Using Plant roots for aeration

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Re: Using Plant roots for aeration

Post by Ebenezer » Fri Sep 21, 2018 8:54 am

Bahiagrass has been used in field crop rotations for disease suppression and for deep roots for hardpan penetration. I doubt that I can find the reference but at one time the planting of sudangrass or sorghum sudangrass, allowing it to get to 4' and then mowing as high as possible (max 18") created the largest weight of roots after the cutting or any species tested. Those roots when decayed were a big kickstart to OM increase and soil improvement. For any forage or plant to have the deepest of roots it has to have adequate to mature growth height without a lot of cutting or grazing to shortness.

Soil health has become a catchall phrase. A chemical company can use it to sell a spray, a fertilizer company can use it to sell a fertilizer and the bigger problem to me are the magazine authors who write about it prior to studying about it and merely think that soil health is a new phrase to describe soil fertility (NPK and minor elements). It is definitely linked, good or bad, to chemicals, fertilizer and other things but is more "earth, plant and animal" in thought than mere inputs. I had the chance to hear Dr. Ray Archelleta and his cohorts a few times and that was eye opening.

Where I differ a bit, is that I want to rush the process on some poor piedmont soils. Daddy used to say that there were spots where a pea would have to roll around to find a home. To get to where I need to be to start the plant/soil relationship, I have resorted to and will continue to use doses of poultry litter as well as lime to kick start the nutrients, to moderate the the soil chemistry and profile and to advance the growth of plant mixes as needed. Plant mixes are important rather than monoculture. Decreasing or eliminating soil disturbance is key. Always maintaining ground cover as much as possible is also key. We fight a huge battle on OM in the SE USA with higher moisture, hot weather and warmer winters.

But we visited a farm in north GA a few weeks ago that had OM at 5% at a 9" depth. Pastures looked great. An intense rotation program and a high stocking rate. And I'm guessing that off farm litter and manure had sped the process up. Sure beats the old adage that "it takes 100 years to form an inch of topsoil".

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