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  1. #1
    Veteran Member jimg's Avatar
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    Default soil compaction in hay fields

    This question has a couple components one of which isn't really equipment related. However, I thought it fit in better here than 'rural living'.

    First, for those who are hay only farms (or mostly so) do you care about soil compaction in your hay fields? If not why? If so how do you remediate it? It seems to me that aerating the soil every season would be a very good thing. It gets air, moisture and fertilizer/lime/etc down closer to where it will benefit the plant. OTOH Im not aware of any farmer who does such a thing.

    If you do aerate your fields what do you use and how often do you renovate them? How often and when?

  2. #2
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    Default Re: soil compaction in hay fields

    We worry about compaction but only because it's hard on the alfalfa. If you're in a seasonal climate you get all the aeration you need from freezing. Studies have been done that show there's no real benefit. If you are in an extremely arid area and you have really hard compacted soil that isn't subject to frost heaving then it's beneficial. Otherwise you're just wasting diesel.

  3. #3
    Veteran Member jimg's Avatar
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    Default Re: soil compaction in hay fields

    Great...exactly what I was hopiing to hear....thanx

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    Default Re: soil compaction in hay fields

    Here in Minnesota - we get frost 4 feet deep. That takes care of it.

    With alfalfa, the machine would do more damage to the alfalfa; at 3-4 years of age, an alfalfa root does a lot of airating on it's own. [img]/forums/images/graemlins/smile.gif[/img]

    For grass hay on hard grounds in a southern climate - I donno.

    --->Paul

  5. #5
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    Default Re: soil compaction in hay fields

    Compaction is a problem here more so in recent years. With the climate change or lack of cold winters I can see a difference. I've used a sub soiler on pasture and brought it back to life. I only use the sub soiler on hay fields when reseeding. Been looking at a pasture renovator real hard. That may be my next emplement purchase in the next year or so.

    This winter the frost line may have gotten down to 2 in. I use my hay fields for pasture too, so it gets a double dose of compaction.

  6. #6
    Veteran Member jimg's Avatar
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    Default Re: soil compaction in hay fields

    Have you seen these impements called 'pasture renovators'? It looks like a cross between a spike harrow and disk. Those look like theyd do least damage to the crop but also do enough to loosen and aerate the soil.

  7. #7
    Veteran Member jimg's Avatar
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    Default Re: soil compaction in hay fields

    Yes, the frost line more N of where Ill be is considerably different. Frost action where I lived in new england was more than enough to bring a new crop of rocks to the surface in my garden every year though.

  8. #8
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    Default Re: soil compaction in hay fields

    I haven't seen one used on pasture or hay fields but about 10 miles from me there's a boxwood farm. They bought one (renovator)thinking they could use it between the rows of boxwoods. [img]/forums/images/graemlins/blush.gif[/img] [img]/forums/images/graemlins/blush.gif[/img] No way it would work in all those roots. They hooked it up and ran it once. Sheared a bag of shear bolts and parked it. The renovator did a nice job where the small young boxwoods were planted. I think the moisture has to be on the high side so it doesn't leave trenches with little humps on each side.

    I've tried to buy that unit but the guy that owned it passed and his wife now runs the show. She wants more than what it sold for new and it's been sitting 5 years.

    I think it would work good in our soil here. But again I think the soil moisture has to be right. Not to dry and not to wet.

    It has coulters right in front of the shanks that slice through the sod. I think it'll go down to 17 inches may be a little less. It has straps on top of the frame to mount two 55 gal. drums for water weight.

    Been two years since I asked what she wanted for it. I might just drop by soon and see if she'll get a little closer to my kind of money. [img]/forums/images/graemlins/wink.gif[/img]

  9. #9
    Super Member Farmwithjunk's Avatar
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    Default Re: soil compaction in hay fields

    I haven't seen one in years, but there was a brand of "renovator" by the brand name of Pharnam some time back. It even had a lime/fertilizer spreader mounted on top of it. It didn't dig all that deep if I recall, but they were very popular long ago.

    Freeze/thaw and earthworms do the work of relieving compaction in no-till farming. Seems to work mighty good in some soil types and climates. (earthworms don't do much for compaction, but they do open up soil for water to soak through. That in turn has an effect when soils freeze)

  10. #10
    bjr
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    Default Re: soil compaction in hay fields

    Soil compaction has been interesting subject. I'm in the camp that likes aeriating. My wallet wouldn't let buy one of them multi thousand dollars Aerway or similar units. Finally had a very old implement dealer sell me what he called a hole puncher in the rough, I had to finish it out. It was a former wheat stubble cruncher. It had bearing standards so I sharpened the ends of the wheels, kinda reminds me of a rotary hoe only tines are about 1-1/2" wide, and mounted to a section of truck frame rail, made a cat 1 3 pt mount, added 'bout 500 lbs. weight. It's 5' wide works good behind a 35 hp tractor. I use on pasture and my older establish house lawn. It pokes down maybe 3" and I can see a difference especially help the blue grass recover were the darn bermuda grass was. I got maybe $60 in it. bjr
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