Plow vs Disc

Wed Sep 21, 2011 11:04 pm

I am wondering if a turning plow would benefit my renewed farming venture. I want to persue row crops and have not done so for many years. My father always had me disc up an area to plant, we never owned a turning plow. I think maybe now it was related to his stories of having to pull one behind a mule as a boy, and he never wanted to see one again :x :wink:
Our soil type is sandy loam and mostly retired cattle pasture,no rocks, but the occasional root. I am seeing many for sale near me ,but soil tpe varies here.
I would love to ask Dad about it but he passed last Nov. so I thought what better place to ask :)

Re: Plow vs Disc

Thu Sep 22, 2011 3:52 am

I always plant a cover crop Turnips, kale, Beets, Water Cress.And I like to turn them under with the plow in the spring.

Re: Plow vs Disc

Thu Sep 22, 2011 5:11 am

You're correct about soil type. A sandy loam might benefit from the plow by bringing up nutrients that would be beneficial to the crops. If the usable soil were only a few inches deep plowing deep could bring up things like clay and rock not beneficial to the crop. Another consideration is if you are trying to build the soil then plowing under a cover crop would make sense. In either case you stand the chance of bringing up dormant weed seed and overwintering bugs. No two fields are the same and I would talk to your County Extension Agent about what is best for you. The old saying "plow in the fall and disc in the spring' is still a good one in some cases.

Re: Plow vs Disc

Thu Sep 22, 2011 6:26 am

In my opinion you really need both. I plow in the the late winter and disc before planting. I like to "turn under" those weed seeds. Just my 2 cents worth. :)

Re: Plow vs Disc

Thu Sep 22, 2011 7:02 am

I agree with Tezelle. People that have been using no till and minimum till have been learning that the ground needs to be plowed deep occasionally. Otherwise it forms a hard layer at the bottom of the disking level, that does not allow water to soak down and makes it harder for roots to grow deep. I have a problem that I only have a few inches of sol on top of clay and gravel, and each time I plow deep it brings up some clay and mixes it with the soil. Short term means that spot is not quite as good as before, but long term I am getting better soil overall due to mixing the clay with better soil and with the manure I haul in regularly.

Re: Plow vs Disc

Thu Sep 22, 2011 9:32 am

John, I too have crappy clay soil that I have been ammending with compost. It is getting better and better, but I have learned another trick that is really paying off. I am using okra to help fix my soil. Okra roots can go down 5 feet (i have heard deeper) into the ground both bringing up nutients to the surface and loosening the ground as they decay. There are a few other veggies that do the same thing, but I love okra.

Re: Plow vs Disc

Thu Sep 22, 2011 10:47 pm

Alfalfa and sweet clover also have deep tap roots.---In our deep black gumbo here we have to deep rip and plow deep in the fall!---in the spring the big tiller makes the finest seedbed that you ever saw!---NOT all areas would be able to do this because of shallow soil depth, but works for us! thanks; sonny

Re: Plow vs Disc

Thu Sep 22, 2011 11:35 pm

Thank you all so much for all of your opinions. We are going to put in cover crops so, I suppose I will have to add a plow to my implement shed.
Thanks again. Bill

Re: Plow vs Disc

Fri Sep 23, 2011 5:04 pm

This year I used the ripper instead of the layoff plow to make rows, and plowed the row middles about 16-18 inches deep to help the roots to find water. Seemed to help. Saw a program called "Corn College" on RFD-TV, and they talked about keeping the planter path sacred, and ripping it deep.

Re: Plow vs Disc

Wed Oct 26, 2011 12:49 pm

LonghornRancher wrote:....... Okra roots can go down 5 feet (i have heard deeper) into the ground both bringing up nutients to the surface and loosening the ground as they decay. There are a few other veggies that do the same thing, but I love okra.
I did not realize okra roots went that deep, but then that is just another reason to grow something I really like anyway. :D

Re: Plow vs Disc

Wed Oct 26, 2011 3:04 pm

I use a moldboard plow in the fall and a disc in the spring. Seems to work just fine for me, even in this rocky soil.