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3 years ago

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We are still trying to form a plan regarding how we are going to approach our next land project, how quickly we want it done, and how much we want to use the horses as opposed to hiring it done (just to get it over with). Either way, it will require care and maintenance after, and it seems a subsoiler is the best approach. We have been researching these, and information varies. Some say you need a minimum of 3 horses to pull a standard 12-18" subsoiler. Research has indicated a 16-18 cut in our heavy clay ground would creat 600-800 lbs of draft.

Now I have a very large team (18.2-18.3). I don't push them hard, but they are generally in good condition with the odd jobs we do. In the past, some experienced teamsters helped us do some experimenting on sulky plows. They pulled a 12 inch plow without a second thought, and it took almost 2 hours of steady plowing ( with short breaks at the end of long rows) to even break a sweat on a 16 inch plow. The next time we used a 14 inch off and on for a good 6 hour day, and they did great. They were sweaty and tired at the end, but still going strong. They regularly pull hardwood logs that we've calculated to be in the 400-600 lb draft category, with occasional 1/4 mile trips pulling loads with 800-1000 lbs draft. Mind you, I am specifically referring to pounds draft here, not the weight of the load.

Do you think my team would have any issue if I invested in a subsoiler with a single shank? Should I plan minimal depth (10"), or the whole depth (18"), or just increase as we go? Assuming average condition and temperate weather, should I expect to complete very little in a day, or potentially pull a couple miles worth?

Dris, you know this team. What are your thoughts?

Second question, for those who have dealt with a subsoiler....there are 3 main options-- a walking, a riding (reminds me of a sulky plow), and a 3 point hitch type. We are considering the latter, primarily due to lack of storage space. I can hang that on the wall when done. It would require the I&J 3pt hitch attachment on my forecart. Most I've found recommend no more than a 25-30 horsepower tractor, so I'm wondering how well that would hold up with continuous pressure from the horses. If you'd prefer either of the other 2 options, I'd love to know the reason why.

As always, thanks in advance. I do value your experiences!

Klaus Karbaumer says 2016-01-08 16:23:46 (CST)

My first question would be why use a subsoiler ? If the ground is already plowed the right succession and combination of plants will do the same job, even better, without the strain or the investment in an additional tool. I have not used a subsoiler on the ground when I started working this farm and at the beginning I could barely get a plow in. Now we have soil with excellent tilth ( if you have seen the video that Joe did about our farm you can see for yourself) and all along the way the ground produced good income.

3 years ago via Forums | Front Porch Forum

Redgate says 2016-01-08 21:41:06 (CST)

We aren't yet sure we will be using a plow. We are pretty much no-till here. Plowing aside, though, once these keylines are created, they won't need plowed again. They will, however, occasionally need a bit of cutting to encourage mixing (rather than turning), and more importantly, water penetration. The subsoiler seems the best option, and all keyline farmers use and recommend them.

3 years ago via Forums | Front Porch Forum

Fort Causeway says 2016-01-11 19:47:47 (CST)


I recommend subsoiling in dryland on a keyline pattern, a few inches below the thickest root mass of your grass. (Grass, not legumes brassicas or herbs, builds organic matter) As the roots, soil organic matter is nurtured deeper, you will be able to subsoil deeper with the same amount of draft. In my opinion you want to configure a "no till" subsoiler, with a smooth disc, thin shank, and no till point; such as a Yeomans plow or Case Ecolotill 2500, shanks and points for these available at Shoup Manufacturing, and Probably a Yeomans plow shank behind a hydraulic 3pt hitch cart would be my favourite configuration. If you hit a rock the hitch cart would bounce sideways?
I do not like Parabolic shank or MRD shank subsoilers and I think they will pull a lot harder.....
Ideally you would use Sorghum, Yellow Sweetclover, Radish, turnip, beets, and other soil building cover crops to eliminate compaction..... But none of those things would grow in my soil until I used a subsoiler, my organic matter has risen from .5 % to over 4%. So there is never a one size fits all. I sure like Neal Kinseys book "Hands on Agronomy" and his reasons when/if a subsoiler should be used. I think subsoiler on the keyline becomes a fantastic water management tool, tough on haying equipment.....

3 years ago via Forums | Front Porch Forum

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