non farmer trying to converting a never farmed field

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inairam
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non farmer trying to converting a never farmed field

Postby inairam » Mon Sep 05, 2022 7:27 am

I am not a farmer. I use my cubs and 140 to cust grass, handle down trees, plow snow, general grading, clean swales, and maintain a gravel drive on a property that is mostly floodplain.

This spring with the price is gas and my desire to help birds and pollinators I decided to let the center of the fields grow and just cut around the edges. I was not really happy with what came up. There is not a lot of colors mostly a lot of weeds and some tall grasses.

This company https://www.ernstseed.com/ was recommended by some local managers of public/ land parks that are trying to grow native plants and help pollinators. My problem is I do not know how to convert the fields to prepare them to plant the seed. I want to do about 1 acre as a trial.

This is farm equipment I have picked up over the years with my cubs and is what I have to work with: FH plow, FH disc, FH grader box, FH rake. I know I need a seeder. I do not have a Coultepacker. I have a small roller. I also have a flair mower I thought I could use, with the PTO off, as a roller. I have a creek and a pond and can irrigate the fields I am thinking about seeding.

I just do not know the steps I need to do. The seed company talks about cutting to 6-8 inches and using roundup and coming back in a week or so and scratching the fields. They also said you cut to 2-3 inches could keep cultivating the fields until the weed seeds are exhausted in the ground which sounds like 3-5 weeks while they are growing.

A sequence of steps would be a help. Also roundup vs replete cultivating. A number of go native websites do suggest using the roundup to get started but not sure they are talking about larger areas. Interested in the pro and cons. (Only have a hand sprayer with an electric pump)

Thank you
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Re: non farmer trying to converting a never farmed field

Postby Don McCombs » Mon Sep 05, 2022 8:12 am

What you want to do is very similar to preparing and seeding food plots for hunting purposes. My brother and I do several plots on a recurring basis at our property. It doesn’t really matter what you are seeding, the process is the same. I would highly recommend taking several soil samples from your proposed area to determine if you need to apply lime or fertilizer as part of your prep. Your local ag extension office can advise you on how to accomplish this. We start by mowing the area to be seeded as short as possible. The word scalping comes to mind if you can get your mower to cut that low. Spraying with a broad spectrum herbicide is a good next step after the mowing. We do not do this, only because, like you, we don’t have a big enough sprayer to do the job easily. Some seeds remain viable in the soil for fifty years, so spraying does nothing for next years crop of weeds. It is best to remove as much of the clippings as possible, as they will only make the next step more difficult. Next we use either a 3 point tiller or disk to prepare the soil. We use the tiller on areas without many rocks and the disk on rocky areas. You will use your disk. Make as many passes as it takes to pulverize the soil and break up the existing plant root structure. If you can find an old bed spring or piece of chain link fencing to drag over the disked area, that will smooth out any lumps or ruts that remain after tilling. Then spread your seed at the suppliers recommended seeding rate. For the size area you are comtemplating, you don’t need a automated mechanical seeder. We use a shoulder mounted manual seeder made by Earthway. It has a plastic hopper and holds about all you would want to carry. Consider adding a nurse crop of winter wheat or oats to your seed mix to establish a quick cover crop to hold the soil in place while your wildflower mix germinates. You can apply these either combined or separately. After you have the seed applied, use your flail mower as a roller, without the knives rotating. This will further smooth the bed and assure good contact between the seed and soil. With a wildflower mix, I would plan on a Spring seeding. You want to plan your prep and seeding to occur just before a forecast rain, as much as is possible. That will help ensure good germination before the birds find and eat all your seed. You mentioned starting with a 1-1.5 acre plot size. I would recommend starting smaller the first year. Maybe just half an acre, until you see how it goes. Good luck!
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Re: non farmer trying to converting a never farmed field

Postby Eugene » Mon Sep 05, 2022 8:33 am

Don McCombs wrote:Your local ag extension office can advise you on how to accomplish this.
Also visit your local US Gov and State agricultural offices.

Frequently, they will visit your property and provide suggestions. There may have financial assistance, loan equipment, and classes, to help you accomplish your plan.

Edit: Get on your State University Extension web site. A lot of information there.

Do not purchase any seed until you find out what your ag/extension office recommends. Above all, do not purchase any seed from big box stores.
I have an excuse. CRS.

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Re: non farmer trying to converting a never farmed field

Postby SamsFarm » Mon Sep 05, 2022 12:32 pm

inairam wrote:This spring with the price is gas and my desire to help birds and pollinators I decided to let the center of the fields grow and just cut around the edges. I was not really happy with what came up. There is not a lot of colors mostly a lot of weeds and some tall grasses.


(You did help them, you just did not realize that!)

If you want to save money and maintain the area as a open area, I recomend brush hogging 2 times a year

inairam wrote:This company https://www.ernstseed.com/ was recommended by some local managers of public/ land parks that are trying to grow native plants and help pollinators. My problem is I do not know how to convert the fields to prepare them to plant the seed. I want to do about 1 acre as a trial.


I been to Earnst Seed before, they are within reasonable driving distance from me, and that seed is expensive!


inairam wrote:This is farm equipment I have picked up over the years with my cubs and is what I have to work with: FH plow, FH disc, FH grader box, FH rake. I know I need a seeder. I do not have a Coultepacker. I have a small roller. I also have a flair mower I thought I could use, with the PTO off, as a roller. I have a creek and a pond and can irrigate the fields I am thinking about seeding.


You have every thing you need to do this! You can sling the seed with your hand out of a small bucket instead of investing in a seeder.
About the only thing I would recomend if you get involved with broadcast seeding would be a spike tooth harrow for working in the seed after throwing it out, but a light disking will work in a pinch too!

inairam wrote:I just do not know the steps I need to do. The seed company talks about cutting to 6-8 inches and using roundup and coming back in a week or so and scratching the fields. They also said you cut to 2-3 inches could keep cultivating the fields until the weed seeds are exhausted in the ground which sounds like 3-5 weeks while they are growing.


Simple as plow, disk, plant! But you'll unleash a backlog of seed in your soil seed bank, some good, some not so good (in our opinion)!

But remember that nature likes the weeds too!

inairam wrote:A sequence of steps would be a help. Also roundup vs replete cultivating. A number of go native websites do suggest using the roundup to get started but not sure they are talking about larger areas. Interested in the pro and cons. (Only have a hand sprayer with an electric pump)


If your serious, you could plow, disk, wait till after the soil gets wet and the soil seeds germinate, then disk again to kill off what germinated, then plant winter wheat, it will cover your soil for the winter if done right, and the wild life love it. Then come spring when everyone is planting gardens in your area, disk up that wheat, wait till you see the soil bank seeds germinate, disk again then plant buckwheat.

Buckwheat grows fast and thick, chokes out weeds, and it will be a big buzz with bees once it blossoms out.

Then if there is something else you might want want to plant for a more permanent stand, go ahead and do so, but keep in mind you'll still have to mow it a few times a year, because the birds and the wind gonna bring in seeds...... First the weeds and grasses, then the black berries and multi flora rose (brambles), then the fast growing trees, followed by the bigger slow growing trees!

Chances are to create and maintan a bee and bird utopia, will cost more than your typical mowing you been doing in the past!

And......

The do nothing, save money on gas approach will result in reforested land before you know it! Lol


Oh-yea, throw that sprayer and the toxic chemicals out, your soil is alive, and the chemicals will only ruin your soil life, and at some point it might ruin yours as well.

You can look it up, but they say that a cubic foot of healthy soil contains more life than humans on the planet.

Good luck what ever path you shall take! :)

Ps....

Another option would be to divide the area into strips, half (every other one) would stay in grass.

The others you could vary into different things!
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inairam
5+ Years
5+ Years
Posts: 2840
Joined: Wed Jul 08, 2015 10:24 am
Zip Code: 19342
Tractors Owned: 1948 6v - Dozer
1949 with kub klipper belly mower. mag 6v - Mom
1950 with plow, 54 blade, mott mag 6v - Roxanne
1953 54 blade, c22, wood 42 6v
1957 6v - barn Queen
1965 lo-boy with c-3 mower 12 v - Loboy
1974 Horse II 12 v c-2
1975 with woods 42-6 12 v - Horse
1979 long strip 12 v stuck engine
130 with international 1000 loader 6 v
1969 140 with bush hog tow behind mower 12 v
Terramite T-6 4WD Backhoe Perkins diesel
Memberships: Rough and Tumble Engineers Historical Association;Chapter 8 IH Collectors; IH Collectors Worldwide
Circle of Safety: Y
Location: Glen Mills PA

Re: non farmer trying to converting a never farmed field

Postby inairam » Mon Sep 05, 2022 7:09 pm

SamsFarm wrote:
inairam wrote:

If you want to save money and maintain the area as a open area, I recomend brush hogging 2 times a year


The general recommendation from the native plant people is once a year in late winter or early spring. Gives the birds and other critters food and shelter over the winter but clears things for the coming year.

I have to say the number of hawks increased and the fawns use to only be around at dusk now they are around during the day.
When you only have 9 horsepower you need to know the names of all of the ponies!

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Re: non farmer trying to converting a never farmed field

Postby Jim Becker » Mon Sep 05, 2022 7:50 pm

SamsFarm wrote:
inairam wrote:You have every thing you need to do this! You can sling the seed with your hand out of a small bucket instead of investing in a seeder.
About the only thing I would recomend if you get involved with broadcast seeding would be a spike tooth harrow for working in the seed after throwing it out, but a light disking will work in a pinch too!

One of the 2-wheeled push-type broadcast spreaders would work reasonably well, as would one of the crank-operated ones you carry around.

Running a roller over it is all small seed needs. That should give you good contact with the soil. There is possibly more risk of burying it too deep than not enough.

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Don McCombs
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Re: non farmer trying to converting a never farmed field

Postby Don McCombs » Mon Sep 05, 2022 9:39 pm

I've tried one of the two wheeled broadcast spreaders that Jim speaks of. Usually the soil is too loose for it to be easy to push. The small wheels sink in too deeply with the weight of a full hopper. The one I use is similar to this one, only the hopper is rigid plastic...

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Re: non farmer trying to converting a never farmed field

Postby Jim Becker » Mon Sep 05, 2022 10:31 pm

Don McCombs wrote:I've tried one of the two wheeled broadcast spreaders that Jim speaks of. Usually the soil is too loose for it to be easy to push. The small wheels sink in too deeply with the weight of a full hopper.

I used mine to plant rye. (No longer remember if I did the whole garden (quarter acre) or part of it.) Now that you mention it, I probably dragged it around backwards. It worked better in the smoother areas.

inairam
5+ Years
5+ Years
Posts: 2840
Joined: Wed Jul 08, 2015 10:24 am
Zip Code: 19342
Tractors Owned: 1948 6v - Dozer
1949 with kub klipper belly mower. mag 6v - Mom
1950 with plow, 54 blade, mott mag 6v - Roxanne
1953 54 blade, c22, wood 42 6v
1957 6v - barn Queen
1965 lo-boy with c-3 mower 12 v - Loboy
1974 Horse II 12 v c-2
1975 with woods 42-6 12 v - Horse
1979 long strip 12 v stuck engine
130 with international 1000 loader 6 v
1969 140 with bush hog tow behind mower 12 v
Terramite T-6 4WD Backhoe Perkins diesel
Memberships: Rough and Tumble Engineers Historical Association;Chapter 8 IH Collectors; IH Collectors Worldwide
Circle of Safety: Y
Location: Glen Mills PA

Re: non farmer trying to converting a never farmed field

Postby inairam » Tue Sep 06, 2022 6:42 am

I have a bag seeder. Not sure how consistent I can be over an acre
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Don McCombs
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Re: non farmer trying to converting a never farmed field

Postby Don McCombs » Tue Sep 06, 2022 7:13 am

The butterflies don’t care. :D
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inairam
5+ Years
5+ Years
Posts: 2840
Joined: Wed Jul 08, 2015 10:24 am
Zip Code: 19342
Tractors Owned: 1948 6v - Dozer
1949 with kub klipper belly mower. mag 6v - Mom
1950 with plow, 54 blade, mott mag 6v - Roxanne
1953 54 blade, c22, wood 42 6v
1957 6v - barn Queen
1965 lo-boy with c-3 mower 12 v - Loboy
1974 Horse II 12 v c-2
1975 with woods 42-6 12 v - Horse
1979 long strip 12 v stuck engine
130 with international 1000 loader 6 v
1969 140 with bush hog tow behind mower 12 v
Terramite T-6 4WD Backhoe Perkins diesel
Memberships: Rough and Tumble Engineers Historical Association;Chapter 8 IH Collectors; IH Collectors Worldwide
Circle of Safety: Y
Location: Glen Mills PA

Re: non farmer trying to converting a never farmed field

Postby inairam » Tue Sep 06, 2022 7:42 am

What about the roundup versus repeated tilling of the soil?

