Best break crop for busting compaction

crashbox

Member
Livestock Farmer
Thoughts on whether compaction can be resolved with root crops? E.g. fodder radish.

Got some ground that was dug for gravel and topsoil dozed back on (v. thin in some places), decades ago but drainage has been horrendous ever since.

TIA
 
Location
Ceredigion
Thoughts on whether compaction can be resolved with root crops? E.g. fodder radish.

Got some ground that was dug for gravel and topsoil dozed back on (v. thin in some places), decades ago but drainage has been horrendous ever since.

TIA
What do you want to do with it after , are you going to graze the cover crop ? Whats it growing now ?
 

sheepdogtrail

Member
Livestock Farmer
How much force is required to push a small shovel in? I have tried drilling radishes on ground that was too compacted. They germinated, grew and at some point started growing upwards instead of downwards into the pan. If they did anything at all, they improved the soil structure only in the first inch. Not really what I was hoping for. Learning from that, if I understand your situation correctly I would subsoil as deep as you can go and then harrow or disk the best you can and then plant Chicory over the top. In 5 years time you might have something to start working with to build up to soil again.
 

Ysgythan

Member
Livestock Farmer
Location
Ammanford
How much force is required to push a small shovel in? I have tried drilling radishes on ground that was too compacted. They germinated, grew and at some point started growing upwards instead of downwards into the pan. If they did anything at all, they improved the soil structure only in the first inch. Not really what I was hoping for. Learning from that, if I understand your situation correctly I would subsoil as deep as you can go and then harrow or disk the best you can and then plant Chicory over the top. In 5 years time you might have something to start working with to build up to soil again.
They’re supposed to grow upwards aren’t they?
 

sheepdogtrail

Member
Livestock Farmer
There are different types of radishes.

Driller radishes are suppose to grow downward with there spike shaped end. Only about a inch or 2 of the root at maturity will be sticking up if the soil is not overly compacted leaving 12" + below the surface.
 

JD-Kid

Member
sunflower ment to be good even rapes etc etc will put roots down a fair way some radishes will only go solar then the bulb part will grow up out of ground
there is one called lunch ment to lock in to soil and drill down more
a good blend of deep rooting plants and some with a good root mass oats etc will help Alot at breaking up soils and building them up might not be a one hit wonder tho might need to do it a few times
 

Kiwi Pete

Member
Livestock Farmer
How much force is required to push a small shovel in? I have tried drilling radishes on ground that was too compacted. They germinated, grew and at some point started growing upwards instead of downwards into the pan. If they did anything at all, they improved the soil structure only in the first inch. Not really what I was hoping for. Learning from that, if I understand your situation correctly I would subsoil as deep as you can go and then harrow or disk the best you can and then plant Chicory over the top. In 5 years time you might have something to start working with to build up to soil again.
^^^ couldn't have said it better

Sometimes soils that have been dug and replaced seem to "tank"

that is you have a top tank and a bottom tank and nothing connecting them - no percolation, no "pan" as such but it could be ½inch plate

basically the plants that grow just confine themselves to whatever active soil they have and stop there, and it limits them.

Probably the best course is to use a subsoiler, yes it will possibly slump back to a worse state but it gives roots somewhere to go - I'd probably subsoil a couple of years ahead of time if possible

Roots seldom travel looking for anaerobic or toxic environments, and if land is both compacted and regularly fertilised then it usually creates those conditions - like alot of crop ground, it's basically a broadacre hydroponics operation, and it won't change while being fed from the top
 

crashbox

Member
Livestock Farmer
What do you want to do with it after , are you going to graze the cover crop ? Whats it growing now ?
I'm a cattle farmer so happy to graze it, but if there's more benefit letting it grow then mulching it into the ground prior to a Spring reseed, we'll do that.
Plan is to clean up the old permanent pasture ready to go in with a deep rooting herbal ley.
Esp. reluctant to plough this field.
 

crashbox

Member
Livestock Farmer
^^^ couldn't have said it better

Sometimes soils that have been dug and replaced seem to "tank"

that is you have a top tank and a bottom tank and nothing connecting them - no percolation, no "pan" as such but it could be ½inch plate

basically the plants that grow just confine themselves to whatever active soil they have and stop there, and it limits them.

Probably the best course is to use a subsoiler, yes it will possibly slump back to a worse state but it gives roots somewhere to go - I'd probably subsoil a couple of years ahead of time if possible

Roots seldom travel looking for anaerobic or toxic environments, and if land is both compacted and regularly fertilised then it usually creates those conditions - like alot of crop ground, it's basically a broadacre hydroponics operation, and it won't change while being fed from the top
Never considered that KP.
Given where we are, better to subsoil now immediately prior to sowing root crop?
Main objective is to achieve a good deep rooting ley next year...
 

Kiwi Pete

Member
Livestock Farmer
Never considered that KP.
Given where we are, better to subsoil now immediately prior to sowing root crop?
Main objective is to achieve a good deep rooting ley next year...
I would! If you have the gear to do it

I don't think you can make it worse... (well, obviously you can make it worse but it's unlikely) because you really need water to get in and air to follow.

Plants do it in time, subsoiler does it in less time and then you bring the whole process forwards a few seasons?

The ultimate would be someone's subsoiler that's setup for OSR, and put radish in the slot ahead of winter
 
Location
Ceredigion
I'm a cattle farmer so happy to graze it, but if there's more benefit letting it grow then mulching it into the ground prior to a Spring reseed, we'll do that.
Plan is to clean up the old permanent pasture ready to go in with a deep rooting herbal ley.
Esp. reluctant to plough this field.
I would stick some Rye on it have some usefull feed it the spring for mowing or grazing before you put your new ley in , keep it simple , main thing is you have a clean field to drill into next spring and not to much residue to deal with , do you not want tp plough due to the soil depth ?
 

Sid

Member
Livestock Farmer
Location
South Molton
I would stick some Rye on it have some usefull feed it the spring for mowing or grazing before you put your new ley in , keep it simple , main thing is you have a clean field to drill into next spring and not to much residue to deal with , do you not want tp plough due to the soil depth ?
Be cheaper to subsoil it
 

crashbox

Member
Livestock Farmer
I would stick some Rye on it have some usefull feed it the spring for mowing or grazing before you put your new ley in , keep it simple , main thing is you have a clean field to drill into next spring and not to much residue to deal with , do you not want tp plough due to the soil depth ?
Yes topsoil too thin to plough, just bring up subsoil and bury all the good stuff.
RE weed burden there's all sorts there (docks, nettles, thistles, meadowgrass), and leatherjackets etc. Given its been down as grass for 30+ years
 
Location
Ceredigion
Yes topsoil too thin to plough, just bring up subsoil and bury all the good stuff.
RE weed burden there's all sorts there (docks, nettles, thistles, meadowgrass), and leatherjackets etc. Given its been down as grass for 30+ years
You defo need a break crop then , then go for a stale seedbed in this spring ,get rid of some of the weeds before you put the Herbal ley in
 

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