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  1. #1

    Join Date
    Apr 2001
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    353
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    Ohio
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    G1800 & BX2200

    Default To plow or till???

    I am curious about opinions on whether plowing is better tna rototilling a garden plot. My 70+ year old neighbor tills year after year and told me the other day that he wished he could get it plowed and disc'd up. He thought it was better.

    Is this because a plow goes deeper? Or because plowing flips the soil over bringing up the deeper soil?

    I'm a little confused. I know the crop production people always plow and disc. Why???

    Lots of questions....

    Dr Dan


  2. #2
    Platinum Member
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    Nov 2000
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    858

    Default Re: To plow or till???

    For a garden spot you cannot (in my opinion) beat a good tiller. I tilled a couple of gardens this summer for some ole farmers who always plowed and use discs on there garden.After I made a couple of passes with the JD 660 and they walked out in the garden and sank into the dirt/powder up above there ankles they were all smiles. [img]/w3tcompact/icons/smile.gif[/img]


  3. #3

    Join Date
    Apr 2001
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    353
    Location
    Ohio
    Tractor
    G1800 & BX2200

    Default Re: To plow or till???

    Ankle deep isn't very deep. Most tillers go to about 5" to 8" and one of my questions is that: Is there a benefit to turning the soil to 12" or more deep and bringing that soil up and burying the surface soil? Yes you can always go over plowed and disc'd soil to make coffee grounds but those tillers don't go very deep. Is there a benefit to burying weed seeds deeper? I don't know... Just wonder why crop farmers don't use giant tillers. **** they could do it in one pass if it was good cropland.

    Still wondering

    DrDan


  4. #4
    Gold Member
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    Apr 2000
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    Akaroa South Island ,New Zealand (about 1/2 way down south island)
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    8350 valmet with 980SL FEL duels had a 150 Hp deutz just sold it 10 NOV 01

    Default Re: To plow or till???

    Hi ya
    well two sides to this one yes ya can plow deeper than a tiller and doing so ya can bery the good mulch ya have too deep but plowing/disc's make ground brake on fault lines so do power harrows .now tillers are good for mixing and braking down last years leftover crop but they do beat the **** out of ya ground if things arn't just right or make ya ground like flour the other thing they can do is make a hard pan ie if ya work to 5 inch all the time ya will have a pan below that ya can pull a subsoiler to brake the pan bout 8-10 inch will help with dranage too..if i did have a garden tractor thats all i'd have a ripper and tiller -one to work deep and lossen the subsoil and one to just work top 3 inchs to form seedbed
    catch ya
    JD Kid


  5. #5
    Super Star Member Egon's Avatar
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    Nova Scotia, Canada

    Default Re: To plow or till???

    Good Morning:
    Farmers use different implements for different types and depth of soil. Some use cultivators,ploughs,tillers[not the rotatiller type] or discs. Depends on what the field was planted to and what the climatic conditions are in the area. In some cases they use a type of chisel plough that will go down 2 to 3 feet to break up hardpan below.
    The rotatillers would most likely, as has been previously suggested, reduce the top to very fine particles suseptible to wind erosion and also to having tender seedlings damaged by wind blown dirt. They may also dry out the top layer more than some other forms of cultivation. Many farmers want the least disrubtion to the surface as possible so as to retain moisture and prevent erosion.
    The rotatillers also come in very small sizes compared to say a 50 ft. or larger set of disc's. When the farmer as many hundreds of acres to cover the wider the cultivating equipment he can pull the less time it takes. He also needs all that land to pay for the large eqipment he has.
    Also the rotatiller would require more maintenance and horsepower exspecially in rocky or hard clay type soils.
    Rember, most of the tractors mentioned here would weigh less than one tire from a large articulated agricultural tractor.
    Just some thoughts as farming equipment varies as to the results required, crops and location.
    I use a rotatiller for the garden amd would not even think of a plough.
    Egon


  6. #6

    Join Date
    Apr 2000
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    349
    Location
    Peculiar, MO
    Tractor
    B2400 Kubota

    Default Re: To plow or till???

    Grew up on the farm and having two brothers that farm a lot of fields, they stopped using a plow years ago. A plow causes hardpan under the dirt is turns over. What they use if at all are chesiel but they more than anything use no till techniques. The tiller turns the soil up and does not create the hardpan like a plow. How deep do you want to go? I checked on buying a plow for some people wanted their gardens plowed in the fall. The dealers didn't carry a plow and all of them talked me out of it. If your tiller is not too big for your tractor, you can do a great job. You can spot a too big of tiller on a tractor when you see the job they didn't do. Remember size is not everything. The ability to turn the soil is important not just make marks in the soil. Different strokes for different folks.
    Dan L


  7. #7

    Join Date
    Jul 2001
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    Sharpsburg, Md
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    John Deere 4100 HST

    Default Re: To plow or till???

