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Thread: Soils workshop teachings

  1. #1
    FarmerDan
    Guest

    Soils workshop teachings

    Went on a soil structure workshop led by Simon Draper on Friday. It was an interesting session comparing three methods of spring barley establishment on soil structure (plough, discaerator, direct(ish) drill).

    One claim Simon made is that rotational tillage is necessary in no till or your subsoil will rise to meet the top soil. I'm not sure what he means. Any experience of this?

    Another claim is that root crops are incompatible with direct drilling due to the damage to soil caused by harvesting these crops...

    Finally he implied the current uptake in direct drilling will follow the same path as the last one and fall from favour...

    Slightly discouraging stuff as someone who's just bought a direct drill and plans to continue growing beet.

  2. #2
    sandersj89
    Guest

    Re: Soils workshop teachings

    Quote Originally Posted by FarmerDan View Post

    Another claim is that root crops are incompatible with direct drilling due to the damage to soil caused by harvesting these crops...
    I will agree with this part in the main, depends on the root crop and when it is harvested plus your soil type. We have parsnips in the rotation and there is no way we could have dd'd straight into that this spring once the fields were cleared. Not level enough, plenty of traffic on the ground when the soil was wet, etc. Most of the parsnip harvest was Nov thru to early Jan.

    Little choice other than to shakerate and plough before conventional drilling. Not ideal in our situation but only way around it.

  3. #3
    Willscale
    Guest

    Re: Soils workshop teachings

    Root crops are probably incompatible in that you probably still need to plough every so often. So you may not gain the fixed costs advantages but may gain some lower establishment costs so maybe Claydon/ mzuri style suits that system? A bit of investment in strip till or in sugar beet may help along that but no one is going to do it.

    The rest I don't really agree with. Whats a "direct-ish" drill? - If they are doing trials without the proper gear then they may as well not bother doing them. In fact they shouldn't bother doing them anyway because one year tells you very little.

    The subsoil meeting topsoil thing is hilarious :lolk:

    Will it fall from favour? Who knows - it all depends on management and it sounds to me that your man hasn't put the time into understanding the management and the systemic thinking needed to no till longer term. The reasons it "failed" a while back were a mix of equipment not good enough, straw chopping and burning and chemistry.

    If I were you I'd ignore him and keep talking to the farmers who make it work rather than an "expert" who can't. Met another "expert" like that in Devon last year - couldn't see beyond his nose and he worked for the Enviro Agency!

  4. #4
    Enry
    Guest

    Re: Soils workshop teachings

    The subsoil meeting topsoil thing is hilarious :lolk:

    This is nuts....heard him at the MGA conference and not sure that I'd rate his approach to 'trials' - lot of seat of the pants stuff.

    From my soil science lectures I seem to recall that bedrock becomes subsoil and gradually becomes topsoil over a long period of time..... How come subsoil isnt all on top in permanent pasture where we dont constant plough to keep it buried....

  5. #5
    155tm
    Guest

    Re: Soils workshop teachings

    Quote Originally Posted by FarmerDan View Post
    your subsoil will rise to meet the top soil.
    Do they not 'meet' currently then!!?

    I will take a spade and look for this gap in the morning!

    My take on his statement would be that the topsoil firms and settles under a direct drilling regime, it is not compacted but it has a more dense structure (actually carries more traffic in this condition). In five years time when you go back in with the plough set to the same depth as it always was under conventional tillage you will plough up subsoil. Not because it is rising up, but the topsoil had changed structure from a bath sponge to a wholemeal loaf. (there must be a better analogy, But you get what I mean.)

  6. #6
    Jim Bullock
    Guest

    Re: Soils workshop teachings

    FarmerDan
    Simon Draper advocates ploughing as a means of reducing soil erosion and has little time for direct-drilling...so having bought a D-D you really should not have gone to his workshop.... You should have come to the CTF/Cover-crops meeting in Bedfordshire last week...
    We will be D-D..ing some sp Wheat in the next few days so I will be in contact with you...

