Seeding grass in previous corn field

SprigOfTheLivingDead

Lovin' The Homestead
Joined
Jan 18, 2019
Messages
55
Reaction score
51
Points
77
Part (a few acres) of the land my wife and I bought has been getting used for corn growing by a farmer. We've communicated to him that we're ending that arrangement and will be using that land for our homestead. That makes me feel a little bad, but oh well. Anyways, I will be planting some trees in those sections but more importantly I want to restore it to a tallgrass prairie, which is the purpose of my coming here

The farmer ended the season last year by tilling the corn under, which of course means the land is all clumpy :/. He says he'll come flatten it out this spring but what I'm wondering is if I should cast my grass seed now (in the snow) and let them germinate and sprout and then get flattened or wait until he flattens it. Looking for any advice from previous experience

The pros and cons (my perspective):

Sow now
Pros:
  1. Easy to do for a one man operation
  2. Potential to germinate as spring hits with less of a chance of blowing away (I don't have the cash for straw blankets for a couple of acres)
  3. Don't have to worry about watering
Cons:
  1. Waste of money if it doesn't work :/
  2. Seeds get put under many inches of dirt and will fail to germinate

Sow after flattening

Pro:
  1. Sprouted grasses wont get run over by field flattening equipment (I have no idea what the process is)
Cons:
  1. Wind may just blow the seeds away
  2. Watering to germinate may be a challenge
  3. ?

So, that's it. Looking for thoughts on if I should cast my tall grass and wildflower seeds now or wait until after flattening. I have no clue if the flattening would hurt the sprouted seeds beyond repair, or put them so far under dirt that they would fail to see sunlight.

Thoughts?
 

milkmansdaughter

Super Self-Sufficient
Joined
Jul 31, 2017
Messages
1,308
Reaction score
1,523
Points
217
Location
Alabama
I would wait. The farmer may come out plow and disc the land, and pull out a lot of those clumps. That would give you a really nice area to grow your seed. Meanwhile i would watch the craigslist freestuff postings in your area and see if you can pick up any free mulch hay or straw to use to hold your seed (and water) for after you plant.
 

SprigOfTheLivingDead

Lovin' The Homestead
Joined
Jan 18, 2019
Messages
55
Reaction score
51
Points
77
He disced it in the fall. Do they disc again in the spring?

This area is many many hundreds of feet from my house, so watering it myself just ain't gonna happen :/
 

Chic Rustler

Super Self-Sufficient
Joined
May 11, 2017
Messages
1,703
Reaction score
1,646
Points
217
I would wait until its flattened out as well.

Its gonna be tough to get the biology going again after gmo corn. All the herbicides, chemical fertilizers, and pesticides really do a number on microbes.
Compost, compost tea, worm castings, manures, organic matter like free coffee grounds from coffee shops grass clippings, leaves, etc and mulch will help. Follow that with controlled grazing (maybe let cattle on or mow when its a foot tall for a short period) and you should develope a deep root system that will bring the soil back to life.

Legumes like clover are a great idea as well and you can mix that in with your grass seed
 

SprigOfTheLivingDead

Lovin' The Homestead
Joined
Jan 18, 2019
Messages
55
Reaction score
51
Points
77
Yeah, I bet there's close to zero bacterial activity going on in there :(. Looking forward to some nice healthy big bluestem growing out there :)
 

baymule

Sustainability Master
Joined
Nov 13, 2010
Messages
6,071
Reaction score
4,991
Points
363
Location
East Texas
You can kickstart the soil activity with raw milk. The ratio is 3 gallons raw milk to 17 gallons of water. Spray the field. I don't know how many gallons to the acre.

Do you have or can you borrow a 4 wheeler? You can buy a drag harrow fairly cheap to harrow the field after the farmer is done, spread seed, then harrow again.

https://www.sportsmansguide.com/product/index/guide-gear-atv-drag-harrow-4039w-x-45039l?a=366867&pm2d=CSE-SPG-15-PLA&utm_medium=PLA&utm_source=Google&utm_campaign=CI&gclid=EAIaIQobChMIvubp-Lr14AIVyh-tBh0MrgPDEAQYEiABEgI9xPD_BwE


https://www.neatfarms.com/4--x-4--Multi-Action-Drag-Chain-Harrow---Overall-90--Long---3-8--Dia?gclid=EAIaIQobChMI1uPwqbv14AIVYxh9Ch26RgBdEAQYASABEgLusPD_BwE
 

Lazy Gardener

Super Self-Sufficient
Joined
May 14, 2017
Messages
2,397
Reaction score
2,158
Points
232
Location
Central Maine, Zone 4B
I really have no idea. But, I'd be tempted to wait until after the farmer does his bit of leveling in the spring. One thing I'd do is contact your county Agricultural Extension office. Have them put you in touch with the person who can best advise you regarding your goal. Can the farmer pull a manure spreader through that pasture? When you get ready to seed the area, you could drag an old bed spring to help cover the seed a bit. If you do your seeding before some rains are predicted, it should get going ok, even without spreading hay or straw over it.

However, I'd ask him what the "leveling" entails. If it involves heavy soil compaction, I'd pass on that! Talk to your county ag agent!!!! You might also get some advice re: an appropriate seed mix. You might even consider sowing a year's worth of green manure crops. It all depends on what your time line is.
 
Top