Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Land Capability Classes

The subject of land capability classes came up in the comment section.  What are they?  Basically, soil scientists have divided all types of land into VIII or eight major classes, all based on slope but two.  Flat land can be very productive or be so wet has to be called swamp land.

This is how I taught them as recent as 10 years ago, though the system has been modified over the years.  This PDF file of the Ohio Land and Soils Conservation Judging Scorecard will show you what I am talking about.  Here is another simple scorecard that can help you evaluate your land.

The new farm has about every land class on it, from flat, fertile, well drained bottom soils to soil that is so hilly steep and erodible, a mountain goat would be needed to cross it.  That is where the deer hang out.  We farm classes I-IV which are basically broken by slope.  We can pasture class VI land and the rest is not too useable for a farmer except to look at it every so often.

Class V is flat, wet swamp ground and we do have some of that.  We could barely walk across it in this drought.  Class VII and VII is that mountain goat ground.

The class IV and VI type soils on this farm are signed up into CRP, the Conservation Reserve Program.  That is a good way to get a little payment on hard to farm ground so we plan to leave those soils in that program.  These soil have heavy grass, some Scotch Pines and wild cedars on it and we like the look of it.

The first thing I did was soil sample the tillable ground and sent it off with my crop history and planning sheets to Midwest Labs.  I will discuss the results with lab agronomist John Menghini and my network of soil fertility friends.  I suspect it needs every crop nutrient in a better balance like other soils I have sampled here.

The second thing is to repair the tile lines and build a road to the back of the farm.  The recreational land is not accessible unless you have a drought like we are currently in.  That will be expensive, the last road I put in was around $13 per lineal foot with excavation and stone.

I found 3 different tile breaks so far so repairing them will really help the drainage.  You wouldn't believe how much better our other fields work just by doing this and farming them to the best of my ability.

We are planning a pond and a basement for a log cabin in the future.  The land does not offer itself that well for a pond.  The cheapest way to build a pond is dam up a narrow point where the water flows from a large area.  This is more a smaller funnel running into a wide open creek area so the dam would have to be much wider.  That gets expensive.  I don't even know if we can do that yet but money fixes everything you know.  Some are just cost prohibitive.

It was all in corn last year so I plan to plant it to soybeans, plant wheat on the erodible ground and plant a cover crop on the bottom ground.  That is subject to change of course as winter comes and leaves.

I am sure it will need lime so I really want to get that done first.

Knowing your land capability is a very important concept to understand.

Ed

3 comments:

  1. Did anybody ever made the analogy between a new farm and adopting a new child? Because it sure sounds very similar the way you talk about it. You should have the land baptized, like they do for new ships or new ventures.

    You should also get a beaver to build that dam for you! I don't know what animal would help building the new road, but don't forget to put a PVC pipe under it with a wire running all along, with a roll outside of the same length, so you can insert electric or phone cable at any time. Maybe a water pipe too, with exit points to the fields along the way, so they can be irrigated by the new pond. Why, that log cabin may have optical fiber before your own home gets it! ;)

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  2. LOL, I never thought of it like that. Creation did give us a nice crust to live off where there isn't water!

    Yes, we can have the land blessed by the priest.

    Funny thing you bring up the optical fiber cable because it's right in the driveway of it!

    Ed

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