The grade of the fields is good. They drain well. I feel with my lack of experience repeated discing would change the grade and make puddles. Also, it is a flood plain. The longer the field sits with nothing growing on it the bigger risk I have of losing soil in a flood.

The other side is the round-up is sort of counter to my overall goal of feeding birds and pollinators.
When you only have 9 horsepower you need to know the names of all of the ponies!

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Don McCombs
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Location: MD, Deep Creek Lake

Re: non farmer trying to converting a never farmed field

Postby Don McCombs » Tue Sep 06, 2022 8:14 am

I don’t think repeated tilling will achieve your objective. Most seeds remain viable in the soil for many years, until the conditions are right for them to germinate, even with the use of an herbicide. You’re only going to make one application of glyphosate to burn down the weeds to make tilling easier. You won’t be using it after you have the pollinator plants established. Spray, till and get a good nurse crop and wildflower mix established quickly. Should minimize any erosion issues.
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CS Bell No. 60 Grain Mill on a unmodified Fast Hitch Disk hitch prong
Home Made Fast Hitch Potato Plow
54A Blade

Couple 1948 Cubs
172 Runner Planter
53 Fertilizer
Cub-3 Field Cultivator
Cub-189 Two Way Plow
Cub-22 Sickle Bar Mower
Mechanical Transplanter with side mount barrel (needs a fast hitch adapter) :)

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International 100 Fast Hitch Blade
Mott Fast Hitch Flail Mower

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Re: non farmer trying to converting a never farmed field

Postby SamsFarm » Tue Sep 06, 2022 9:09 am

inairam wrote:What about the roundup versus repeated tilling of the soil?

The other side is the round-up is sort of counter to my overall goal of feeding birds and pollinators.


The question is, do you also want to destroy your soil life (earthworms, etc, etc) with the toxic chemicals?

Or be their friend?

Even tillage can be hard on the soil life!

As someone who has tried to be a bee keeper, there was talk years ago that the ag chemicals was responsible for colonoy collaps disorder.

No one will probably ever prove that because the BIG MONEY the ag chemical companies have!

Is the chemicals worth the risk?
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Re: non farmer trying to converting a never farmed field

Postby Eugene » Tue Sep 06, 2022 9:33 am

Suggest talking to old established farmers adjacent to your property. Tell them you plan and see what they suggest.

Visit the local office of your state conservation commission. They may have plans and funds available to reestablish land/prairies.

Have you considered trees?
I have an excuse. CRS.

inairam
5+ Years
5+ Years
Posts: 2840
Joined: Wed Jul 08, 2015 10:24 am
Zip Code: 19342
Tractors Owned: 1948 6v - Dozer
1949 with kub klipper belly mower. mag 6v - Mom
1950 with plow, 54 blade, mott mag 6v - Roxanne
1953 54 blade, c22, wood 42 6v
1957 6v - barn Queen
1965 lo-boy with c-3 mower 12 v - Loboy
1974 Horse II 12 v c-2
1975 with woods 42-6 12 v - Horse
1979 long strip 12 v stuck engine
130 with international 1000 loader 6 v
1969 140 with bush hog tow behind mower 12 v
Terramite T-6 4WD Backhoe Perkins diesel
Memberships: Rough and Tumble Engineers Historical Association;Chapter 8 IH Collectors; IH Collectors Worldwide
Circle of Safety: Y
Location: Glen Mills PA

Re: non farmer trying to converting a never farmed field

Postby inairam » Tue Sep 06, 2022 10:31 am

Eugene wrote:Suggest talking to old established farmers adjacent to your property. Tell them you plan and see what they suggest.

Visit the local office of your state conservation commission. They may have plans and funds available to reestablish land/prairies.

Have you considered trees?


Eugene, The farmers around us all sold out 40 years ago. They were on high ground. My parents purchased in a valley.
I am doing trees. I have planted 50 trees ( saplings) in the past 3-4 years. With trees, I know what I am doing. I do not want to do trees in the areas I want to do this.
When you only have 9 horsepower you need to know the names of all of the ponies!


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