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Hi, my names james and im a university student.I'm currently doing my dissertation and i need a reference for the explenation of what rotivating soil does. I know the general idea behind rotivating soil but i have no way to prove that it's not just something i've made up.In case any one is wondering I need the information as for part of my dissertation i have to go into detail as to how to establish reed beds in an area.Many thanks
Rotavation is basically just a mechanical way of turning the soil-like digging only with a machine- nothing more-a rotavotor is really just a plough for garden use
It is that simple
A rotovator will not dig deeply and if the ground is hard or overgrown it will struggle. They are not as easy to use as theory may suggest. Have you tried one yourself. You can hire them by the day.
Another disadvantage is that if there are nasty perrenial weeds such as couch grass, horsetail, bindweed, ground elder to name but 4 ( there are lots more), the rotovator will chop them up with every small piece starting a new weed plant. You make things much worse. The best way to get rid of such weeds may be to hand dig and carefully remove every trace as you go.
In my experience, unless the soil is already in pretty good knick they are more trouble than they are worth. I am afraid there is no substitute for spade/fork/elbow grease. The main advantage might be where you have already hand dug the plot and then use the rotovator to break the clods down to a nice friable tilth.( sorry about the technical terms!!)
However having said that let's see if others have had better experience.
Good luck with your studies, don't hesitate to ask more questions.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rotary_tiller Rotavator is a brand name like hoover or xerox. There is a particular varient mainly used for rice paddys. You should know you can't cite wikipedia as a primary source however at the bottom of the page are sources you can read and cite.
Funny thing is this type of machine was designed in part for weeding but the domestic variation left that part out, being the 60's it was thought chemical herbicides were the future, then promptly over did the use of them. The original 1920's patents will have expired so it might be possible to produce a version that weeds
A search engine , good spelling , you can find anything. Even grow light surveys.
One other benefit of rotavation is to improve soil 'conditioning'. Heavy clay soils are rich in nutrients, but the fine particles stick together (a complex process involving chemical ions that I don't fully understand), which makes the soil claggy and saturated in winter (plant roots hate this) and it dries out like concrete in summer, with cracks that allow moisture to run through into the sub-soil so the upper leyer dries out. And walking on this type of soil compacts it much more readily than sandy or loamy soil. So plants are more likely to drown in winter and die of thirst in summer, despite all those nutrients. And planting is harder work, and in summer the garden hoe just skims off the surface.
Digging and turning the soil so it becomes 'friable' - i.e. small particles - helps aerate the soil. If organic matter such as manure or garden compost, or lime or gypsum are added at this stage, they have special properties that reduce the ionic effect that attract the fine soil particles to one another, so that the soil behaves a lot better in retaining moisture without going 'claggy'.
Digging heavy clay soil is hard work at any time of the year, but a rotavator makes light work of it. And if you chuck your conditioning material onto the soil while rotavating, it becomes permanently improved.
Thanks Blackest, that really helped. I tried google but i must have been spelling it wrong or using the wrong combination of words before.
Turning over heavy clay is next to impossible with a rotovator. Swamp in winter, concrete in summer, not to put a finer point on it. Even when soil is inbetween these conditions (blink and you'll miss it) all the other disadvantages apply too. Sorry but this is from bitter experience. Money wasted, allotment left undug, unhappy bunny.
My little Mantis did the job for me, Woodgreen. I did lift clods with a spade to start with and let them dry out, but after that the rotovator did the rest. And it was very sticky clay. It was a newbuild house and the builders had compacted it with their machinery. I couldn't do anything with it until after I had improved it with with 60 bags of manure, 30 bags of sharp sand and 10 bags of gypsum plaster in a 60 square metre plot, all worked in with the Mantis. I was lucky with the weather, three weeks without rain in spring, but I couldn't have done it with a spade - just didn't have the time or energy.
Hi Gold1locks I think u may be my guiding light! Hope so. Reading your comments on soil you virtually described my garden that is driving me mad. Had turf laid few years back and being a novice I didn't interfere by saying to the Gardner does it need topsoil before laying the turf! The soil if u can call it that is flinty as we're coastal. Needless to say I am paying for it now, as u described to blacknest,almost the same except not clay ( I'm waffling ) my question is as you seem to know soil. Where do I start do I rotivate it pull out weeds, topsoil then seed/turf? Is best time now or spring?
It was solid with cracks in, in the summer unlevel, bumpy and horrible. Lots of weed too. HELP please.
As one fairy to another () this is an old thread - I don't think Gold1locks posts here any more but this will bump the post up for further help.
If the grass is in a really bad state you might need to start again,but if you level it out by putting more topspoil/compost in the holes and reseeding once you've done that it will help the appearance and the surface. You could do that now if the weather's favourable. If you use a weed and feed product in spring it will help with the weeds. There are plenty on the market so just pick one that suits your budget and conditions. If the ground's compacted you get cracks in dry spells of weather so aerating will help with drainage - you can do that by sticking a fork in all over the surface to a depth of 4/6" and brushing coarse sand or grit into the holes. Regular mowing through the season - without scalping - will encourage good grass growth.
Even poor lawns will benefit from a bit of this kind of tlc.
Hi James, I rotovate the soil on my allotment every year as it is very heavy clay. It is basically (as others before have said) breaking down the soil structure from clods into a much finer more "friable" consistency. However, this is only done after thoroughly weeding the area first (i use a large garden fork) which opens the surface of the soil to enable the rotovator to get right in there and do it's job and importantly also allows for aeration.
The rotovation of the tines smashes the large lumps into smaller lumps which allows me to incorporate sharp sand, grit and bulky organic matter ('BOM' for short). That's it in a nutshell!
I am on the same page as Verdun. I believe that unless absolutely unavoidable rotavating shouldn't be considered. It destroys the natural structure, worm tunnels, fungal networks, etc. in the soil. I too just fork or dig out weeds the good old fashioned way. Using mulch helps keep the weeds down anyway. I spread homemade compost on the soil surface and I've noticed that it quickly gets incorporated into the soil by nature. There is no real need to dig the organic matter in in my opinion.