If your subsoiler is set at 2 feet, then the trees may still have a problem with clay below that level. Once you break into the lower levels with some drill holes, it makes it easier for the trees to send some roots down and then branch out from there.
 
Jose Reymondez
Posts: 137
Location: Galicia, Spain Zone 9
2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Thanks for the info, I had a lot to think about. I was thinking of burying some rotten wood around the trees as well as leaving some wood scattered on top of the soil as you would find in a forest.

I'm planting a little bit of everything.

Holly, Cork, Burr, Coast Live Oak
Spanish Chestnut
Various Juglans
Prunus everything
Crataegus species
Red Alder
Italian Alder
Elaeagnus species
Jujube
Pomegranate
Fig
Mulberry
Hazel
Kaki Persimmon
Honey Locust
black locust nativized here so I already have some volunteers
plus more
 
John Elliott
pollinator
Posts: 2310
77
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Wow, impressive list. Here's my relevant experience with these -- for what it's worth:

Oaks: if you are starting these from acorns, find some mushrooms growing under an established oak tree to inoculate them with.

Juglans: Really benefit from hydraulically drilled holes that are backfilled with decomposing wood. I know that they grow in places with limestone bedrock close to the surface, but if the ground under them takes a lot of work and energy to break into, it seems the tree grows very slowly.

Pomegranate: This is one that you can neglect and it will still establish itself and do well. They seem to thrive in all sorts of places, including extremely arid places.

Fig: I haven't noticed that extra mulch helps figs very much. It seems they self-mulch with their leaves in the fall, and dumping on a lot of extra mulch at other times doesn't do much to change things.

Mulberry: I had one of these in Las Vegas, and it was impossible to kill. Kept coming back, even after being severely pollarded. It must have had a tap root that had made its way down to the aquifer under the town and it was not about to give up growing.

Kaki Persimmon: I'm building hugelbeds in lines that ends up at my persimmon trees. So far they have been growing slowly; I'll have to wait and see if the hugelbed being next to them makes them take off next year.


 
Paul Cereghino
gardener
Posts: 855
Location: South Puget Sound, Salish Sea, Cascadia, North America
15
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I suspect that is enough slope that you could start getting rills on bare ground. What you can economically do for erosion control depends of the area you are trying to manage. Getting a layer of straw down can really reduce erosion, and help seed germination.

Some kind of tillage, followed by seeding is the fast way to shift your ground cover composition away from grass. Once the trees are in, your options for this kind of broadscale disturbance are much less, depending on how much land you are working.

You could plot and subsoil in contour strips, and then come back and work the alleys in spring.

I suspect the reduced competition from sod, and the flush of decomposition will make your radish crop grow stronger and faster, increasing the decompaction effect--synergy between disturbance and your annual. I am doubtful that a single pass with a ripper would create a new plow pan at a lower elevation. If I were doing a large installation, I would value the large scale decompaction, and resulting ease of planting, and improved cover crop establishment.

 
I agree. Here's the link: http://richsoil.com/cards
  • Post Reply
  • Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic