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Land clearing in KY

bigbluegrass

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This farm is 80% wooded, mostly with cedar trees. I want to clear most of the wooded areas, especially the cedar, and turn it into pasture. I got a start on that last month. I caught a break in the weather for a few days. I did the work with a Case 1155E track loader, which I bought last year.


It is only about 1, maybe 2 acres. Just a start. This spring/summer I hope to really get going with the land clearing.

Then I set some bales out there for a KY style bale graze - on the hillside. I set the bales in place with the loader, because I am very skeered of taking my old 2WD tractor on this hillside.




I am rotating the cows through the bales now. Should have enough hay out there to get me to May. Now I need to figure out what to plant and when. I could and probably should do a soil test. I have tested the soil around this farm in the past and I get pretty consistent reports with a PH in the high 5s to low 6s. I am short on P in every report. I am high in K. N varies. I have plenty of Ca. I have a few months to finalize the planting sequence. It will be broadcast seeded, because I am not driving on the hillside anymore than I need to. Right now I am thinking of doing a seeding in the spring using buckwheat, sweet yellow clover, maybe millet and some other cover crop type of plants just to get some roots in the ground. I could graze that off over the summer and then plant the perennial grasses like fescue in the fall. Does anyone have any suggestions on what to plant on this ground and on any I clear over the summer to get an established pasture?

I want it to looks like this in a few years.


 

Margonme

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You are within the famous Cincinnati Arch geological uplift.  The parent material for soil formation is Ordovician limestone.  Those soils are high in P.  You should make sure you are not reversing P and K.

I used a 2005 D3G LGP Cat dozer to clear my farm.  The results were excellent as I could grade my surface after clearing and use the tracks and cleats to track in the seed.  Here are some suggestions:

1.  My fall seeding produced the best results.  I seeded from the middle of August until the 3rd week of September.  That provided enough time for a good stand to face the winter.
2.  You will be clearing land that will be exposed to erosion until time when it can be seeded.  On surfaces that will lie idle until seeding, cut erosion ditches perpendicular to the slope to control erosion and capture topsoil.
3.  Land that is cleared and left idle until seeding can be left rough.  Then in late summer before fall seeding, you can finish grade it and prepare a seedbed.  If you do not have grade equipment, use something like a chain drag to loosen and smooth out the surface.
4.  Make sure your seed is in good contact with the soil.  I tracked my seed in with the dozer.  Run the dozer up and down the slope.  An added benefit is that the cleats provide erosion protection and a microenvironment for seed germination.
5.  Your slopes do not appear that steep.  You should be able to broadcast your seed with a cyclone broadcaster on the 3 point hitch.

I used a seed mix called Beef Pasture Mix.  It included:
Fescue
Orchard Grass
Ledino Clover
Red Clover
Bluegrass
Ryegrass
I don't remember the percentages.

The county cattle association had their annual field day at my farm after my pasture renovation.  The theme was forages and the UK agronomist were delighted with the pastures.
 

bigbluegrass

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Margonme

The dozer you used and the loader I have are similar in that they are track machines. But what you used looks a lot nicer! Mine is a 1994 machine. A bit more HP than what you used, but no dozer blade. Much cheaper.

1. I have had good luck with fall seeding also, so I intended to plant as much in the fall as possible. I might just have to do small areas each fall, depending on how much I can get done in a year.

2/3. do you think a summer cover crop would help hold the soil in place? It could be grazed off in the late summer or early fall or just roll it down with the loader tracks before fall seeding. Or will that be a mistake?

4. I have a loader vs a dozer, but I think I can use the teeth to dig/scrape the top. The cleats do put nice lines in the ground.

5. It is plenty steep. The picture is very deceiving. It looks like the bales are right next to each other and in reality they are 30 ft apart. I won't be driving on the hill, probably ever with anything other than the track loader. I can broadcast the seed with a shoulder seeder, which I already have. You didn't drill yours in?

Is that seed mix from Southern States? If it is, I used it before.

Did you burn the trees or just pile them up?

Here are the soil reports from areas near here and areas that will be cleared later. The pH is higher than I remember:





 

bigbluegrass

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Jabes0623":1g8ioitj said:
I did a similar project last year, turned out really good. Covered it pretty well here...

http://www.cattletoday.com/forum/viewto ... 14&t=98504

If you have any specific questions PM me be happy to help if I can.

Thanks Jabes! Yours looked like it turned out really well. I read yours as it was going on, but I don't remember any specifics. Did you use any cover crops or did you go right to perennials? Did you burn the piles of trees or leave them to rot? I will read through your posts again and see if I can get any new information, now that I am going to be starting my own project.
 

