The mouldboard

Mouldboard forrow
Mouldboard forrow

Planting a new orchard requires the soil to be properly tilled. Deep ploughing is important and can be done in different ways. In soils with hard subsoil, I did so just in the lines where the trees were to be planted. When I faced clay in the subsoil, I tilled the full field with a subsoiler. For the next planting season I have prepared the soil with a classic mouldboard plough.

The mouldboard works miracles if you use it properly and if the subsoil has no significant handicap such as much clay or a petrocalcic horizon. Timing is crucial for it to work well. I have prepared a field just at the right time, when the soil was both humid and loose. After the usual Mediterranean summer drought, first autumn rains came. They were not enough in September, so I have to wait until a October. It was a 17 mm rainfall by October, 17th and 5 mm by October, 26th. The land was ready for the plough by October, 29th.

The outcome can be seen in the picture. The mouldboard worked 30 cm deep and the straw was buried easily. The soil was fully desegregated and well structured. It became ready to get the most out of the upcoming rains and store enough water for the almond trees to be planted in January. Dry farming is a matter of keeping water savings as well as choosing austere plants. The moulboard has achieved a good piggy bank for the infant trees.

The mouldboard opperation costs are rather low. A single mouldboard plough does not demand too much power. I use a 65 HP tractor (David Brown 995 CASE). It takes me 5 hours time and 20 liters of oil per hectare.


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