    Edit ...must just add a couple of photos of long term DD photo 1 is the soil structure after 10 years D-D and photo 2 is my neighbours field over the hedge..continious ploughing...his sub-soil has come up to meet his top-soil whereas our top soil is getting ever deeper...and for more proof we have done a number of SOM tests and our OM increases and gets deeper the less we cultivate...

  7. #7
    Willscale
    Guest

    Re: Soils workshop teachings

    How do you set yourself up as an expert? - I wouldn't mind giving it a go

    Do you just jump out and declare yourself an expert and expect everyone to think because you say your an expert you must be?

    To be fair though as we've not heard what the gentleman in question said straight from the horses mouth it would be rude to make too much judgment.

    That said on the point of topsoil/subsoil all soil is built downwards - its not so much the physical addition of matter that builds soil but that the biological process' are given time to start on the surface and work down - so when we talk about building soil we don't build up as in conventional building but we build down. 200 please -

  8. #8
    foxbox
    Guest

    Re: Soils workshop teachings

    Quote Originally Posted by 155tm View Post
    Do they not 'meet' currently then!!?

    I will take a spade and look for this gap in the morning!

    My take on his statement would be that the topsoil firms and settles under a direct drilling regime, it is not compacted but it has a more dense structure (actually carries more traffic in this condition). In five years time when you go back in with the plough set to the same depth as it always was under conventional tillage you will plough up subsoil. Not because it is rising up, but the topsoil had changed structure from a bath sponge to a wholemeal loaf. (there must be a better analogy, But you get what I mean.)
    I've been to one of Simon's trials on a site near us and also heard the sub-soil rising up analogy, I think that your explanation above is a great example of what he was saying really and puts his comments in a much clearer context than perhaps he does! His argument seems to be that even the strip till drills (on the site we visited he was using a Claydon Hybrid, a vadastad and something else which I forget now) cause an element of smearing and compaction below the seed boot (in the case of the Claydon) and tightening of the soil that under the right conditions over a few years you may need to do a "proper" cultivation to open things up again. Quite why they need opening up again wasn't entirely clear.

    I felt from the site and holes that he dug to show us that it was quite a good advert for strip till really, there wasn't much wrong at all with the rooting of the OSR that we looked at and whilst there were differences between the three machines that had worked the field none had left a crop you would have been disappointed in (the Claydon one was the best by the way). He was also adamant that sub-soilers should only ever run with the tip of the point at the horizon of top:subsoil as breaking into the subsoil did untold damage for years to come. Whilst I can see the logic of only running such a machine when needed and also digging a hole to know how deep you need to be pulling I felt this was taking his point a bit too far, besides which there shouldn't be any need for a sub-soiler around here anyway for the next few years as the weather is doing a damn good job at a far deeper depth than I can.

  9. #9
    Willscale
    Guest

    Re: Soils workshop teachings

    Quote Originally Posted by foxbox View Post
    I've been to one of Simon's trials on a site near us and also heard the sub-soil rising up analogy, I think that your explanation above is a great example of what he was saying really and puts his comments in a much clearer context than perhaps he does! His argument seems to be that even the strip till drills (on the site we visited he was using a Claydon Hybrid, a vadastad and something else which I forget now) cause an element of smearing and compaction below the seed boot (in the case of the Claydon) and tightening of the soil that under the right conditions over a few years you may need to do a "proper" cultivation to open things up again. Quite why they need opening up again wasn't entirely clear.

