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Straw for OM

DiSc0Rd

5 year old buck +
There are a lot of farmers selling straw for 2 or 3 bucks a bail would it be beneficial to buy about 30 of them and throw them in the food plot and till it in to help increase the OM of my sand. When I got my soul Camille back the OM was under 1%
 

yoderjac

5 year old buck +
Well, here is the thing. if you have naked ground it would be a good idea, but if you have stuff growing, even weeds, I don't think I would go that route to build OM. Some folks apply OM and till it in. One problem is that you need a lot of material and tilling it in destroys the soil tilth and introduces O2 which causes OM to burn faster. It would take so much straw to make a difference, you really couldn't grow much if you just put it on top. If you soil is naked, putting straw on it could help reduce runoff and that would be the purpose as you would not use enough to build OM.

Building OM is a long-term process and it is best done top-down. In a case of low OM, I would simply put soil health as my primary focus and make deer a secondary consideration. To build OM, you want to essentially compost. You are trying to mix Carbon and Nitrogen. You can do this by growing a mix and/or rotation of legumes and grasses while minimizing tillage. If possible use T&M techniques. If you have heavy clay that glazes you may need to do min-till to break any crusting on the surface. You can use a 3-pt tiller and raise it with the 3-pt hitch so the tines barely touch the top inch.

Choose crops that will grow with poor soil fertility like WR, buckwheat, sunn hemp, and clover. These are all good deer crops but that is secondary. I've been mixing Sunn Hemp and Buckwheat for summer and using WR and CC for fall. Once the soil supports them I add light PTT or GHR to the fall mix. The GHR provides "organic tillage" and moves OM deeper in to the soil for you. This rotation has really helped me build OM over the years and remediate a lot of damage I caused with a 2-bottom plow and tiller in my early days. At the same time, all of these crops benefit deer so I'm actually killing 2 birds with one stone. There are other crops you can choose from based on your area and soil, but the key is planting crops that are easily supported by your soil and getting a good mix of C and N.

You get a double benefit from this. Not only do you get all of the crops you mow decomposing on top forming OM, you also get the root systems that die and start introducing OM deeper into the soil structure. It is even cheaper than straw because you are supporting your deer at the same time and straw would only add to the surface.

Folks often think about bringing in OM and top-dressing. There is nothing wrong with that if you don't till it in which can be counter productive from a soil health perspective. It seems like you could get a lot of OM that way, but it is deceptive. I had a few large trees cut down in my back yard. I had the tree removal company just chip it all and leave it in a large pile in my backyard. Each time I would cut the grass, I'd dump it on the pile and use my loader to mix it a bit. The wood chips provide the C and the grass provides the N. After about 3 years, the piles had decomposed pretty well. They were about 10% of the size of the original pile. The actual OM is probably a fraction of that 10% of physical matter left.

There really aren't great short-cuts to good soil health.

Thanks,

Jack
 

Tree Spud

5 year old buck +
What is "soul camille"?

Straw breaks down and disappears pretty quickly. In sand it won't be around long. It's what they put down for new grass on lawns. It won't hurt, but not a solution. How many acres are you talking?

I have loamy sand soils and if you really want to try and build OM, it will be a choice towards optimizing a food plot or building OM. You can still have food in an OM focused plot, but you can't have a food focused plot and still build OM. You need OM to grab nitrogen and some OM plants are better than others., so you need upward growth plant mass.
I'll let the so called experts chime in who will tell feel good stuff. The folks who really understand soil building are SD, ST Fanatic, & Crimson Clover. Go check some of their threads.

It requires discipline in an annual soil building approach from spring to fall, ideally 2-3 plant grow cycles from fall seeding to early spring, and then early to mid summer.
 

DiSc0Rd

5 year old buck +
Growing the OM into the soil is the plan just thought of that and had to ask. The buckwheat did ok this year with the tiny bit of rain we did get and the rye about the same. I'm going to try and plant sun hemp too next year but I'm having a hard time finding it
 

yoderjac

5 year old buck +
Growing the OM into the soil is the plan just thought of that and had to ask. The buckwheat did ok this year with the tiny bit of rain we did get and the rye about the same. I'm going to try and plant sun hemp too next year but I'm having a hard time finding it

Hancock has it. The offer free shipping on smaller quantities but one year, they offered it on 50 lb bags so I bought it from them. I think they realized they were losing money and no long offer free shipping on the 50 lb bags. I just talked to the local Coop manager and he ordered it for me. I was slight more expensive than I paid when I bought it from hancock but not that much.

