Plowing

Sapello, NM(Zone 5b)

Anybody here interested in plowing info? I've got a reprint of a 1909 plowing manual that I think has a lot of good info in it that I can post if anyone's interested. It's got a lot about how and why and timing. Like...

"Plow, if possible, when the soil will drop from the moldboard in a mellow, friable condition.
It is better to plow when too dry than when too wet, and don't delay the work too near seeding time."

It was published by John Deere for walking plows, but a lot of it seems relevant to any kind of plowing. In 1909, they made at least 27 different kinds of walking plows!

Jay

Waddy, KY

It always amazes me the folks that insist on working wet ground around here. Then they wonder why their stuff looks like crap during the growing season and why eventually they end up with a major hardpan.

Sapello, NM(Zone 5b)

That's why I thought it might be worthwhile to post this old pamphlet... we've lost a lot of knowledge. Once farms stopped being passed down through families, a whole wealth of experience and knowledge became essentially unavailable to the new people moving out of the city and into the country. I mean... 27 different plowshares, depending on the soil and use! Now there's like... one or two available for tractors. I wonder if the plow pan may in part be due to the lack of diversity in modern plowshares, as well as poor practice?

Here's another little nugget...

"Plowing should be shallow when it precedes seeding but a short time.
Plow as long before planting as possible, so the soil will have ample time to settle into good seed-bed condition and store up moisture for the coming crop.
Deep plowing enlarges the moisture reservoir and gives more root room."

southeast, NE

Interesting. A lot of farmers around here are going to no till with no plowing.

Sapello, NM(Zone 5b)

Yeah, no till is a great new development. And there are still good reasons to plow... like my 10 acres of weeds, a neglected alfalfa field that has been overrun with thistle. Or if you're doing a rotation system, and this is the year the pasture gets plowed down and planted to a crop, or you're plowing down a cover crop.

The Nordell's have done some good work with observing the effect of soil temp on decomposition rate. In the cool of the spring, when they plowed down their cover crops, the green manure was fermenting rather than breaking down. So now they skim plow no more than 3" deep in the spring to aid the breakdown of green manures. When the soil is warm in the midst of summer they do deep plowing. Their observations have bearing on this next bit...

"Late fall and winter plowing destroys weeds and insects.
When a green crop or heavy coat of manure is to be turned under, plow early so the organic matter will have time to decay and the soil become settled before seeding.
Have the seed-bed loose and well pluverized on topm but frm and well packed underneath."

Now we know that it's bad practice to fall/winter plow every year due to topsoil erosion, but as an occasional weed/insect management, it still has merit. I'm hoping to do some strip plowing this fall to start knocking out the weeds. Tell me what you think... 100' strips plowed between 100' strips left tall, partly as wind break and partly as wild life habitat. Next year I'll switch strips.

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