To No Dig or Not to No Dig, That is the Question

Finding land, working a small plot or anything else countryside related
Shizuman
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Post by Shizuman »

Yea he's awesome, great podcast too.

I looked into tarps and the cost didn't seem worth it so I have been solarizing instead,
It was working great until the rainy season started....
How much are you tilling at the moment mate? and what situations are you finding work better to till vs no till?

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Zasso Nouka
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Post by Zasso Nouka »

Same here, the cost of good tarps was astronomical so we never bought any and we've totally stopped using any plastic mulches/vinyls, apart from polytunnel coverings.
Shizuman wrote:
Tue Jun 21, 2022 6:20 pm
How much are you tilling at the moment mate? and what situations are you finding work better to till vs no till?
We still do use the tiller sometimes to remove weeds but set it to only turn over the top couple of centimetres and sometimes use that to mix in some composted manure but mostly when adding manure we just broadcast it on the surface and let the worms turn it in. Talking of which we now have massive worm populations in areas that haven't been tilled, when I was harvesting potatoes the other day it was unbelievable how many worms there were in the soil. As for advantages we are using a lot less fertiliser/manure, our potatoes were grown this year without any fertiliser/manure at all and it might well be one of the largest harvests we've ever had.

We do still use oyster shell in places to ensure enough micronutrients and composted chicken manure in places where we are growing fast leafy crops but we've almost totally stopped using cow manure and pig manure in other places as so far crops have done just fine without them. I think it might be down to the increased biological activity in the soil from bacteria, fungi, worms and other microorganisms.

We're also seeing much less diversity in weed populations which is making controlling the remaining weeds far easier. Haven't used the tractor at all last year and if we don't use it this year we're thinking of selling it next year however the front bucket is pretty useful for moving things around but if we haven't used it for 2 years then maybe we don't need it anymore.

How have you been getting on with no till ? Are there any areas you do still till ?

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Post by Shizuman »

Thats really awesome to hear mate, And the potato harvest is a big win eh!

I have had a very similar experience, I have 3 separate vegetable fields and one I have gone completely no till on with grass around the outside, Ive been grass/hay mulching everything except leafy veg and the soil change has been unreal mate, the onions I got were great! I turn over quite a bit of Nakahara baby leaf so ive been doing that in dedicated beds though with no mulching just raking in chicken manure and rapeseed meal.

The other 2 veggie fields were a mess when I got them, sugina everywhere, so I've got living pathways seeded to perennial rye and clover and I have been tilling the beds, I had an over winter crop of wheat in there companion planted with clover (never doing that again) which seemed to have reduced the amount of sugina that popped up this year, looks like its been out competed so far, so with any luck if I can keep it planted I'm hoping that with a light wire weed once a week I can knock the energy right out of the root system and give away the tiller.

Which would be good because the oil seal on the transmission is leaking pretty bad....

One thing I have noticed though is the soil just doesn't compact anywhere near as much as before, as long as there isnt to much crop waste from last crop the Jang seeder doesnt have too much trouble. I am thinking of getting the yazaki disk attachment for it though instead of the standard boot, ive heard its better for cutting through the left over roots.

you mentioned previous that you used Beneficial's (nematodes?) have you noticed any changes to your pest pressure?

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Zasso Nouka
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Post by Zasso Nouka »

Sounds like it's working really well for you man :clap:

Sugina can be a real pain in the arse but it is beatable with gradually weakening the root system.

Like you our soil is so springy now and we don't get any flooding in heavy rains, other fields can be completely waterlogged but not ours so that's another bonus. I've not seen the Yazaki Disc before, is it good ? That would be nice to be able to plant while the previous crops roots haven't broken down yet and not have to wait so long. Another idea I got from No Till Growers was running our lawn mower over a crop that's finished, I wish we could get a BCS like he has here. We give it one high pass and then follow with a low pass, that shreds everything pretty fine and it breaks down into the soil very quickly.

Haven't used the nematodes this year but so far not getting many cutworms or other soil pest so maybe some nematodes are surviving because of the no till ? Also we have a lot of a small black predatory soil beetle, it's long and thin and tunnels through the surface of the soil and eats cutworms and other larvae but doesn't eat worms. Their numbers have increased dramatically since we stopped tilling, it's this little bad boy

Image


ナガヒョウタンゴミムシ

They grab cutworms and other prey usually from the rear and start working their way towards the head, eating it whilst the prey is thrashing around. It's quite brutal to see.

