Is ploughing bad ?

CORK

Member
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The worst yield of wheat I've ever had was a 'non inversion' 2nd wheat. A soil borne fusarium disaster of a crop that died 3 weeks early. So again, how does DD cope with 2nd wheat crops?

I ask, because ploughing between cereals allows me to grow 25% of the farm in second wheat (5 year average 3.7t acre), and 25% in 3rd wheat (5ya 3.8t/a). In a year like this, it blows every other GM out of the water, regardless of saving a few quid on establishment.
Rotational change forced me to have a 3rd wheat for harvest 21. Yielded same as second wheat. Both strip till drilled into chopped straw. Yield was 10.3t/ha. (first wheats were mainly Firefly so yielded badly, they were conventionally drilled as new drill was late.) The starter to the thread is right in savings of time, labour and fuel. But, you wouldn't want to lose much yield to be losing out with wheat at £240!
We've also taken the plunge and gone down to one large tractor, slashing costs further. Have SP sprayer though.
 

Clive

Staff Member
Arable Farmer
Location
Lichfield
The report in the OP isn't wrong to my understanding, it shows what we know, that no-till leads to stratification of, amongst many things, organic matter (OM) within the soil. But stratification is not a bad thing, all soils are stratified to some extent and not just in OM. What it doesn't show, and very few if any reports show, is that over a number of years no-till (and genuine mob-grazing if managing grassland) can actually build soil which is where big increases in OM and functionality arise. Mob-grazing grassland does this very quickly, listen to Joel Salatin talk about how much soil he has built over his shallow rock in the US where he couldn't even get a electric fencing stake in the ground, due to there not being enough soil over the rock, when he started out 40 yrs ago.

We can all agree that we can grow a tremendous crop of wheat with relatively low N where we plough out long-term grass, slightly less yield when after a short term ley in an arable rotation for similar N, and we can have a similar effect where we cultivate no-till fields. After 2-3 yrs of cultivation this effect wears off and we need to use more N to get the same yield. Why is this? Is it because we have built 'fertility' through not moving the soil? What is this fertility? It's carbon in simple terms, or OM. Where we routinely move the soil, i.e. long term arable, we need to use a lot more N to get the same yield as we could immediately after long-term grass and low N, indicating to me that we have exhausted the fertility , or carbon, stored in the soil. This is where we have soils which are around 3-4% OM and don't drop any lower.

So can we actually build soil, and OM? I believe so, looking at the soil of very long term no-tillers in the UK there is a visible difference in the colour and quality (aggregation & porosity) whilst also an ability to reduce N whilst not loosing yield indicating we are raising the 'fertility' (carbon) content of the soil. We also see an increase in infiltration rates, some soils can no handle 6 inches of rain per hour without a problem. Any ponding that occurs disappears much faster than before.

Cultivated soil may accept rainfall quickly when its dry but once that cultivated layer wets up it is unable to accept any more rain because the natural connectivity between the subsoil and topsoil is broken. The water cannot percolate into the subsoil as fast as it can into the top cultivated layer and so it ponds or runs-off.

Now all of what I talk about above happens on farms following a Conservation Agriculture approach, part of which is no-till, so my get out caveat is this to all those who wish to disagree. A lot of no-till I see mentioned on-here and other media (social or print) are not following this strategy, as far as I can see, and to my mind the soil 'improvement' only comes when you are following the strategy. Much like baking a cake, if you remove one of the ingredients don't expect your cake to turn out like one of Mary Berry's.

These are my experiences and I am lucky enough to work with people who have been doing it a long time, as well as helping those starting out from the beginning. I would also add that I have yet to find a soil that cannot or will not respond positively anywhere in the country.

My point is that while I don't have a problem with cultivation, why would you bother (unless you grow roots or veg etc) when you can have the upsides of less capital requirement, more time with family, less risk (yes, when done correctly its much less risky, certainly in the last two autumns before this one we had much more wheat in the ground than the average), lower inputs (but these come later).

excellent (but long !) post, perfect summary
 

Bury the Trash

Member
Mixed Farmer
excellent (but long !) post, perfect summary
Yes The writer could take over from Bernard Cribbens on Jackanory. same as a few other posters here.:oops::ROFLMAO::sneaky:

Long grass ley with livestock in the rotation is a long time proven practice short and simple answer.
if you cant do that then your soil will deteriorate what ever 'till method' is used.
well i suppose could import organic matter but on the back or diesel fuel and machinery wear and tear or bunging up the roads...
 