Jabes0623

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No cover crops. Limed & fertilized & then sowed a grass/legume mix mid fall. I found that time of year to be a really nice to work on this kind of project.

I did burn the big brush pile, before I sowed the grass seed if recall correctly. One heck of a fire; burnt big for 3 days & smoldered for well over a week.
 

kenny thomas

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I would feel u need a cover crop at least to keep down the weeds. But the next month is about the best time to seed fescue and clovers on open ground. I'm gonna frost seed both into steep pastures where I'm unrolling hay.
 

Margonme

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bigbluegrass":1xa5ymnk said:
Margonme

The dozer you used and the loader I have are similar in that they are track machines. But what you used looks a lot nicer! Mine is a 1994 machine. A bit more HP than what you used, but no dozer blade. Much cheaper.

1. I have had good luck with fall seeding also, so I intended to plant as much in the fall as possible. I might just have to do small areas each fall, depending on how much I can get done in a year.

2/3. do you think a summer cover crop would help hold the soil in place? It could be grazed off in the late summer or early fall or just roll it down with the loader tracks before fall seeding. Or will that be a mistake?

4. I have a loader vs a dozer, but I think I can use the teeth to dig/scrape the top. The cleats do put nice lines in the ground.

5. It is plenty steep. The picture is very deceiving. It looks like the bales are right next to each other and in reality they are 30 ft apart. I won't be driving on the hill, probably ever with anything other than the track loader. I can broadcast the seed with a shoulder seeder, which I already have. You didn't drill yours in?

Is that seed mix from Southern States? If it is, I used it before.

Did you burn the trees or just pile them up?

1. I was lucky with weather and I was retired, I completed about 50 acres the first year.

2/3. I did not need a cover crop. I left my cleared areas rough. There were holes, uneven surface, dips and ridges. Water and Soil got captured before it could run very far. I graded and prepared the seedbed immediately before seeding. In your case, a cover crop might be helpful.

4. Yes the cleats or more proper, grousers, and tracks are ideal for tracking in seed.

5. I did not use a drill. As mentioned, I got outstanding germination. In fact, the Clover in the first year was a problem. I lost a cow that bloated on Clover. The vet came out and told me I needed to get the cows off the pasture. I had to pen the cows up until I could rotary mow the pastures with a bush hog.

I got the seed mix at the Mayslick Mill, The Hinton Mill company.

I could not read the soil reports. Just be sure that you are reading Phosphorous correctly. In central Kentucky soils are generally high in Phosphorous and low in Potassium. I use
Muriate of Potash (MOP).
 

bigbluegrass

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kenny thomas":2x5elrlu said:
I would feel u need a cover crop at least to keep down the weeds. But the next month is about the best time to seed fescue and clovers on open ground. I'm gonna frost seed both into steep pastures where I'm unrolling hay.
Stocker Steve":2x5elrlu said:
kenny thomas":2x5elrlu said:
I would feel u need a cover crop at least to keep down the weeds.

2X

If you can find mature hay the cattle will seed it for you.

Do you think the hay I am feeding would have enough seeds in it? I found some seedheads, but I have no idea if it is viable seed.

I figured I could do some spring cover crop to hold the soil in place, suppress the weeds and start the microbial activity in the ground this spring and summer. Then next fall seed down the grass. Maybe I am adding an unnecessary step.
 

greybeard

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Jabes0623":3qte9jw1 said:
No cover crops. Limed & fertilized & then sowed a grass/legume mix mid fall. I found that time of year to be a really nice to work on this kind of project.

I did burn the big brush pile, before I sowed the grass seed if recall correctly. One heck of a fire; burnt big for 3 days & smoldered for well over a week.
I've had some smolder for months if I didn't get to them to work them over, even in rainy times. You'd think they would be done, then look out on a windy night and see them glowing or a wisp of smoke in daytime. Takes a long time for big oak tops and stumps to burn completely.
 

bigbluegrass

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Margonme":3sanh7n9 said:
1. I was lucky with weather and I was retired, I completed about 50 acres the first year.

2/3. I did not need a cover crop. I left my cleared areas rough. There were holes, uneven surface, dips and ridges. Water and Soil got captured before it could run very far. I graded and prepared the seedbed immediately before seeding. In your case, a cover crop might be helpful.