One thing I don't agree with Farmer Jesse on is stopping using BT and Spinoace, we'd loose far too many crops if we didn't spray young seedlings or things like rucolla would be unsellable if we didn't spray them. If we had perfectly weed free soil then we could grow under netting and that's something we're working towards there but not quite weed free yet.

Do you grow leafy salad through the rainy season and summer ? If you do how do you deal with that ? We lose so much to fungal leaf infections in the rainy season or baby lettuces bolt when it's really hot and you only get a single cut from them rather than 3 or 4 at other times of the year.

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Post by Shizuman »

Yea the water retaining capacity of the soil is amazing, I have definitely seen an reduction in the amount of water I have been using this year.

This is the tool on nihon nogyou

https://www.nou.co.jp/shop/g/g0505003500132/

This is the video that he discusses the disc attachment at around the 7 minute mark

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aeE8xXx1w-8

I like the lawnmower idea, I'm a makita fan boy so I've been considering getting one of their 18v x 2 mowers.
Have you looked into the Orec flail mowers at all? BCS seem to be more expensive to buy and ship to me, it'd be a cool thing to have with a couple of the attachments but I don't think could justify the price tag. The new manure/compost spreader does look cool though!

I didnt know about the soil beetles, will look into that, the cutworms have been giving me a fair bit of trouble this year!

Yea BT and spinoace are life savers, netting sometimes doesnt work eh and its no fun hand picking caterpillars!
For our rocket, we did the deep compost mulch so netting only works fine for us but if it lifts at all we notice the radishes we plant in the same beds get hit hard first before the rocket almost like a catch crop.
We grow the fast crops like baby leaf, rocket and radishes in a caterpillar tunnel that just keeps the rain off, that tunnel has a dedicated water line so its easier to manage the watering, we currently use overhead but I think during June/July drip might be a better option but so far so good. I am planning to do my last planting at the beginning of July and then resume planting from mid August, also might put some shade cloth up too. I haven't had problems with bolting but I get worried about bitterness, but I think our climate might be different being that we are higher up and on the side of a mountain.

What sort of leafy veg do you aim for over summer if any?

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Post by Zasso Nouka »

:shock: :eek: My god that's a pretty steep price, I think I only paid just over 20,000円 when I bought our Jang but it does look quite useful and would be nice to be able to seed into beds before the previous crop has broken down.

I do like the flail mowers but it's justifying the cost when we've already got a lawn mower for the cafe lawn. I can just imagine the look on Mrs Nouka's face when I announce we've spent a couple of thousand yen on another piece of equipment :lol:. Maybe if we do sell the tractor I could use some of that to buy one or trade it in or something.

I'm no expert on cutworms but we seem to have a lot less this year, having just said that we'll probably get overrun with the little buggers shortly :roll:. We do have quite a lot of those beetles living in our soil so maybe they are taking care of them, I actually feel sorry for the cutworms when you see one getting eaten. It would be like having a shark start eating you from your feet up and slowly working towards your head :eek:. The nematodes do work well but it will be too hot to apply them soon if not already, beginning of the rainy season is the best time or late september for autumn coverage.

The main problem we have with netting is the first time you lift it to start harvesting that seems to let pests in but not enough predators to keep the crop safe and then once typhoon season rolls around we're reluctant to put nets down at all, they can cause even more damage flapping around then whereas a BT or Spinoace spray every 10 days keeps most crops safe and Spinoace works on flea beetles too so it's a definite win.

Kinjiso/handama is a good hot weather leafy crop for us, can be cooked or eaten raw. It loves the heat and is easy to grow, in autumn take a few cuttings and overwinter plants indoors. Ensai loves hot humid summers, small new leaves can bulk out a salad or harvest the main stems as a separate crop. Ensai grown in soil has a much fuller flavour than all of the hydroponic ones most people are familiar with. We've just started seeding Kairan which will replace stick broccoli over the summer and we're also seeding Saishin/Choy Sum now which I think is the same as Asparana, certainly looks very similar. We're also still seeding pea shoots, just to see how hot they can take, baby soft shoots could go into a salad mix and the larger ones on their own. Pea shoots are great for improving your soil once they've finished cropping as the roots fix nitrogen and the top growth is great for putting organic matter back into the soil. I guess I should add a lot of the above to the seeding/sowing thread :)

On the salad front we seeded a couple of rows a few weeks back and want to squeeze another seeding in once we've got more of our spuds out but like you we usually take a break for the summer months because of either bolting or bitterness but we'll try some of the red summer varieties this year on much wider spacing than normal and see how they go. I certainly envy your extra elevation at times like this and of course the stunning view you have of Mt Fuji 8-)