[Market-farming] How to Plow

PBock at avox.zodiac.com PBock at avox.zodiac.com
Wed Oct 15 14:07:41 EDT 2008

Just for good measure I should put in a plug for the book "Ploughman's 
Folly".  "Journey to forever" has a digitized copy that you can read for 
free. http://journeytoforever.org/farm_library/folly/follyToC.html
Even if you don't believe that you can eliminate plowing, this book at 
least asks the question of why do you need to plow? 

A low mow, then a disking to open it up a bit, then a fall cover crop like 
winter-rye.  In the spring / early summer go over it with a cover crop 
roller to crimp the rye stems.  You can find cover crop roller plans and 
info at newfarm's website.   
http://www.rodaleinstitute.org/no-till_revolution  This produces a great 
thick mulch for weed suppression.  The Rodale guys on the newfarm site 
pull a no-till planter with a front mounted roller-crimper, so they 
roller-crimp and plant in one pass.  The crimping process cause the plant 
to die by dehydration and prevents regrowth as could result from a mowing. 
 The cool part of this cover crop mulching system is that you get 100% 
cover crop kill without herbicides and then the resulting mulch keeps you 
from needing herbicides to handle weeds.  The mulch breaks down over the 
season and gives you organic matter for your soil.  The mulch also allows 
more water (rain) to penetrate your soil because it keeps the raindrops 
from crusting over your soil surface. 

Also, it turns out that mycorrhizal fungi are attracted to plants like 
Winter-rye.  INVAM's website has more information about how to propagate 
mycorrhizal fungi through spore production. http://invam.caf.wvu.edu/ The 
cool part is that a winter rye cover crop will allow any existing native 
mycorrhizal populations to flourish.  The death of the cover crop will 
cause massive spoartion (fungi seed production), just at the time your 
main crop is germinating.  Mycorrhizal's will help the most in poor soils. 
 They develop less in soils with higher organic matter, because the host 
plant depends on them less for nutrition. 

The newfarm site has some emerging info about mycorrhizal fungi's ability 
to increase crop growth.  The fungi create a symbiotic relationship with a 
host plant.  They effectively extend the root surface area a 100 fold. 
This lets the palnt "access" more soil nutrients.  The plant feeds the 
fungus simple sugars in return. 

Paul Bock
Stone Gully

Message: 5
Date: Wed, 15 Oct 2008 07:42:36 -0400
From: Andy Fellenz <fellenz at fltg.net>
Subject: [Market-farming] How to Plow
To: Market Farming <market-farming at lists.ibiblio.org>
Message-ID: <48F5D72C.80808 at fltg.net>
Content-Type: text/plain; charset=ISO-8859-1; format=flowed

I'm scaling up and looking for information on setting up and operating 
larger equipment, specifically the best way to open up and plow fields 
which have been mowed, but not planted in a long (>15 years) time.  Up 
to now I've usually worked up 1/4-1/2 acre at a time at the most and 
used a 3pt mounted rototiller. 

I'll be planting larger areas next year and am looking for good how-to 
guides.  On the equipment side for the larger fields I have an Allis 
Chalmers 180 (~70hp) with a 14" Oliver plow (plow can be set up as 3 or 
4 bottoms), 8' disk, 12' disk, 8' cultipacker, 10' cultimulcher, 8' 
S-Tine cultivator.  I've mowed the field this season and may have time 
to get out and fall plow if it makes sense. 


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