Warnesworth

Member
BASE UK Member
Location
Chipping Norton
Yes The writer could take over from Bernard Cribbens on Jackanory. same as a few other posters here.:oops::ROFLMAO::sneaky:

Long grass ley with livestock in the rotation is a long time proven practice short and simple answer.
if you cant do that then your soil will deteriorate what ever 'till method' is used.
well i suppose could import organic matter but on the back or diesel fuel and machinery wear and tear or bunging up the roads...
Just wait til the next edition of DD. 🤣🤣🤣
 
Let's face it, everything to do and every management technique used to grow food apart from organic cereal production, with no animal or human muck applied, is killing the planet and making it unfit for humans currently. Farming, apart from hunting/gathering…… sorry no hunting allowed [it's bad and cruel] is apparently 'bad' if not 'evil', so only gathering food should be allowed. I vote to go with the flow and give them precisely what these people want. Immediately after Christmas [I want to enjoy one last Christmas dinner].
I am just waiting for the ruling that there must be no animal excrement spread on fields that produce human food!
 

Hampton

Member
Location
Shropshire
If ploughing is as bad as made out and it’s eroding top soil so fast that we only have a few harvests left, why then do they always discover Roman mosaics and enclosures between 40cm and 1metre underground.
Surely after hundreds of years of ploughing (and the fact they were not buried by man in the first place) they would have been discovered before now.
In fact, most are only discovered by satellite photos etc, not by cultivations.
 
If ploughing is as bad as made out and it’s eroding top soil so fast that we only have a few harvests left, why then do they always discover Roman mosaics and enclosures between 40cm and 1metre underground.
Surely after hundreds of years of ploughing (and the fact they were not buried by man in the first place) they would have been discovered before now.
In fact, most are only discovered by satellite photos etc, not by cultivations.


Don't underestimate how low key ploughing was until the steel plough came in. Also the impact of the black death etc .

We plough way more often, deeper and a larger scale than at any time in prehistory
 

EddieB

Member
Arable Farmer
Location
Staffs
Ozone layer is as healthy as its ever been. Rainforests expand and contract over the centuries but overall global forest cover is now much greater than it has been for at least two centuries. Humans have only ever driven a very few species to extinction, the most notable being the Do-Do bird which was hunted to extinction by humans. So as usual your post is piddle.
There are 113 species listed as extinct due to human activity.
 

Cowabunga

Member
Location
Ceredigion,Wales
There are 113 species listed as extinct due to human activity.
Name a few. It is interesting. 113 out of tens of millions over many centuries. How many have been classified as being extinct, whether by alleged human intervention or not, and been rediscovered many decades later? There are probably more extinct species than there are current living ones and you can only find 113 extinct due to humans. I can think of two or three personally and all of them happened at least 50 years ago. But let’s have the list to see how and why etc. I bet most of the 113 were declared extinct two hundred years or more ago.
One that is hopefully extinct in the UK and in modern times, is the warble fly. It’s a great pity that we can’t wipe out the mosquito and the tsetse-fly as well as some other parasites that maim all kinds of animals, many eating their hosts from the inside out.
 
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EddieB

Member
Arable Farmer
Location
Staffs
Name a few. It is interesting. 113 out of tens of millions over many centuries. How many have been classified as being extinct, whether by alleged human intervention or not, and been rediscovered many decades later? There are probably more extinct species than there are current living ones and you can only find 113 extinct due to humans. I can think of two or three personally and all of them happened at least 50 years ago. But let’s have the list to see how and why etc.
One that is hopefully extinct in the UK is the warble fly. It’s a great pity that we can’t wipe out the mosquito and the tsetse-fly as well as some other parasites that maim all kinds of animals, many eating their hosts from the inside out.
I can write a list if you like, but you were claiming it was only the Dodo. Well that’s 113 x your original statement.
 

Cowabunga

Member
Location
Ceredigion,Wales
I can write a list if you like, but you were claiming it was only the Dodo. Well that’s 113 x your original statement.
What I actually said was "Humans have only ever driven a very few species to extinction, the most notable being the Do-Do bird”. Perhaps you need comprehension lessons?

Yes, please do write your list as per my specific request.
 

