Cultivate before sowing green manure?

Discussion in 'Planting, growing, nurturing Plants' started by garyb, Mar 9, 2009.

  1. garyb

    garyb Junior Member

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    Hello,

    We've recently moved from the city to the country and have purchased a property. We're in the New England area of NSW. We've identified a couple of paddocks that would be suitable for a zone 2 orchard and zone 1 vege garden. Since we're approaching winter and the land is somewhat degraded, I'd like to plant a green manure crop prior to starting to plant out in spring.

    What are people's views on cultivating/not cultivating before sowing the green manure seeds? I'd prefer not to disturb the soil too much but would like to get a reasonable germination rate. The paddock currently comprises various grasses. If I were to slash/mow ands then sow, what sort of germination rate could I expect versus to slash then cultivate?

    My green manures are white clover, fenugreek and barrel medic.

    Thanks, Gary
     
  2. trimnut2

    trimnut2 Junior Member

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    Re: Cultivate before sowing green manure?

    Gary my first question would be what is the likely hood of rain? And how much?
    Also you mention the patch is degraded what do you mean? Can anyone local give you a good picture of how your selected green manures perform in your locality?

    Here, about 180 kms south of Sydney in the highlands, at this time of year we scatter seed through the grass then slash. The seed ends up low enough in the organic matter profile for it to germinate. With oats we sod seed it through the previously eaten sward. I would only cultivate if the ground was excessively tight or if we had a pasture pest that could not be eliminated any other way.
     
  3. garyb

    garyb Junior Member

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    Re: Cultivate before sowing green manure?

    Trimnut2,

    There is a forecast for rain over the next few days. I'd estimate 5-10mm on the way. Average rainfall in March and April is around 60mm and 50mm respectively.

    By 'degraded' I mean that it will need 'improving' to support strong fruit trees and good vege growth. I haven't had the soil tested yet but it appears to be fairly light in density and texture. I've opted for that mix of green manure/cover crops because they are leguminous, good bee forage and in two cases are relatively deep-rooted. I'm not sure how they'll go in the area, though.

    Thanks for the info on what you do. It sounds like it could work fairly well in our situation.

    Regards, Gary
     
  4. raincrow

    raincrow Junior Member

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    Re: Cultivate before sowing green manure?

    I would like to try a no-till drill but can't find one to rent cheap locally. Found this web-site in case you are interested. Some places let you use them at little cost through government programs. https://www.vicnotill.com.au/ Tried to search the University of New England,NSW website, but couldn't get it to work for me.
     
  5. trimnut2

    trimnut2 Junior Member

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    Re: Cultivate before sowing green manure?

    raincrow Your post reminds me of the many differences between Australia and the US. Your USDA support and extensions services and the support provided through tertiary institutions doesn't exist in Australia. Our equivalents have been underfunded for too long. How big an area do you wish to sod seed?

    garyb
    Sounds good is it consistent?

    I would try to find a local who knows their stuff. A few questions at the local co-op or possibly seed merchant based locally or you might even find a larger cattle or horse operator who has a good local knowledge. They will be about and known to other good operators. Taking your selection of plants they may suggest (for example) you would do better with a combination of oats and vetch with your suggested legumes added may do better. Here Fenugreek for example is a much better warm months performer. Soil tests are another window on the problem but give me a good experienced head any day.
    I cannot see it causing any harm. Poke that seed in. All the best.
     
  6. garyb

    garyb Junior Member

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    Re: Cultivate before sowing green manure?

    Thanks again for your input trimnut2 and raincrow.

    We haven't been here very long so we don't have any experience about the consistency of the rainfall.

    The area we're looking at sowing is around an acre (4,000 square metres).

    Regards, Gary
     
  7. raincrow

    raincrow Junior Member

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    Re: Cultivate before sowing green manure?

    Hi Trimnut2, When I googled no-till drill I came across a website explaining how the Australian government is providing tillers retrofitted for no-till seed planting to asian countries and so I made an assumption that others might be able to participate. Sorry about that. I think here, the big farmers are under so much pressure to control erosion by the fishing industry, sport and commercial, that they have used their powerful lobby to get grants for these types of things. But still there are not many available here and none close to us. We have about 20 acres of livestock pasture. This climate is former oak-savannah, so is zero rainfall may to november. I try to scatter pasture mix seed when the rain starts in november mixed with straw to hide some of it from the birds, but they get a lot of it. Last year we used a small harrow pulled behind an atv to try to get some of it dug in a little. In smaller areas I'm wondering if I could spread some seed and let the goats tread it in. Any ideas would be appreciated.
     
