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Using Plant roots for aeration

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JMJ Farms

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Ebenezer made a comment in the other thread. Didn’t want to hijack that one so I started a new one. Regarding aeration, he said “use plant roots”. This strategy interests me immensely because I think he’s excatly right. I think that’s the way nature intended it. However, I’m not sure I know the proper way to go about it. I just got done installing 6000’ of extra cross fences on one farm in effect creating 7 almost equal size pastures that should allow me to rotate every four days thus letting each pasture rest for 24 days. I’m hoping this is gonna help. If not I’ve just created a lot more fencework. Any suggestions, thoughts, or insights from reading or seeing as to the best way to naturally improve soil health, water retention, etc?

*Im not organic or anti fertilizer or anything like that. But I am looking for a way to minimize fertilizer inputs as they are my single biggest expense, including pastures and hayfields.
 

sim.-ang.king

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Not usually, but they can just be thrown on top of the ground before or after a rain. As long as the grass is short so it gives them some room to get started.
 

Tbrake

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I do a lot of fall turnips and tillage radishes into farm fields for grazing and cover crops.
Both of those work very well broadcasting, but neither like competition.
 

Jogeephus

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Depends a lot on your soil type. A clay soil is going to be a lot different than a sandy soil but generally as a whole you are better off not trying to push your productivity too high. I think this is a common mistake.
 

BRYANT

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there is a special radish that they use , they get very large, any one know what they are?
 

ClodHopper37869

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BRYANT

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I wonder if they would grow if they were broadcast with rye on a un-tilled hay field
 

hurleyjd

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Elbon rye is deep rooted and after it dies in the early summer the roots that are left decay and will wick the moisture into the ground.
 

1wlimo

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We are using several methods, rotational grazing where they are only on the spot for a day really helps, so does bale grazing, but we only have a limited supply of animals and hay so I am going to try no-tilling in a rye brassica mix next spring to some pasture. We do have swath grazing, some of which was no-tilled this year, and that looks to have increased productivity even in a hard growing season. Looking to find the benefits in the future.
 

Ebenezer

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Bahiagrass has been used in field crop rotations for disease suppression and for deep roots for hardpan penetration. I doubt that I can find the reference but at one time the planting of sudangrass or sorghum sudangrass, allowing it to get to 4' and then mowing as high as possible (max 18") created the largest weight of roots after the cutting or any species tested. Those roots when decayed were a big kickstart to OM increase and soil improvement. For any forage or plant to have the deepest of roots it has to have adequate to mature growth height without a lot of cutting or grazing to shortness.

Soil health has become a catchall phrase. A chemical company can use it to sell a spray, a fertilizer company can use it to sell a fertilizer and the bigger problem to me are the magazine authors who write about it prior to studying about it and merely think that soil health is a new phrase to describe soil fertility (NPK and minor elements). It is definitely linked, good or bad, to chemicals, fertilizer and other things but is more "earth, plant and animal" in thought than mere inputs. I had the chance to hear Dr. Ray Archelleta and his cohorts a few times and that was eye opening.

Where I differ a bit, is that I want to rush the process on some poor piedmont soils. Daddy used to say that there were spots where a pea would have to roll around to find a home. To get to where I need to be to start the plant/soil relationship, I have resorted to and will continue to use doses of poultry litter as well as lime to kick start the nutrients, to moderate the the soil chemistry and profile and to advance the growth of plant mixes as needed. Plant mixes are important rather than monoculture. Decreasing or eliminating soil disturbance is key. Always maintaining ground cover as much as possible is also key. We fight a huge battle on OM in the SE USA with higher moisture, hot weather and warmer winters.

But we visited a farm in north GA a few weeks ago that had OM at 5% at a 9" depth. Pastures looked great. An intense rotation program and a high stocking rate. And I'm guessing that off farm litter and manure had sped the process up. Sure beats the old adage that "it takes 100 years to form an inch of topsoil".
 

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