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Trenching Machine Planting

 
S Haze
Posts: 226
Location: Southern Minnesota, USA, zone 4/5
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duck forest garden trees woodworking
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Hi permies!

I'd like to ask the crowd here what you think about using a mechanical trenching machine for planting trees.

I've got a couple hundred trees on the way here and I've spoken with a neighbor about renting his trenching machine for planting as well as running some seasonal livestock watering lines and an electric line. My plan is to make shallow trenches where I want the trees and maybe widen or rough up the sides if it looks like it needs it. My time is limited so naturally I'm nervous about getting that many trees in the ground and protecting the investment. I'm hoping that the trencher will speed things up enough so I can focus more on mulching, watering, and protection from critters as well as seeding support species. Also I might consider running a water line (not irrigation for the trees) deeper in the same trench. I wonder if or when the roots could mess up a black poly pipe.

Any thoughts?

 
R Scott
Posts: 3304
Location: Kansas Zone 6a
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What kind of soil? Trees? Terrain? Climate/rainfall? Size of trencher? Size of trees? Spacing of the planting?

It will work, but you run the risk of drowning the roots if you have clay. It also is not as fast as you think if you are planting on bigger spacing. If you want a tree every foot or two, yeah it is a fast way to do it-run a trench on contour and GO. If the spacing is 10+ feet, a post hole digger is usually faster.
 
S Haze
Posts: 226
Location: Southern Minnesota, USA, zone 4/5
11
duck forest garden trees woodworking
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Heavy clay loam soil with good high OM topsoil.

Variety of trees: chestnut, apple, siberian pea shrub, trying some paw paw, black locust...

River bank terrain with some elevation change surrounded by flat plains

USDA zone 4, almost 5. 31 inches of annual rainfall

Smaller sized trees 1-3 ft.

Spacing will vary, most of it 4-10 ft.
 
S Haze
Posts: 226
Location: Southern Minnesota, USA, zone 4/5
11
duck forest garden trees woodworking
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R Scott:
I like the website by the way! Is it new? Looking forward to seeing it expand and thanks for all of the helpful replies you've contributed.
 
R Scott
Posts: 3304
Location: Kansas Zone 6a
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Website is fairly new, but I need to upgrade it some already. LOL. I should just add a Facebook feed so I can just do things once...

I am assuming based that this is a big trencher capable of getting to frost line and digs 4" wide or so, not a little wimpy lawn sprinkler one. Tree roots will mess up poly, eventually crushing/constricting it. But that may be longer than the useful life of the pipe anyway.

I am 110% for any machine that gets you to plant more trees easier. I have used mini excavators, keyline plows, 3 point post hole diggers, manual post hole diggers, dibble bars, shovels, front and loaders, Auger bits in big electric drills, and probably a few other ways I can't remember right now to put in trees. 3 point post hole digger is probably my favorite IF you don't have rock. hand augers beat you up. Keyline plow is awesome for broadcast and decent ground, followed with spade or dibble bar for the trees. Never used a trencher for trees, but have run a trencher to put in power and water on my land. It was a pretty slow process. I could drill a post hole every 4 feet way faster. In my clay, ymmv.
 
Rhys Firth
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The NZ Farm Forestry association once looked at planting shelter belts along the edges of paddocks via trenching machines.

Well, via a mole plough anyway, close enough I don't think a trencher would be much different.


They found the roots would grow sideways along the break line in the soil and not many sideways out into the undisturbed soil. following the path of least resistance, and years down the track with a good head of leaves to act as a sail, were prone to falling over with insufficient ground support.



Ramming a crowbar in and wiggling it to form a conical hole, dropping in the bare rooted sapling and stomping the soil back against the truck was found to be the best and most efficient way, leaving the soil equal in all directions so the roods grow all 360 degrees.
 
R Scott
Posts: 3304
Location: Kansas Zone 6a
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Good to know. "the man who planted trees" was so right.

 
S Haze
Posts: 226
Location: Southern Minnesota, USA, zone 4/5
11
duck forest garden trees woodworking
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Maybe I'll rent a post hole digger for the skid steer instead, if it looks like a bigger hole would be good. I could use some additional holes around here anyway. I'll try the crowbar method first. Thanks for the replies!
 
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