4. Yes the cleats or more proper, grousers, and tracks are ideal for tracking in seed.

5. I did not use a drill. As mentioned, I got outstanding germination. In fact, the Clover in the first year was a problem. I lost a cow that bloated on Clover. The vet came out and told me I needed to get the cows off the pasture. I had to pen the cows up until I could rotary mow the pastures with a bush hog.

I got the seed mix at the Mayslick Mill, The Hinton Mill company.

I could not read the soil reports. Just be sure that you are reading Phosphorous correctly. In central Kentucky soils are generally high in Phosphorous and low in Potassium. I use
Muriate of Potash (MOP).

Did you burn your piles or just leave the trees piled in the creek bottoms? I have seen it done both ways. I prefer to burn the piles as I go, but it does add a step.

I plan to clear as I have time. I am self employed, so I can sometimes take a long weekend or just take a "vacation" if work is slowing down.

Sorry about the size of the soil reports. I don't know how to make them bigger. But if you click on the reports it should enlarge them and you can zoom in. P is 23 to 11 and classified as Low. K is 253 tp 402 and classified as "High". Mg is also high. pH is 6.9 to 7.5. Report recommends Triple Superphosphate and Muriate of Potash.
 

Margonme

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bigbluegrass":3803o18a said:
Margonme":3803o18a said:
1. I was lucky with weather and I was retired, I completed about 50 acres the first year.

2/3. I did not need a cover crop. I left my cleared areas rough. There were holes, uneven surface, dips and ridges. Water and Soil got captured before it could run very far. I graded and prepared the seedbed immediately before seeding. In your case, a cover crop might be helpful.

4. Yes the cleats or more proper, grousers, and tracks are ideal for tracking in seed.

5. I did not use a drill. As mentioned, I got outstanding germination. In fact, the Clover in the first year was a problem. I lost a cow that bloated on Clover. The vet came out and told me I needed to get the cows off the pasture. I had to pen the cows up until I could rotary mow the pastures with a bush hog.

I got the seed mix at the Mayslick Mill, The Hinton Mill company.

I could not read the soil reports. Just be sure that you are reading Phosphorous correctly. In central Kentucky soils are generally high in Phosphorous and low in Potassium. I use
Muriate of Potash (MOP).

Did you burn your piles or just leave the trees piled in the creek bottoms? I have seen it done both ways. I prefer to burn the piles as I go, but it does add a step.

I plan to clear as I have time. I am self employed, so I can sometimes take a long weekend or just take a "vacation" if work is slowing down.

Sorry about the size of the soil reports. I don't know how to make them bigger. But if you click on the reports it should enlarge them and you can zoom in. P is 23 to 11 and classified as Low. K is 253 tp 402 and classified as "High". Mg is also high. pH is 6.9 to 7.5. Report recommends Triple Superphosphate and Muriate of Potash.

It was a long push but I windrowed along the drainages. Avoid blocking/obstructing the flow channel. It will force the water to cut new channels. I did that by error in a couple places and the result is a new channel that is unstable. I burned a couple piles but mostly windrowed and left it to rot. It rots fast in this climate.

You look good on the P and K. Good luck. You will like the results and so will your cattle.
 

bigbluegrass

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Margonme":bnxofzsp said:
It was a long push but I windrowed along the drainages. Avoid blocking/obstructing the flow channel. It will force the water to cut new channels. I did that by error in a couple places and the result is a new channel that is unstable. I burned a couple piles but mostly windrowed and left it to rot. It rots fast in this climate.

You look good on the P and K. Good luck. You will like the results and so will your cattle.

I am guessing the trees have all rotted down now? Did you need to go back and dress the areas where the windrow was up again and seed them down? I know you sold the dozer, which is what I intend to do with the loader.
 

bigbluegrass

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Jabes0623":3hri0bbd said:
No cover crops. Limed & fertilized & then sowed a grass/legume mix mid fall. I found that time of year to be a really nice to work on this kind of project.

I did burn the big brush pile, before I sowed the grass seed if recall correctly. One heck of a fire; burnt big for 3 days & smoldered for well over a week.

Did you graze your new pasture this year?

I noticed on your picture taken after you planted grass, that you had a pile of stuff in the middle of the picture. Was that after you burned it? Did you need to go back and clean that up later?
 

Margonme

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bigbluegrass":yy4ueg17 said:
Margonme":yy4ueg17 said:
It was a long push but I windrowed along the drainages. Avoid blocking/obstructing the flow channel. It will force the water to cut new channels. I did that by error in a couple places and the result is a new channel that is unstable. I burned a couple piles but mostly windrowed and left it to rot. It rots fast in this climate.

