well, just thought I'd share my success at tuning a 30 year old gravel road into a cornfield. This is the first year that we will be successfully harvesting corn, after one year of cover crop and manure spreading. Also put wood chips and sawdust into the soil. The ditches going down either side of the road have been filled with brush. manure and old hay. It's a horseshoe shaped road that was put in to service a subdivision. However none of the lots ever sold, and we were lucky enough to buy it a year ago and annex it to our homestead. The whole property is wooded except for the road. We also have winter squash, buckwheat, oats and forage peas growing in it to feed our livestock. It can be done.
I am very impressed that you recognized a resource in the precleared land. I would be very interested in learning of any complications you had to overcome that were specific to this project. This is the kind of thing that can help give hope to a lot of people trying to rehabilitate compacted soils, such as the many people trying to grow in old parking lots. I never would have thought turning of a gravel road into a field.
well the road was originally put in 30 years ago to develop a subdivision. It has ditches on either side which I have been filling in with wood and compost for hugel beds. The previous owner had the road vacated and the lots made whole, so it is basically a horseshoe shaped clearing a half mile long that is in the middle of a 20 acre woods. over the last thirty years it has remained vacant and undeveloped, so weeds and wildflowers took over. There were 30 year old white pines and cottonwoods growing in it as well which I pulled out with the tractor and shoved into the ditches and buried. I spread tons and tons of cow manure by hand and planted oats and buck wheat followed by corn. The corn did okay but it didn't get very tall, averaged two ears per plant and they were small, but saved a few thousand on feed last year by feeding the whole plant to the cows and pigs. Hopefully it will be even better this year. The biggest obstacle was soil crusting from the small bits of gravel making it difficult for the seeds to break through. This year instead of raking dirt over the seeds, I will sprinkle compost over the seeds in the trench to prevent the crusting. Also I will presoak the seeds for better germination. More manure and bedding. Oh, and when they made the road they scraped all the topsoil off and piled it in the woods, I have been pulling 30 year old trees out of the piles and spreading it back into the field and onto the hugel ditches.