    I felt from the site and holes that he dug to show us that it was quite a good advert for strip till really, there wasn't much wrong at all with the rooting of the OSR that we looked at and whilst there were differences between the three machines that had worked the field none had left a crop you would have been disappointed in (the Claydon one was the best by the way). He was also adamant that sub-soilers should only ever run with the tip of the point at the horizon of top:subsoil as breaking into the subsoil did untold damage for years to come. Whilst I can see the logic of only running such a machine when needed and also digging a hole to know how deep you need to be pulling I felt this was taking his point a bit too far, besides which there shouldn't be any need for a sub-soiler around here anyway for the next few years as the weather is doing a damn good job at a far deeper depth than I can.
    By this reckoning then why is it that the Claydon compaction slot is "bad" but the compaction slot that will be left by the subsoiler upon loosening (where soil and point interface) is ok? If the theory is consistent then surely the next year you will have to subsoil deeper to break the old subsoil point interface?

  10. #10
    Jim Bullock
    Guest

    Re: Soils workshop teachings

    Quote Originally Posted by Willscale View Post
    How do you set yourself up as an expert? - I wouldn't mind giving it a go

    Do you just jump out and declare yourself an expert and expect everyone to think because you say your an expert you must be?

    To be fair though as we've not heard what the gentleman in question said straight from the horses mouth it would be rude to make too much judgment.
    Will
    You are an expert...IMO if you have been practicing a technique or a system and have had more experience than others then why shouldn't you be an expert...???
    I am most definatley and expert and as such charge 500+/day for my expertise ( in my dreams..!!)
    I would class all the regular contributors to this forum as experts and as such if asked for information you should charge for it then your info will be seen as being valuable and as such you will be elevated to "Expert" status..

  11. #11
    foxbox
    Guest

    Re: Soils workshop teachings

    Quote Originally Posted by Willscale View Post
    By this reckoning then why is it that the Claydon compaction slot is "bad" but the compaction slot that will be left by the subsoiler upon loosening (where soil and point interface) is ok? If the theory is consistent then surely the next year you will have to subsoil deeper to break the old subsoil point interface?
    I'm not defending him Will or agreeing! Our first year experiment with a Claydon is almost embarrassingly good at the moment and I'm sold on the principles of DD, need to learn much more before we commit to our own machine of some sort though. As you rightly say it's finding out who the experts really are that is the hard bit but hopefully by listening to everybody (including people like Simon) I will be able to work that one out for myself

    It's also obvious though that if you drag anything like a seed boot or tine through soil which is moist you will cause a degree of compression, however as you have pointed out in the past as long as this isn't too overdone the worms will sort it out for you (See I listen to you too )

  12. #12
    Willscale
    Guest

    Re: Soils workshop teachings

    Quote Originally Posted by foxbox View Post
    I'm not defending him Will or agreeing! Our first year experiment with a Claydon is almost embarrassingly good at the moment and I'm sold on the principles of DD, need to learn much more before we commit to our own machine of some sort though. As you rightly say it's finding out who the experts really are that is the hard bit but hopefully by listening to everybody (including people like Simon) I will be able to work that one out for myself

    It's also obvious though that if you drag anything like a seed boot or tine through soil which is moist you will cause a degree of compression, however as you have pointed out in the past as long as this isn't too overdone the worms will sort it out for you (See I listen to you too )
    No sure I just wondered what the thought process behind it was. And yes its always worth listening to everyone because there is never one way no matter what an argumentative bugger I am!

    Now do you wanna do cheque or paypal?

  13. #13
    FarmerDan
    Guest

    Re: Soils workshop teachings

    To be fair to the man, his area of expertise is conventional tillage, and he gave an excellent demonstration of assessing soils for structure within that paradigm. He also reckoned that the DD plot had the best structure, and in general was against the idea of recreational tillage.

    Still the top soil/subsoil interface argument was a bit baffling. He claimed that in woodland there is very little topsoil, and the soil is more like subsoil... which is obviously bollocks.

    Wish I had gone to the cover crops day...

  14. #14
    fred
    Guest

    Re: Soils workshop teachings

    Expert"...........

    Ex. Has been
    Spert. Drip under pressure


    I'd rather be a consultant, definition, someone who tells you the time by your own watch, and charges by the minute.

