Subsoiling opinions

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bball
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Subsoiling opinions

Postby bball » Sat Apr 28, 2018 7:50 pm

Anyone have any experience, opinions, or considerations about subsoiling some pasture areas that tend to stay wet. Soil strata is approx 6-10" black topsoil (heavy organic matter), then approximately 8-12" heavy clay, underneath that is sand/sugar sand down to atleast 4 foot. Hit water at approx 42" typically. Hoping if I run a subsoiler with a mole at approx 14" will create some channels to improve drainage on the topsoil. Appreciate any feedback.

Will wait until late summer when things are at their dryers to subsoil approx every 30". Am I wasting time and fuel or has anyone seen this help in a pasture situation?
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Re: Subsoiling opinions

Postby Nesikep » Sat Apr 28, 2018 8:09 pm

we have some areas of hardpan.. I subsoil when it's dry too..

Here's a video of me doing it here.. about 24" deep.. I drop it as far down as it'll go.. It's got 4" wide shovels on the bottoms of the shanks, really lifts the soil.. Finds nice rocks too
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Re: Subsoiling opinions

Postby Dave » Sat Apr 28, 2018 11:34 pm

I would want to subsoil deep enough to get through the bottom of the clay. I agree with doing it in late summer. The drier it is the better it will fracture. I subsoiled my winter sacrifice area every year to break up the compaction. It sure helped, unfortunately by spring it was compacted again every year.
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Re: Subsoiling opinions

Postby Texasmark » Sun Apr 29, 2018 6:57 am

All types of soils, farming practices and numerous subsoilers. I had an airline pilot farmer nearby with a 105 White and a 3 shank that looked to be 3' long. I like the Hay King Pasture renovator and is my primary "plowing" tool which I run around 8", give or take, deep.

On farm sites I read where folks with places such as yours do what you are intending to do and get positive results.....makes sense. I'm remembering the author of the piece was running pretty deep....forget just how deep.
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What is plow pan? I don't technically know but expect it is the interface of soil (clay) that goes untouched from year to year adjacent to soil that get things that go say 4-6" deep year to year. Since 6" is where most roots grow and plowing costs money, why go any deeper???????

I'm in Houston Black Clay, some of the nastiest stuff you want to fool with when "it" doesn't want to be bothered. In the summer it cracks open and some of the cracks are 6" across at the top and as long as you care to follow them in lateral length. I have attempted to find the bottom and gave up at 6 feet on some of the larger ones. These cracks allow nutrients and moisture to penetrate well below the root zone and allow water to be stored for clay's bright spot....providing moisture for late summer crops.

When the rains come and fill up the cracks the clay essentially melts and becomes one gooey, muddy, blob of a mess. This mess eventually solidifies and seals off a lot of the "loosening" efforts of the past. The only way to make it percolate is to add dry matter. Texas A&M U. (TAMU) Ag. Extension Services publishes many "letters" on how important it is to mold "plant stubble" into the soil (rather than burn it off....the easy, non productive way to get rid of crop residue) to provide humus and break up the soil.

My current practice is the renovator running "contour" to the terrain in the fall when the clay is hard and responds to the blades. (If you try to renovate when too wet the hole just closes behind you.) As long as it is dry when you renovate, over the following month or so, the soil will actually crack open along the seams that the renovator sliced through the soil (with minimal surface disturbance thanks to the coulters that precede the shanks).

If I am doing a hay meadow, that is where I stop the tillage and come back with commercial fertilizer just before a rain. This combo does two things: Catches what otherwise would be runoff and allows the fertilizer that hasn't already been absorbed into the soil (or evaporated) to move into the root zone with the following rains. That's it for that.

If putting in a cash crop I then run a 3 pt tiller over the soil with the gate open at a moderate speed to incorporate the stubble into the top several inches of soil....stubble is from hay production, not stemy small grains so there isn't a lot of it. Soil is much more uniform as compared to running a tandem disc which, in the fall is almost useless, weighted down or not, as the clay is hard and penetration is minimal.

I can do with one pass of the tiller what it would take several passes with the disc harrow and the results are smoother and more uniform. Follow on is with a spike harrow which could be attached to the tiller for a one pass operation. I don't usually include the harrow with the tiller as I come back with commercial fertilizer (broadcast) and then run the harrow to incorporate it and reduce evaporation. Last pass is drilling the seed.
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Re: Subsoiling opinions

Postby Brute 23 » Sun Apr 29, 2018 8:33 am

I use a subsoiler also but it does not have mole on bottom. We usually do it the opposite. We wait until we have some good moisture and get after it because it cuts nice, neat, slices with out tearing a bunch of ground up. Plus, it takes pretty good moisture to get it to go deep.

The pasture renovator is a great tool also. I see the same results with both.

We take the renovator when its wet and you literally cut nice squares out. Cut it one way then cut it perpindicular the other way.
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Re: Subsoiling opinions

Postby chevytaHOE5674 » Sun Apr 29, 2018 11:20 am

We have heavy clay soil and if you subsoil when it it moist all you do is smear the clay and seal it up much like a pond liner and it actually creates huge mess and you end up with ponding water everywhere. When it is dry you get it to crumble and fracture apart.
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Re: Subsoiling opinions

Postby Brute 23 » Sun Apr 29, 2018 9:39 pm

That makes sense. Ours is either black, sandy loam, or beach sand. We don't have any clay like that.

The Bermudas that make runners really like the pasture renovator. You can get out there while it's good and wet and slice those runners. With good moisture it's like planting again.
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Re: Subsoiling opinions

Postby Stocker Steve » Sun Apr 29, 2018 9:52 pm

bball wrote:Anyone have any experience, opinions, or considerations about subsoiling some pasture areas that tend to stay wet.


An Indiana dairy was written up in Graze for subsoiling their pastures. I recall that they claimed to increase forage production by 1,000 lb. per acre per year.
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Re: Subsoiling opinions

Postby Texasmark » Mon Apr 30, 2018 9:27 am

Brute 23 wrote:I use a subsoiler also but it does not have mole on bottom. We usually do it the opposite. We wait until we have some good moisture and get after it because it cuts nice, neat, slices with out tearing a bunch of ground up. Plus, it takes pretty good moisture to get it to go deep.

The pasture renovator is a great tool also. I see the same results with both.

We take the renovator when its wet and you literally cut nice squares out. Cut it one way then cut it perpindicular the other way.


I grew up down where you are....flat as a pancake. Up here I'm on the side/crest of a hill and I can't/don't want to cross plow except on one field that is at the top of the hill, my cash crop field, and I can with it. When running my open station equipment on it, the direction of the wind (usually S.) determines the working plan for the day.

On Coastal, no doubt slicing the runners and making a new plant out of each nodule does improve the hay patch.
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Re: Subsoiling opinions

Postby 1wlimo » Fri May 04, 2018 7:59 pm

chevytaHOE5674 wrote:We have heavy clay soil and if you subsoil when it it moist all you do is smear the clay and seal it up much like a pond liner and it actually creates huge mess and you end up with ponding water everywhere. When it is dry you get it to crumble and fracture apart.


Fully agree, go on wet clay and all you do is make a mess, even if yopu do not see it.

Best way to know how deep you have to run is dig a hole, and run a few inches under the compaced layer to get the shatter.

Did many acres when I was young with a single shank subsoiler. Every 30 inchs that took a long time to get any where.
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