  8. raincrow

    raincrow Junior Member

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    Re: Cultivate before sowing green manure?

    After I shut down the computer and headed to bed it occurred to me that perhaps that underfunding helped give rise to permaculture? IF so it was good money not spent. Most of the USDA and extensions goes to support the corporate farming formula. Although organic farmers seem to be getting more respect and attention these days. rc
     
  9. fruit fly

    fruit fly Junior Member

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    Re: Cultivate before sowing green manure?

    Gday Gary,
    Welcome to the New England (gods country mate)
    Ive lived here all of my short 30 years in the Armidale area and we traditionally get around 36-38inches of rain fall per year.
    thats if we can really assume we will recieve a traditional rainfall anymore :?
    The last ten years we have had a pretty consistant pattern of when it rains we get heaps then its like someone turns the tap off for a couple of months and just as it gets desperate we seem too get a break again (that said we still seem to be able to recieve our average it just falls all at once then nothing). We have been really lucky compared a lot of other places we can not complain.
    Was talking to a bloke who has rainfall figures for his farm in the Walcha area dating back to 1900 and January 2009 was the driest January since 1921 :shock: then just as it looked like it was never going to rain again we get 6 inches in one weekend and we are all safe again for now this seems to be the norm.
    In regard to crops (oats,lucerne etc) in the NE most farmers sow in late summer early autumn for winter stock feed so seed can be expensive and hard to find this time of year.
    Hope rainfall info helps
    fruit fly
     
  10. garyb

    garyb Junior Member

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    Re: Cultivate before sowing green manure?

    Thanks for the info, fruit fly. It's very helpful.

    Regards, Gary
     
  11. Michaelangelica

    Michaelangelica Junior Member

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  12. garyb

    garyb Junior Member

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    Re: Cultivate before sowing green manure?

    Thanks Michaelangelica. I'll have a closer look at the Landline story.

    Regards, Gary
     
  13. bazman

    bazman Junior Member

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    Re: Cultivate before sowing green manure?

    I would recommend Geoff Lawton's Food Forest DVD and if you have not done any landscape improving getting his harvesting water dvd too

    https://permaculture.org.au/store/food_forest_dvd.htm
    https://permaculture.org.au/store/water_harvesting_dvd.htm

    You could try using seed balls, these work great and just sit and wait for the right time to grow, Hint, add a little crushed charcoal, works like magic. :D

    https://www.pathtofreedom.com/pathproject/gardening/seedballs.shtml
    https://permaculturetokyo.blogspot.com/2006/10/seed-balls.html

    Or you could try keyline ripping and sowing into those rips.
     
  14. trimnut2

    trimnut2 Junior Member

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    Re: Cultivate before sowing green manure?

    Yo Gary and raincrow, my comments apply to both of you.
    Really you need a spring tyne, or rolling disc, sod seeder. What also works is a trailing set of disc harrows or an "airway cultivator" with a seed tickle box and a trailing carpet rake. You can control the depth of the disc harrow cut with the hydralics and hence use the rolling disc cut as the seed furrow. The carpet covering the seed over. A roller afterwards never runs astray.

    But granted you patience why not start doing half acre with a heavy beck or broad fork. Sure that is slow but that sort of progress teaches lots. Can you pick the time before rain? Spreading seed the day before doesn't give the birds much of a chance either. All the best.

    Gary, Did you get that seed out? The seed will be starting to move after this good rain. Little heads popping out. Delightful.
    If you are going to use irrigation with the prospective fruit trees vegetable patch setting it up early and using that water to produce your green manures if a wise step. Let us know how you got on.
     
  15. garyb

    garyb Junior Member

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    Re: Cultivate before sowing green manure?

    @bazman - thanks for your suggestions. We've got Geoff's DVD but are only half way through it at the moment. We'll finish it soon.

    @trimnut2 - We haven't sown the seed yet. That should be in the next week or two.

    Regards, Gary
     

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