Cowabunga

Member
Location
Ceredigion,Wales
add Auroch too, I believe the last one was killed in Poland about 400 years ago
I reckon there would have been a few between 500 and 200 years ago but not so many since out of the hundreds that probably go extinct annually for one reason or another. Consider that 99% of all species that have ever existed are extinct according to some [probably dreamt up] estimates. I’m not taking on the guilt for losing a single percentage or even a fraction of a percentage of those.
 
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The Anthropocene age: what world will humans leave behind?​

Scientific experts believe we are on the threshold of a new age that will intrigue alien civilisations to come

By Tom Chivers17 October 2014 • 6:05am

The third successful test flight of SpaceShipTwo, Mojave, America

If an alien civilisation lands, millions of years from now when humans are a distant memory, what will they find? Our cities will be long gone; our sturdiest monuments and greatest buildings will be dust. CREDIT: Photo: ZUMA/REX
If an alien civilisation lands, millions of years from now when humans are a distant memory, what will they find? Our cities will be long gone; our sturdiest monuments and greatest buildings will be dust. But if they bring a geologist with them, they may be able to read the story of our existence from the stones they walk on. In Berlin, yesterday, a group of scientists met to discuss just what that story will tell – and how important a story it is.
Humans have existed in our modern form for only about 200,000 years. In geological terms, barely the blink of an eye: geologists measure the history of the Earth in millions of years. But some think that humanity’s impact on the planet in that time – and especially in the past few hundred years – has changed the planet so much that we are now living in a new epoch: the Anthropocene. We have caused a mass extinction, and changed the composition of the atmosphere, they say. Our effect on the planet is as great as that of the end of the last ice age.
The Earth is about four and a half billion years old. For the first 500 million years, it was a hellish place: riven with volcanoes, much of its surface still molten rock, battered in collisions with other debris of the early solar system. When the Earth had cooled down, life quickly sprang up; ancient rocks have been found, 3.5 billion years old, containing the fossils of single-celled creatures.
Then, 500 million years ago, complex life began; a sudden burst of excitement called the Cambrian explosion. Every single kind of animal, plant and fungus that has ever existed on Earth – all the dinosaurs and mammoths, all the whales and lizards and lungfish and Neanderthals – has done so in those 500 million years.
Those years are known to geologists as the Phanerozoic eon. That eon is divided into smaller chunks, called eras; and the eras are divided into still smaller chunks, called epochs. Our current epoch, which began a mere 11,000 years ago, after the last ice age, is known as the Holocene. But perhaps the Holocene is already outdated. In 2000, a Nobel prize-winning chemist called Paul Crutzen proposed that we have changed the planet so much that we now live in the age of the humans: the Anthropocene.
Dr Jan Zalasiewicz, a stratigraphic geologist at the University of Leicester, who is at the Berlin meeting, says that the world has changed so much that we are, indeed, in a new epoch. “This was the first time geologists met to discuss it face to face, and the consensus is that it is real: the Anthropocene will look quite different to future geologists from the epoch that came before it.”
Mark Lynas, the author of The God Species: How the Planet Can Survive the Age of Humans, agrees. “Certainly a new epoch; perhaps even a new era. The speed of change of our carbon excursion is unprecedented in all of measurable Earth history – even the Permian era, 245 million years ago, which was marked by extreme volcanism, didn’t put as much carbon into the atmosphere as we have. Our carbon output is 10 to 100 times the speed of that.”
The history of the planet is written in rock. Over millions of years, sediments settle on the bottom of the ocean, and slowly compress into sedimentary rocks, in neat layers. The study of these layers is known as “stratigraphy”; each layer is distinguishable from the next by the rocks and metals, and fossils, found within it.
“Junctions between the big ones, eras and eons and so on, are distinguished by things like mass extinctions,” says Prof Tim Lenton, an earth and climate scientist at the University of Exeter. Most famously, 65 million years ago, a 10-mile-wide rock travelling at around 20 miles a second crashed into the Earth; the resulting dust cloud blocked the sun, and killed three quarters of the species of animals and plants on the planet. In the stratigraphic record, one moment there is a thriving set of fossils, and the next there is emptiness. That moment marks, for geologists, the boundary between two eras.
The boundary that would mark the start of the Anthropocene would be less dramatic than that, says Lenton, but it will be a “profound change in the make-up of the rocks of the stratigraphic layer”. Human farming has caused faster erosion, and so more sediment; our mining and burning of various chemicals will leave highly distinctive residues.

