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tillage radish

 
cedar jay jones
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I've been reading a lot about these radish and was wondering if anyone can share first hand experiences with them, thanks
 
John Elliott
pollinator
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I planted some the first winter I moved onto my piece of the "bright red Georgia clay". I have anywhere between 4" and 10" of poor soil on top of heavy clay that goes down at least 100 feet (the kaolin mine down the road can vouch for the local geology). I was amazed to see that tillage radish would bore right in, because during the summer when it dries out, the clay takes on the hardness of concrete.

But planting tillage radish is only one tool to improve soil fertility. It may drill in, but it has insufficient biomass to increase the soil carbon much. For that, I also used truckloads of wood chips. Tillage radishes can lift up out of the ground so that their crown is 4-6" above grade. This allows you to put down a heavy layer of mulch and as the mostly-water radish rots, the mulch can fill in the hole and support more soil life.

I can't say that tillage radish improves the worm population of the soil. When I pull up a tillage radish, I never find an earthworm in the roots; they seem to prefer lurking among the roots of dandelions, chicories, and other tap roots that have a lot of side branching. Maybe the fact that radish is fairly smooth until you get quite a ways down makes it unappealing to worms.
 
Mike Gaughan
Posts: 26
Location: Central CT, Zone 6
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I have used tillage radish as a garden cover crop for the last several years (CT zone 6). I typically plant in early September so the radishes can put on good fall growth before winterkilling. They need pretty good soil fertility and moisture to grow. Also, I found that fairly light seeding rates work best to provide adequate growing space. I have experimented with planting radish in a mixture with oats and crimson clover but found the radish tended to dominate the other cover crops, so now I plant them in exclusive stands. They do reliably winter kill in my climate and pretty much rot away by early spring, leaving nice holes in the ground. The downside is the occasional rotten radish odor, and my dog loves to dig them up and eat them! Experiment and have fun!
 
John Polk
steward
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Location: Currently in Lake Stevens, WA. Home in Spokane
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They do reliably winter kill in my climate and pretty much rot away by early spring, leaving nice holes in the ground. The downside is the occasional rotten radish odor

Though I haven't grown them myself (yet), I have heard stories regarding that odor. Neighbors have called the gas company reporting what they thought was a gas leak ! So, if you are in/near an urban area, keep your eyes peeled for gas company workers wandering around with meters in their hands. LOL
 
Todd Parr
Posts: 665
Location: Wisconsin, zone 4
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John Elliott wrote:I planted some the first winter I moved onto my piece of the "bright red Georgia clay". I have anywhere between 4" and 10" of poor soil on top of heavy clay that goes down at least 100 feet (the kaolin mine down the road can vouch for the local geology). I was amazed to see that tillage radish would bore right in, because during the summer when it dries out, the clay takes on the hardness of concrete.

But planting tillage radish is only one tool to improve soil fertility. It may drill in, but it has insufficient biomass to increase the soil carbon much. For that, I also used truckloads of wood chips. Tillage radishes can lift up out of the ground so that their crown is 4-6" above grade. This allows you to put down a heavy layer of mulch and as the mostly-water radish rots, the mulch can fill in the hole and support more soil life.

I can't say that tillage radish improves the worm population of the soil. When I pull up a tillage radish, I never find an earthworm in the roots; they seem to prefer lurking among the roots of dandelions, chicories, and other tap roots that have a lot of side branching. Maybe the fact that radish is fairly smooth until you get quite a ways down makes it unappealing to worms.


I do the same. I plant the radishes to break up my soil, and then cover them with wood chips.. It works very well for me.

I have had the opposite experience with worms though. The worms here seem to like the radishes, and I find them regularly.

They do stink when they rot. Quite a bit actually.
 
Thomas warren
Posts: 67
Location: Yakima County, E WA
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This is good to know. I have some heavily compacted soil with a lot of gravel. Its labor intensive to remove the gravel, and after that is still compactive acting. I'll be testing radish and other things as a way of breaking it up on different parts of the soil in different conditions this year.

