[Market-farming] Forage radishes

Andy Fellenz artisanfarms at gmail.com
Fri Jan 13 23:49:44 EST 2012

Many of the tillage radishes planted near me (central NY) on sandy and
gravelly loams also grew up as well as down.  I don't think this means they
hit a hard pan.


On Fri, Jan 13, 2012 at 10:50 PM, Marlin Burkholder <
burkholders at glenecofarm.com> wrote:

> This past fall I planted forage radishes (diakons) on about an acre and a
> half of my crop ground after summer crops finished.  Some plots planted to
> fall crops like turnips and fall greens got a row of radishes planted
> between the crop rows after the crop was up and going.
> I was told by other farmers that diakon radishes send down a large taproot
> that penetrates 1 1/2 - 2 feet into the subsoil to break up hardpan and to
> cycle nutrients deep in the soil profile up to the surface.  As the plant
> winterkills the root rots and leaves a 2 inch diameter hole that allows
> rainwater to enter and freezing activity in the hole further loosens the
> soil as deep as the root penetrated.  Abundant top growth adds biomass to
> the top of the soil.  Nice logic here offers an attractive alternative to
> the double digging method advocated by John Jeavons in order to achieve
> deep
> tillage and healthy soil organic matter.  A lot of acres in Rockingham
> county were planted as a winter cover crop for this purpose this year.
> However an interesting thing has occurred.  I have a lot of roots sticking
> up six inches or more above the soil surface.  Does this suggest that maybe
> those radish roots grew down until they hit the hardpan and, instead of
> punching on through, they pushed up at the surface?
> In the spring I ran a subsoiler on roughly 3 foot centers for the purpose
> of
> breaking hardpan.  I haven't looked closely yet, but I haven't noticed
> bands
> of radishes without roots protruding above the soil line, suggesting that
> they were directly above the subsoiler track and didn't encounter
> resistance
> growing down.
> Just curious.
> Marlin Burkholder
> Virginia
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