Occasionally direct drilling not rectifying soil structure, drainage ?

Discussion in 'Direct Drilling Crops & Agronomy' started by MX7, Jan 23, 2018.

  1. MX7

    MX7 Member

    Have some of you had the situation where even after 5yrs of direct drilling ,you have some fields or areas of fields are not draining any better than when you started direct drilling. I ask the question as one can be lead to believe by some articles one reads by soil consultants, that if one perseveres long enough with direct drilling the roots of crops will take care of the soil and help the soil drain better.
  2. juke

    juke Member

    only seen improvement in our soils capability to handle water be that in a high rain fall situation or in a dry time... its a complete no brainer to me sell the ploughs, trios n all that in needed steel
    Farmer Roy likes this.

  3. If you have a fundamental water table issue then i can see its possible. Also some soils take time, things like wheelings, drill type, drilling conditions etc. Can all have an influence.

    Yellow belly is a big man for mole draining in no till on the heavy stuff
  4. MX7

    MX7 Member

    Although frowned upon ,but in reality does subsoiling also have a place,horses for courses etc
  5. Simon Chiles

    Simon Chiles DD Moderator

    The trouble is that the very situation that you might think needs subsoiling is normally caused by either mismanagement or bad weather and almost always both. However, in that instance ( wet soil ) the very last thing you should be doing is subsoiling. Often if you can get a decent plant establishment, and that may mean doing a bit of shallow cultivation, the situation can soon be rectified. If I had an area of ground that repeatedly didn’t grow a crop and I got an opportunity in ideal conditions to subsoil then I would use it as a tool to avoid having to wait for the soil to sort itself out but I would re-consolidate it well otherwise I’d just end up making the situation worse. No till is like playing a game of snakes and ladders, wet harvests are small snakes, ploughing is a big one. Running a subsoiler through in ideal conditions and re consolidating could be a little ladder but often doing nothing can be a bigger one.
    Clive, parker, SilliamWhale and 3 others like this.
  6. Macsky

    Macsky Member

    What crops have you grown in the 5 years @MX7 ?
  7. britt

    britt Member

    leics/warks border
    If you have an area where water stands you need to do something as the standing water will kill the soil life that you need to rectify it.
    Digging a shallow channel across the surface to let water get away may seem very crude but it prevents the waterlogging and anaerobic conditions.
    Otherwise roots and patience seem to work.
    Last edited: Jan 25, 2018
  8. MX7

    MX7 Member

    I just drive by the fields on a regular basis. From memory the crops grown have included rape wheat spring barley linseed and wheat.As a retired farmer I can’t help being a nosy parker and asking questions.;)
    PS No apologies as we all keep learning.
  9. Macsky

    Macsky Member

    Ive been reading a fair bit lately about arable folk turning to deep rooting herbal leys and rotational grazing to sort out fields that have been cropped for decades, good results building OM, improves structure and brings all kinds of life back to the spent soil, potential for large amounts of carbon sequestration too, that may turn out quite important the way things are looking with increasingly enviro subs.

    Disclaimer: I have zero experience in these matters, I’d have to drive 2 hours to see an arable crop just find it interesting.
    Last edited: Jan 24, 2018
    MX7 likes this.
  10. I subsoil now and again but almost always after on a whole field basis I question whether is was worth it.
  11. parker

    parker Member

    south staffs
    I don't believe direct drilling reduces the need for land drains, it certainly improves infiltration rates and soil structure but does not do away with the need for drainage
  12. DrWazzock

    DrWazzock Member

    Subsoiler seems to be necessary here. Clay areas, which were ponds or lagoons before the land was farmed, tend to revert to ponds or lagoons even when under drained if you don't bust them occasionally. This clay is like solid blue putty from 2 feet down and deeper. The subsoiler reopens the porous backfill over the drains. I suppose if I never traveled on the ground and never put stock on it, it might stay open or if I planted a wood the roots might bust it but from what I've seen in practice here it needs some sort of help. Maybe if I could get a deep rooting cover crop and the weather was kind enough, I could get away with it, but I doubt it.

    The cattle in particular are devils for finding a wet spot during the summer and treading it into a wallowing hole. They have managed to create a few small ponds this way.
  13. MX7

    MX7 Member

    Many thanks for all your interesting posts in reply to my thread. Seems to be the case as usual in farming, one "MUST" do what suits your own farming situation ,if subsoiling is part of your Direct Drilling programme which makes D/D work for you stick with it despite what anyone else says, YOU are paying the bills /signing the cheques, where as the soil consultants, many of whom are not actually farming with a mortgage or rent to pay are drawing a consultancy fee.;);)
    Last edited: Jan 24, 2018
  14. Main bonus of working with no-till type systems is that the ground is never artificially loosened in the first place so you just don't get wheelings to begin with.

    I am not a fan of direct drilling or no-till or one pass drills because I am a soil saving acolyte, I am interested because of the cost saving and implications for improved weed management. I would happily make use of the system when the conditions permit but opt for full blown ploughing if the conditions dictated it.

    Tramlines- leave them as they are, makes no odds. If they are too deep, subsoil them up and start again. I'm a pragmatist, not a greeny. As I have said before, the soil has to take second place.
  15. T Bourne

    T Bourne Member

    The soil can't take second place! Soil isn't just a medium for growing plants, it is a living organism. Or it should be. We as farmers need to understand that the soil is our greatest resource and we must look after it. Saying that the soil has to take second place is like an elite athlete saying "my health can take second place, I need to focus on running or swimming or working out in the gym". If the body (soil) is not healthy it won't perform. For far too long we have thought that the soil is just a medium for growing and we can supply all it needs from a bag or bottle. Natural process can provide most if not all of a crops needs if we follow the template that is provided. Sorry for the rant.;)
  16. Clive

    Clive Staff Member

    Great analogy ! Spot on, no amount of gym, training (cultivation) or drugs (inputs) can help an athlete perform who has the wrong body for the job !
  17. Brisel

    Brisel Member

    Some of the best soil in the world is lying idle because it wasn't viable to farm, not because of no till. You've got to pay the bills too.
  18. Warp Land Farmer

    Hazzard County
    Could you expand on, please?
  19. Purli R

    Purli R Member

    Moisture deficiency?
  20. Brisel

    Brisel Member

    I was thinking of vast tracts of Russia and Ukraine that have great deep soils but no infrastructure or finance with a $50/t journey to a port. My vague point was about having enough resources to make a mistake and still be able to carry on.

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