You look good on the P and K. Good luck. You will like the results and so will your cattle.

I am guessing the trees have all rotted down now? Did you need to go back and dress the areas where the windrow was up again and seed them down? I know you sold the dozer, which is what I intend to do with the loader.

The windrows are about gone. They rot and disappear like an ice cube melts. The succession of plants keeps up with the rotting. So no need to seed.

I did well on the dozer. Sold it for $500 less than I bought it for. Bought it off Machinery Trader from a guy who is a car salesman in Mississippi. Talk about taking a chance! Oddly, everything he said was dead on. I still contact him about once a year. He is on my Facebook. I enjoyed that dozer more than any machine I have ever owned. If I had a bad day, all I had to do was get in the seat and the world was fresh and interesting. If I were 10 years younger, I would buy another farm just to have an excuse to buy another dozer to clean it up.

:cboy:
 

bigbluegrass

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Margonme":3iols3k8 said:
The windrows are about gone. They rot and disappear like an ice cube melts. The succession of plants keeps up with the rotting. So no need to seed.

I did well on the dozer. Sold it for $500 less than I bought it for. Bought it off Machinery Trader from a guy who is a car salesman in Mississippi. Talk about taking a chance! Oddly, everything he said was dead on. I still contact him about once a year. He is on my Facebook. I enjoyed that dozer more than any machine I have ever owned. If I had a bad day, all I had to do was get in the seat and the world was fresh and interesting. If I were 10 years younger, I would buy another farm just to have an excuse to buy another dozer to clean it up.

:cboy:

Under the windrows, did grass come up or was it more trees or saplings?

It almost sounds like you want to come over here and run my loader and clear some land :) If it is that therapeutic for you, who I am to deny you :cboy:
 

Margonme

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bigbluegrass":1umlfn1y said:
Margonme":1umlfn1y said:
The windrows are about gone. They rot and disappear like an ice cube melts. The succession of plants keeps up with the rotting. So no need to seed.

I did well on the dozer. Sold it for $500 less than I bought it for. Bought it off Machinery Trader from a guy who is a car salesman in Mississippi. Talk about taking a chance! Oddly, everything he said was dead on. I still contact him about once a year. He is on my Facebook. I enjoyed that dozer more than any machine I have ever owned. If I had a bad day, all I had to do was get in the seat and the world was fresh and interesting. If I were 10 years younger, I would buy another farm just to have an excuse to buy another dozer to clean it up.

:cboy:

Under the windrows, did grass come up or was it more trees or saplings?

It almost sounds like you want to come over here and run my loader and clear some land :) If it is that therapeutic for you, who I am to deny you :cboy:

LOL. Does your track loader have Joysticks?

Grass mostly. Except in black locust areas. Those things come up in bunches. Need to get on them and keep them mowed.
 

bigbluegrass

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Margonme":2j565u1m said:
bigbluegrass":2j565u1m said:
Margonme":2j565u1m said:
The windrows are about gone. They rot and disappear like an ice cube melts. The succession of plants keeps up with the rotting. So no need to seed.

I did well on the dozer. Sold it for $500 less than I bought it for. Bought it off Machinery Trader from a guy who is a car salesman in Mississippi. Talk about taking a chance! Oddly, everything he said was dead on. I still contact him about once a year. He is on my Facebook. I enjoyed that dozer more than any machine I have ever owned. If I had a bad day, all I had to do was get in the seat and the world was fresh and interesting. If I were 10 years younger, I would buy another farm just to have an excuse to buy another dozer to clean it up.

:cboy:

Under the windrows, did grass come up or was it more trees or saplings?

It almost sounds like you want to come over here and run my loader and clear some land :) If it is that therapeutic for you, who I am to deny you :cboy:

LOL. Does your track loader have Joysticks?

Grass mostly. Except in black locust areas. Those things come up in bunches. Need to get on them and keep them mowed.

Haha yes it has joysticks! It has 4 levers. The front two have positions of high neutral and low for left track and right tract, the two levers closest to the operator have positions forward neutral and reverse for each track. There is a 5th lever for hi-lo. I find it tricky to operate on the hills. When you put it in neutral it is supposed to gradually slow that track down, but on a hill it rapidly increases in speed, causing you to rotate the opposite direction you thought.

I am surprised grass came up. I thought it would mostly be saplings.

You must not have gotten much dirt in the piles or I would think you would need to go back and clean them up later. I had a friend clear a small area. As those trees rot down there is a 12"-24" berm of dirt that is showing up. I am sure some if from the rotten wood, but some is soil.
 

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