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“The alien geologist arriving in the future would see a change in the sedimentation rates, novel metals, pollutants, microplastics. They might find something more dramatic, the remains of an ancient civilisation flooded out by rising sea levels or something, but they’d definitely find the changes in the sediment.”
The Anthropocene sediments are not rock yet, but “in shallow seas there is a lot more material, and knowing how rocks form, it is going to show up in the stratigraphic record”. And while we are not quite in a mass extinction yet, says Zalasiewicz, because most species are still hanging on, we will be soon; and, just as obvious to future geologists, we have spread species all around the world. The Anthropocene is an epoch of camels in Australia and parakeets in London, all spread by humans.
But it will be the chemical changes that are most obvious. About 2.3 billion years ago, tiny creatures called cyanobacteria began something on which almost all life now relies utterly: photosynthesis, taking sunlight and using it for energy. The process filled the atmosphere with oxygen, a highly toxic and corrosive gas; this Great Oxygenation killed most life on Earth, and caused a vast ice age called Snowball Earth. “But the biogeochemical change we’re living through is comparable to the Great Oxygenation, or the Cambrian explosion,” says Lynas.
It’s not only carbon that’s changing the planet, he points out: “We’ve also changed the nitrogen cycle – double the amount of nitrogen is fixed in the soil, thanks to our use of fossil fuels and fertilisers. We’ve hugely changed land use. We’ve changed the water cycle, by building huge dams in rivers.”
And the speed of the change is terrifying: “There have been hotter periods, such as the Jurassic, when there was no ice at the poles and there was a rainforest in Greenland – but they came upon the planet slowly. The same thing happening in 50 to 100 years is off the scale.”
These changes will outlast us. “Carbon lasts in the atmosphere longer than nuclear waste remains radioactive, in the order of a million years,” says Lenton. “We’re committed to long-term change.” Lynas agrees: “This isn’t just a 10,000-year event, it’s a billion-year event.”
Not all scientists agree that the “Anthropocene” term is helpful. Lenton says it points to a real phenomenon, and the distinction in the stratigraphic record will be crystal clear to future geologists, but “gut instinct is to be careful about our hubris as a species, about seeing ourselves as hugely powerful and important”.
None the less, he says, “we have had a huge impact on the planet and we predict that impact escalating. We are a very unusual animal in having these effects on the globe. Life, such as cyanobacteria, has changed the atmosphere before, but animals usually don’t.”
“The Great Oxygenation led to Snowball Earth, and almost the total extinction of life. At each of these mass extinctions, some life has sneaked through, but it might not happen every time, and even if it does we might not be the life that sneaks through.”
But the “Anthropocene” need not, necessarily, be a synonym for human-caused global catastrophe. We have reasons to believe that we could be that life which sneaks through. “We are very good at telling apocalyptic stories, and there is science behind them,” says Lenton. “But we’re an ingenious species.”
Lynas and Lenton agree we can’t go back to a pre-industrial age “that would lead to a mass extinction of humans”, says Lynas. But technologies – nuclear power, carbon capture, efficient recycling of raw materials – could allow us to enjoy a modern lifestyle even with a population of billions. The trick is, says Lenton, to use our species’ foresight. “We have to decide on the sort of world we want, and to design the Anthropocene we want.”
breaking-news.png
 

Flatlander

Member
Arable Farmer
Location
Lorette Manitoba
What I actually said was "Humans have only ever driven a very few species to extinction, the most notable being the Do-Do bird”. Perhaps you need comprehension lessons?

Yes, please do write your list as per my specific request.
By the sounds of it you have no intention of excepting the fact that many scientific bodies have documented many species driven to extinction by man,isn’t it about time to step down from you soap box and prove yourself right and not rely on others to keep listing extinct species only to be ignored by yourself. Reminds me of wat dad used to say. There is none so blind as those who don’t want to see.
 

Two Tone

Member
Mixed Farmer
I now have to say that ploughing is bad (or at least Not good!) because having converted to No-till, but kept hold of my plough and Combi, just in case No-tilling didn’t work, this has just left the farm:
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So now I’m pretty committed to not ploughing any more.

Having given up ploughing 3 times already and swearing that there will never be a 4th, I’m reasonably confident that indeed there still wont be a 4th!
 

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New Fuel Supplier On The Way

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