Thanks,

Jack
 

SD51555

5 year old buck +
I love carbon talk. Here's the short version.

OM isn't built above ground, it's built below ground. Oxygen and sunshine on soil are the things to reduce before you look to build, cause that's where your OM will exit. Don't till cause that's the biggest injection of oxygen and sunlight you can make.

Grow a big crop of rye to all the way to maturity, then spread a low carbon plant (beans, peas, annual clovers, chicory, brassicas, really anything other than cereals, corn, sorghum) into it and mow it down. Let your low carbon plant eat up your straw as quickly as possible, and then flip back to rye in the fall, and repeat until you never see dirt, and your top layer starts turning black.

If you can dig up the original throw and mow thread, Crimson tells an amazing story from start to finish.
 

yoderjac

5 year old buck +
I agree, the Crimson n Camo T&M thread does a great job of taking the "Ray the soil guy" evangelism to farmers, and translating the principles to food plotters with small equipment.
 

Skeeter

A good 3 year old buck
For a good, free book, go to SARE.org and download "Building Soils for Better Crops, Sustainable Soil Management". It's under resources and learning, then SARE outreach publications. If you combine what you learn from the book with what the guys on here are saying you will be well on your way to building awesome soil.
 

TreeDaddy

5 year old buck +
DGallow's old threads are good reads

Check the dipper rotation thread in the lickcreek section. Seems he was on to this in 2014

bill
 

Tree Spud

5 year old buck +
I love carbon talk. Here's the short version.

OM isn't built above ground, it's built below ground. Oxygen and sunshine on soil are the things to reduce before you look to build, cause that's where your OM will exit. Don't till cause that's the biggest injection of oxygen and sunlight you can make.

Grow a big crop of rye to all the way to maturity, then spread a low carbon plant (beans, peas, annual clovers, chicory, brassicas, really anything other than cereals, corn, sorghum) into it and mow it down. Let your low carbon plant eat up your straw as quickly as possible, and then flip back to rye in the fall, and repeat until you never see dirt, and your top layer starts turning black.

If you can dig up the original throw and mow thread, Crimson tells an amazing story from start to finish.

That is what i have been doing, over seeding in the fall with WR & red clover. Letting it grow and terminating the following spring.

Are you saying to over seed with the beans, clovers, brassica, etc. before you terminate the WR?

What bans ... soy beans?
 

SD51555

5 year old buck +
That is what i have been doing, over seeding in the fall with WR & red clover. Letting it grow and terminating the following spring.

Are you saying to over seed with the beans, clovers, brassica, etc. before you terminate the WR?

What bans ... soy beans?
Broadcast and terminate the same day. If I had the plot space and farm connections, I'd be planting bin run beans about 3-4 bushels/ac into that rye. Pray for the deer to wipe them out in time to overseed with rye again late summer early fall depending on your distance from the center pole.
 

DiSc0Rd

5 year old buck +
Soil wont support beans, it barely grew rye. I'm going to try a homemade irrigation system next year, though I doubt we will get 11 straight weeks of no rain again I want to have some form of water even if it's just out of a truck
 

SD51555

5 year old buck +
Soil wont support beans, it barely grew rye. I'm going to try a homemade irrigation system next year, though I doubt we will get 11 straight weeks of no rain again I want to have some form of water even if it's just out of a truck
How big is your plot?
 

BrushyPines

Yearling... With promise
Man I would love to read that Throw & Mow thread, but I'm sure it's in the archives by now. LOL
 

Tree Spud

5 year old buck +
Broadcast and terminate the same day. If I had the plot space and farm connections, I'd be planting bin run beans about 3-4 bushels/ac into that rye. Pray for the deer to wipe them out in time to overseed with rye again late summer early fall depending on your distance from the center pole.

Couple of questions ...

My local Feed Mill dealer suggested growing sudan grass then mowing when it gets to 2'-3'. Repeat that process as many times as you can during the growing season. Thoughts?

Why no cereal grains?
 

4wanderingeyes

5 year old buck +
I have heard of people spreading lots of horse manure, and cow manure, then planting winter rye, and clover every fall for about 5 years, and you will notice a couple inches of black dirt.
 
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