Aeration of Soil

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That could be any of the subject matter you would like clarified or suggestions to include for a follow up book.

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River Glen
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Aeration of Soil

Post by River Glen » Fri May 04, 2007 3:39 pm

I have only read the book once and I cannot recall Peter talking about the aeration of the soil.

What is the NSF view on chisel ploughs?
Michael Pauling

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Post by duane » Fri May 18, 2007 10:04 am

Peter's basically follows the no till philosphy.

If you had a hard pan or wanted to plough Peter suggested you use a single tyne rather than a wider 8,10 or bigger tynes and simply limit the extent to which you rip in case of unseasonally high rainfall event.

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Post by vhoffman » Thu Jul 26, 2007 11:30 pm

also allow weeds to aerate the soil because of their tap roots, which not only break the soil up, but bring minerals up from deep down. The tap rooted weeds effectively 'cork' the ground. This is the natural process required before grass can grow.

Ian James
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Soil aeration may result from not cause NSF

Post by Ian James » Sat Aug 04, 2007 1:37 am

I thought I would submit this post in this topic as it is relevant on the subject of aeration.

In this instance caused by worms existing on once hardened and eroded earth caused by overstocking of cattle in India.

Today I was looking into efforts that have been made to combat land degradation in India.

I googled "Land degradation India"

I came upon a site which described the amazing success of two brothers in the Karnataka region of India 400 km north of Bangalore. The brothers have discovered by trial and error a unique way to arrest the decline of their environment which is evident through soil erosion, increasing water scarcity and lower rainfall.

The brothers are of a Tribe called the Bana-vasi or "Forest Dweller"

They grow peppers and cardamom among a forest of Areca.

They were successful in enlisting the community in a collective effort to dig trenches on the hillside two meters long by 1m wide and 75 cm deep.
They worked two days a week and soon had covered an area of 100 Ha with 1500 trenches approximately 7m apart.

The idea was to allow the rainfall to be stored on the hillside long enough for it to be absorbed by the soil and utilised by the plant life.

The brothers estimate that they have managed to store in the hillside earth, the equivalent of the total annual water usage by the village population, a staggering amount of 14000 Kilolitres of water.

They have witnessed raised water levels in the village wells which were in danger of becoming dry from a low of 1 m of water in the well they now have 2.3 m of water in the wells.

In nearby Onnikere three ancient lakes that had become dry have now refilled enough to support a range of birdlife.

Erosion with the monsoonal rains which each year ravaged the forest floors has been halted by the trenches as well; the trees are producing a much larger crop of Areca nuts and are visibly healthier.

De-silting of the trenches was a huge job earlier but lately the community have been delighted to notice that earthworms have colonised the trenches and have been consuming the leaf litter and silt in the trenches and have allowed aeration of the trenches and hillside so that the percolation effect has begun to increase exponently.

Now all work cleaning the trenches is unnecessary and has been ceased.

The brothers have now become very well known and other communities have begun to come to learn from the success and have begun to implement their own rainwater conservation measures.

You can find more information at

Is this not fascinating?

Petra D
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Location: Kensington Grove, Queensland, Australia

Post by Petra D » Sun Aug 05, 2007 6:38 pm


I have to admit I haven't read Peter's book ... yet. I have heavily compacted soil under a very fragile topsoil layer. I can't work the ground as any distrubance of vegetation leaves the soil open to wind erosion exposing the concrete hard clay which doens't even allow weeds to take hold.

So any idea, especially if it doesn't cost me a fortune is most welcome.

Ian James
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Post by Ian James » Sat Aug 11, 2007 9:58 pm

I will give you a few pointers just with my "farmer" hat on.

We farmers have battled against the wind and its ability to destroy our soil quality since day dot.

There are no specific rules as every situation is unique in some way.

As you have observed, disturbing the soil and leaving it bare are definite no, no's.

This is a problem best tackled with a plan of at least three years.

The best way to stop wind erosion is to....

1. Do not overgraze.

2. Do not burn.

3. Do not plant a crop which biodegrades completely or is prone to blowing away before the end of summer..... Unless....

You have planted the crop into good strong stubble (Oats, Wheat, Barley, and Canola.)

4. Never disturb the soil after the growing season, or before the next growing season has well and truly broken.

5. Do not leave the area out of crop for a prolonged number of years. (More than two or three)

6. If you are going to bring the area into crop after a number of years without cropping always start with a strong stubble crop (Oats, Wheat, and Barley)

7. Never burn this stubble after harvest. (It will blow)

8. To sow a crop, use a machine that leaves the area with tall ridges. (Not flat or smooth)

9. Use a machine with good trash clearance (It does not block up with bio residue from earlier crops)

10. Do not sow the area until you are sure the seeds will germinate quickly to cover the ground with protecting growth.

11. The compacted subsoil will benefit from a good crop growing above which will impregnate the soil with a root mass which will open up the compacted soil.

12. From what you write I sense that the area has few trees..... Plant some! Best in rows across the prevailing winds. They do an amazing job. Don't feel as if you have to undertake a huge tree planting project. A few trees will make a big difference. Just plant some and see and learn, then plant more next year.

13. If you work it, work it up and back, across the prevailing wind direction, not around and around

14. Make sure you leave tall ridges and that you work it deep, not just scratching the surface but ripping into the soil deep (15 cm)

15. If you have not got access to a machine that can do this and sow the crop, then you have to improvise (spread the seed on after)

16. Timing is everything.
If you do not work this ground, it will get worse.
If you work it at the wrong time, it will get a lot worse.
If you work it without seeding a crop, it will get a lot worse.
If you plough it, it will get worse.
Use fertiliser to promote strong growth. If the soil is wind eroded it will be much depleted. Feed the plants that grow and they will protect the soil while their roots repair it.

16. Get the advice of an Agronomist, normally available through your local agricultural supply shop.

I hope this helps in some way, no doubt others will also have many heplfull points to follow.

Good luck

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