    I agree with JDKid.

    A combination of plowing and tilling in a garden area is beneficial. Especially if you plant winter cover crops. Flipping the green manure over increases the humus to a greater depth. This also promotes our little helpers the earthworms and other micro-organisms to help break down the organic matter. Having additional organic matter in the soil increases water retention.

    In our garden, we have managed to turn some ugly clay soil which was very difficult to till into workable soil in about 4-5 years. It still needs more work, but it is much better now. We accomplished that by using our trusty Troybuillt tiller and some muscle. Now that I have a compact, I'll be able to turn the soil with a single moldboard early in the spring. Let the turned soil sit and compost for a few weeks. Then rototill the whole mess together.

    Would I do this on a large scale? Probably not. The economics just aren't there. But, then again with time and money, you can do just about anything.

    Terry

    p.s. I forgot to mention that we try to put as much organic matter into our garden. Neighbors grass clippings, leaves gathered during the fall, goat and cow manure (stay away from horse manure - too much weed seed), vegatable scraps from the garden and household, etc. A lot goes directly into the garden. Some is deposited on our compost pile.

    <P ID="edit"><FONT SIZE=-1>Edited by TerryinMD on 10/02/01 07:49 AM (server time).</FONT></P>

  8. #8
    Super Member
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    Default Re: To plow or till???

    Dan,
    Farming varies from region to region. Back home in the West we plowed, disc, and harrowed everything. Now remember back there most everything is irrigated. So after you do that you have to make your irrigation rows as well. You need the soil worked up to do that. Now as far as for the soil condition we did it to get the remainder of last years crop into the ground. This does two things. One it provides nutrients for the next crop and two it brings up the more fertile soil that wasn't used last year and let's this years soil with the remaining crop be worked into the ground and then this is on the bottom. This helps to keep nourishing the soil. Out west you don't have to worry about the big rains like other places and so not alot of topsoil runoff worry. Also, and probably most important is that it provides a very fertile bed and makes it easier on the crops to grow with the soil worked up.

    With that said in the midwest it's a whole new ballgame. They don't irrigate so there are many more options. While this is an advantage it also limits the different crops you can grow. For instance back home we grew onions, potatoes, sugar beets, corn, wheat, etc. In the midwest they grow two things corn and soybeans. There is no irrigating so you have more options. Alot of the guys go no-til and so there the only thing that happens is that you plant right over last years crop basically. This is usually only done in high erosion areas though. Most of the guys around here, unless high erosion area, do the plow and disc method. Another big difference that I've seen is that mostly only flatland is farmed. Some guys with sprinkler systems farm hills but not many. In the midwest anything that the tractors don't tip over on is farmed.

    Someone had mentioned hardpan under the plowing. Well that's really only true if you're farming in clay. In the midwest there's a ton of it. Back in the west very little. So again different areas different ways. I still plow and disc everything just because that's the way I've always done it and I haven't been convinced that there is a better way. Personally if I had a choice of tilling or plowing a garden I'd plow and disc it. You get much better depth penetration and if you disc any organic material into the ground the deeper you go the better your soil condition is going to be.


  9. #9
    Epic Contributor Bird's Avatar
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    Default Re: To plow or till???

    DrDan, I don't have any scientific knowledge, but I tend to agree with your neighbor. I wouldn't want to work a garden without a tiller, but it goes about the same depth all the time, so after the garden was through for the year, I set my middle buster to run as deep as possible, plowed lengthwise and then at 90 degrees (crossways?) to tear it up much deeper, then ran the tiller over it again. And I only used the middle buster because I don't have a good turning plow or moldboard.

    But on the big farms around here you almost never see any plowing done except with those monstrous disks prior to planting. Then of course after crops are up, they use cultivators to "plow" between the rows.

    Bird

  10. #10
    Platinum Member
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    Default Re: To plow or till???

    You are right ankle deep is not very deep, I was getting sleepy[img]/w3tcompact/icons/smile.gif[/img] I stand corrected,I have my JD 660 set as deep as it will go and it is deeper than what I previously stated. Thnaks for pointing that out.


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