Why are mature trees so sensitive to transplantation? I think the owner wants large trees because their leaves produce more organics, long term mending strategy. But maybe planting a mix of semi drwarves for immediate fruit production, alongside some variety of trees that produces a lot of leaves might be a good alternate solution?
Can you check if I get these right?
1- clay soil is naturally fertile but the compact structure and water impermeability prevents the roots from breathing.
2- mending clay soil requires a short term and long term strategy
2a- short term is done by mixing organics with the soil
2b- long term is done with cover crops (clover?)
3- preventing water logging is important and done by planting trees in burms above surface
4- A swale a trench where the burm part is mixed with organics, and that burm is where planting occurs.
5- A swale allows water to move, a huggel culture does not.
6- water moving is ok with roots, water stagnating causes root rot.
Equipment they have:
a default bobcat skid steer
A hand held 16" gas powered Auger, no backhoe.
The Auger is an absolute nightmare to use in this soil and nearly useless in my experience as digging with shovel ends up being faster even to install posts. The last time I worked on that land, I mixed water thinking that it would soften the soil, instead it turned it into glue.
The default bobcat might be good enough to dig trench for swale building, but mixing organics in so much burm (100 trees worth) will need a clever solution. The first thing that comes to mind is doing a hybrid huggel/swale by digging a trench 2x the width, place logs in one half and push the earth over that half. Any better idea?
I wonder if having them invest in one of these helps.