[Market-farming] How to Plow

Gregory Strella gregory.strella at gmail.com
Mon Oct 27 15:20:04 EDT 2008

I'm looking to convert four or five acres of grass at a former horticulture
vocational school near Baltimore, MD into an organic market farm and
agricultural education site.  There are some hedges and trees (mostly pine)
in the mix as well.  Being a younger grower, I've never attempted to grow in
soil that wasn't recently cultivated in one form or another.  My main
concern is how many experts (both extension *and *several local organic
growers) are advising me to spray glyphosate on the perennial grasses (looks
like fescue, mainly) before I try to grow there.  This brings me to two

1. Using a John Deere w/ ~ 35hp and renting/borrowing any tillage implements
other than a mower or rototiller, is there a reliable way to mechanically
break the sod next spring, grow *some *cash crops there at some point in
2009, and not face overwhelming perennial-grass weed pressure for "the next
10 years"?

2. If glyphosate *is* the best way to go - now that the window has closed on
an effective fall application - when is the best time to spray in the
spring?  What sequence of soil preparation would you advise

I apologize if these are naive questions.  I'd much prefer to not rush
vegetables into the ground and deal with the grasses slowly and thoroughly,
but the time-table for this project is out of my hands.  Thanks in advance
for any advice you have and for all the great posts as of late.

Greg Strella
Meristem Farm
Reisterstown, MD

On Wed, Oct 15, 2008 at 9:17 AM, Carla Shafer <cs13 at cornell.edu> wrote:

> In trying to wrap my head around all the ins and outs of tillage (and
> non-tillage) I've run across some great resources. Here are a couple of good
> ones relating to plowing:
>    1.  Steel in the Field: a Farmer's Guide to Weed Management Tools<http://www.sare.org/publications/weeds.htm>-- This SARE publication is available in its entirety online, but well worth
>    the purchase price for your own farm library copy, in my opinion.
>    2. How to Use Your Tractor: Creating a Seedbed<http://www.antiquetractors.com/cgi-bin/readart.cgi?w=articles/feature0498.htm>-- An archived article from the Yesterday's Tractor magazine that covers the
>    basic techniques of plowing and discing. (While you're on the YT website,
>    check the archives for other articles that may be of interest, as well.)
>    3. How to set up a plow<http://www.ssbtractor.com/wwwboard/messages9/5630.html>-- a post to the SSB Tractor forum, with a beginner's tip for how to adjust
>    a plow the first time you use it.
>    4. Finally, I seem to recollect a useful discussion about bringing some
>    fallow fields into production on this very list. I can't say exactly when it
>    was. But it might be worth a perusal of the archives, if my memory serves
>    me.
> All the best,
> Carla Shafer
> On Wed, Oct 15, 2008 at 6:42 AM, Andy Fellenz <fellenz at fltg.net> wrote:
>> 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.
>> Andy
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