    Am I a consultant when I go to the pub and hold forth on all manner of subjects
    Or am I just a "...........?

    Will/ Jim the very fact that people read what you say , could almost engender you with the moniker Expert..

  15. #15
    foxbox
    Guest

    Re: Soils workshop teachings

    Quote Originally Posted by Willscale View Post

    Now do you wanna do cheque or paypal?
    Simon's events are free.....

  16. #16
    Willscale
    Guest

    Re: Soils workshop teachings

    another copy for someone,still very relavent - 20 is not too bad a price.

    http://www.amazon.co.uk/Direct-Drill...1717013&sr=8-1

  17. #17
    davidw
    Guest

    Re: Soils workshop teachings

    Definition of an expert - any d**n fool, 100 miles from home. I think I qualify as I'm writing from East Africa.

  18. #18
    The ruminant
    Guest

    Re: Soils workshop teachings

    Quote Originally Posted by fred View Post
    Expert"...........

    Ex. Has been
    Spert. Drip under pressure


    I'd rather be a consultant, definition, someone who tells you the time by your own watch, and charges by the minute.

    Am I a consultant when I go to the pub and hold forth on all manner of subjects
    Or am I just a "...........?

    Will/ Jim the very fact that people read what you say , could almost engender you with the moniker Expert..

    Will/Jim, I'd take offence if I was you. Fred defines what "Expert" means then says you're both experts

  19. #19
    Greg
    Guest

    Re: Soils workshop teachings

    Find Will a new woman and his demeaner will change.

  20. #20
    Mayo
    Guest

    Re: Soils workshop teachings

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Bullock View Post
    FarmerDan
    Simon Draper advocates ploughing as a means of reducing soil erosion and has little time for direct-drilling...so having bought a D-D you really should not have gone to his workshop.... You should have come to the CTF/Cover-crops meeting in Bedfordshire last week...
    We will be D-D..ing some sp Wheat in the next few days so I will be in contact with you...

    Edit ...must just add a couple of photos of long term DD photo 1 is the soil structure after 10 years D-D and photo 2 is my neighbours field over the hedge..continious ploughing...his sub-soil has come up to meet his top-soil whereas our top soil is getting ever deeper...and for more proof we have done a number of SOM tests and our OM increases and gets deeper the less we cultivate...
    Remarkable how widespread the Bullock soil management philosophy is- see below. I don't think there is any better way to explain the benefits or ideas behind No-till any better than your two photos already do?

    http://www.google.co.uk/imgres?q=pic...iw=998&bih=715

  21. #21
    Jim Bullock
    Guest

    Re: Soils workshop teachings

    Quote Originally Posted by Mayo View Post
    Remarkable how widespread the Bullock soil management philosophy is- see below. I don't think there is any better way to explain the benefits or ideas behind No-till any better than your two photos already do?

    http://www.google.co.uk/imgres?q=pic...iw=998&bih=715
    Mayo
    Thanks for the link...My soil management philosophy is based upon whether or not I can make money. (A bit like Clive and Lee). I suspect that many of my critics (The Swine Wrestler for example) if they were farming some of the crap land we do... would be looking very closely at no-till...

  22. #22
    essexpete
    Guest

    Re: Soils workshop teachings

    Quote Originally Posted by FarmerDan View Post
    To be fair to the man, his area of expertise is conventional tillage, and he gave an excellent demonstration of assessing soils for structure within that paradigm. He also reckoned that the DD plot had the best structure, and in general was against the idea of recreational tillage.

    Still the top soil/subsoil interface argument was a bit baffling. He claimed that in woodland there is very little topsoil, and the soil is more like subsoil... which is obviously bollocks.

    Wish I had gone to the cover crops day...
    I can sort of see where that is coming from. Scrape away the organic layer in woodland and you can reach what appears to be subsoil very quickly.

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