Clearing Planted pines for pasture & farm land

emyers(8 SC)September 25, 2008

I'm interested in everyones opinions on proceeding with clearing 5 acres of planted pines that is a small portion of a tract of planted pines we own adjacent to my house.

I don't have an exact plan in mind for how the property will be laid out, but I'm not going to be able to start visualizing things until I get it cleared.... pond, small livestock areas, orchard, possible commercial garden area etc.

Currently about two acres of the five acres was a loading deck (area where loggers stage their cutting/loadin crews etc) that was used about 5 years ago. I want to incorporate that area into the 5 acres for a total of 7 acres.

Area that was a loading deck is know grown up with all kinds of stuff and was covered with all the ripped off limbs etc from the thinning that was done.

Area that is currently planted pines has very little undergrowth and is covered in pinestraw.

What I'm trying to figure out is what I can do after I cut the trees, have someone come in and remove the stumps and any existing undergrowth etc, to keep the land from growing up into a bunch of growth that I'll need to deal with later.

Thinking I need to probably plant SOMETHING to cover the soil but I don't know what. Truthfully, it could be years before the plan comes into play, and certainly, it will be over time that the plan comes together.

Just want to give myself the most options.

If I plant something, what could I plant that would continue to come back, that I could mow down and till into the soil maybe on an annual basis (and maybe just let stay there) and regrow, that could later be tilled in to improve the land. However the same item not be problematic for me so that I have to use herbicides etc to reclaim the land for farm land or pasture. Basically a good cover crop that could last for years, but allow the land to be reclaimed easily).

Also, thought about goats to help in the effort of keeping things under control (if I had them, don't know if I'd even need to plant the land in anything... they'd probably keep it clean correct?) or maybe a combination of goats and the cover crops mentioned above. Problem for me is that if I were to get goats, I'd need to fence them into that particular portion of the property (which I'm not interested in CURRENTLY.

This is kind of a synopsis of where I am right now. If anyone is interested I'll be glad to provide additional info.

Thanks.

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slchsu

I'm afraid I don't have any advice for clearing trees, but I do have a somewhat related issue.

I've got about 3 acres in an urban area on which I'd like to start an organic growing system. My most pressing concern right now is the field, currently covered mostly with grass. The soil has been tested to be clean and healthy, but the ground is full of rocks and chunks of concrete, some very large. In some areas, it's hard to dig more than a foot or two without hitting some sizeable rocks. The middle section of the field also floods during rains.

My questions:

1) What steps do I need to take to prepare the field for planting, given all the rocks? Digging them all up by hand seems like a Herculean task. I can't afford to buy a tractor, but may be able to rent one. If I can rent one, what kind of equipment should I be looking to rent?

2) How can I increase the soil height or improve the soil drainage to prevent flooding? Dig runoff ditches maybe? The only suggestion I've heard so far is to truck in about 300 cubic meters of soil from outside sources, but this seems antithetical to an organic system.

Any help or suggestions would be much appreciated.

And if anyone here knows what zone Shanghai, China, is, that would be helpful.

    Bookmark   September 26, 2008 at 12:18AM
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msmitoagain

emyers - somebody with a bull dozer can clean up the stumps and area in a day or two. Stuff will start to grow whether you want it to or not. To keep it from growing back up you will need to mow it with a bush hog or run a box blade over it to keep it cleaned up.

slchsu - all I can tell you is the same thing. a bulldozer or backhoe anc clean up those rocks. Maybe even a tractor with a box blade, but it could be you need to start with a tractor and then get the other for the larger rocks and concrete.

Also, the flooding issue depends on the land too. Ditches probably would help, but it still depends on amt. of rain, drainage, etc.

    Bookmark   September 26, 2008 at 10:11AM
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emyers(8 SC)

msmitoagain-
So you don't think cover crops will do much of anything to keep the weed population (including bahai grass) at bay until I can finalize the plan?

    Bookmark   September 26, 2008 at 7:41PM
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Beeone(4 N. Wyo.)

Cover crops will certainly help reduce weeds if they grow quickly and create a dense cover to out-compete the weeds. They can also help hold perennial weeds back. Still, you need to control the growth, whether the cover crop or weeds, and some kind of livestock to graze it can work well. Think renting some pasture to a neighbor with sheep.

    Bookmark   September 27, 2008 at 1:15AM
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emyers(8 SC)

Livestock sounds interesting to me first take. And, certainly I think I'll end up with some. Only problem with that (I think) is that I'll immediately need to fence the area. Not something I'm prepared to do right this minute. Really trying to get the garden part up and running first.

No one around here raises sheep.

Could you give me the reason you suggested sheep vs say a couple cows, or goats or any other "variety" of animal? What makes sheep so appealing to you? Juat not familiar with them.

    Bookmark   September 27, 2008 at 10:00AM
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