 
Brad Mayeux
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i love using radish.
the tuber is only part of the benefit.
the "tap root" actually extends down several feet below the main tuber.
there is a chart somewhere on different plants ability to punch through hard clay
and the tillage radish was up at the top.
the small root hairs that go several feet deep can be used for air, water and worms once it rots away
the worms slime coats the hole and becomes a pre-fertilized channel for the next plants roots.

i am a backyard gardener (but have lots of sub-tropical and rare fruit trees)
and i always plant radish and wild mustard (for the leaves) before planting a tree
they just seem to condition the soil.
 
eric koperek
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TO: Cedar Jay Jones
FROM: Eric Koperek = erickoperek@gmail.com
SUBJECT: Tillage Radish
DATE: PM 6:19 Wednesday 9 Mars 2016
TEXT:

(1) "Tillage radish" = forage radish are varieties of Japanese radish = daikon specifically selected for having very large tap roots that can penetrate 10 to 24 inches into the soil. The root system of tillage radishes normally extends 6 to 7 feet down into the subsoil. MAKE CERTAIN THAT YOU BUY ONLY NAMED VARIETIES OF TILLAGE RADISH SELECTED FOR BIG TAP ROOTS. Do not buy VNS = "variety not stated" seed. Do not buy "oil seed radish" as these varieties do not have big tap roots. Many farmers buy the wrong kind of seed and then complain that tillage radishes do not work. Don't make this mistake.

(2) Tillage radish should be planted in the FALL, about 60 days before average first frost. Declining day length stimulates plants to produce big tap roots. TILLAGE RADISH PLANTED IN SPRING WILL NOT FORM BIG TAP ROOTS. If you want early season weed control, plant any kind of Japanese forage radish seed = the cheapest seed available. Daikon grows very rapidly and will overwhelm most spring weeds.

(3) All kinds of Japanese radish are highly sensitive to field traffic = step on plants and you will kill them. For best results, stay out of fields = do not graze or run equipment over fields planted with daikon.

(4) Tillage radish works well with no-till agriculture systems, especially where crops are broadcast seeded. For best results use pelleted seed. For example: Grow a crop of tillage radish. When frost kills radishes, immediately top seed = over seed with a low growing nitrogen-fixing legume like Dutch White Clover = Trifolium repens and a winter cereal like barley, oats, wheat, or rye. Tillage radishes rot leaving tens of thousands of deep holes per acre. Holes channel water and air into the soil for improved crop growth. Clover and winter grain germinate and grow together. The clover suppresses most weeds. Harvest grain in late Summer as normal. The Tillage Radish--Dutch White Clover--Winter Grain rotation works best if you can irrigate the grain crop. Expect about 40 bushels per acre of wheat (up to 80 bushels per acre if grain is irrigated and soil fertile).

(5) Expect 15% to 20% yield increases for small grain crops following Japanese tillage radish. Yield increases are due mostly to improved soil moisture. Very little rainfall escapes fields planted with daikon tillage radish. The holes soak up water like a sponge. 4 inch to 6 inch rains disappear right into the soil like water through a colander.

(6) Japanese tillage radish STINKS while plants are decomposing. Do not plant tillage radish fields near your neighbor's house!

(7) Stock beet = Mangel-Wurzel = Beta vulgaris can also be used like Japanese tillage radish. Both crops have been used since the Middle Ages to "till" fields where conventional plowing was not possible.

( Do not plow land following Japanese tillage radish or you will destroy the matrix of holes and defeat the purpose of planting a tillage crop in the first place.

(9) "How Do I Grow Tillage Radish?" is one of the most frequently asked questions on my website. I get so many inquiries that I have published a short article on the subject. Please read "FORAGE RADISH PRIMER" at www.agriculturesolutions.wordpress.com -- or -- www.worldagriculturesolutions.wordpress.com -- or -- send your questions to: Agriculture Solutions, 413 Cedar Drive, Moon Township, Pennsylvania 15108 USA -- or -- send an e-mail to: erickoperek@gmail.com

 
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