- Author: Devii R. Rao
UCCE Watershed Advisor Royce Larsen put on a workshop in Creston (San Luis Obispo County) yesterday to demonstrate use of the Yeomans Plow, which was developed in Australia. Plow users have wide-ranging goals: accumulate water, build soil, increase forage production, control erosion, and sequester carbon, among other things.
The plow is used in a keyline pattern, meaning that you plow along the contour of the land. The idea is that the plow will make grooves in the soil, almost like mini ditches, where water will be held for a longer period of time before it runs off. When water is held in place for longer, it will be available to plants for longer, so the hope is that it will increase plant production and carbon sequestration, and reduce erosion.
Yeomans plow representatives (reps) said that you can build 2-3 inches of topsoil in 1 year using the plow. They said that in Vermont someone was able to build 8 inches of topsoil in 1 year. This would be a tall order in California's much drier Mediterranean climate.
Reps did warn that if you break up the soil you will get some undesirable plants. I would expect that breaking up soil also has the potential to increase erosion, especially if predicted el nino storms hit our area.
A 10-foot Yeomans plow with all the bells and whistles will cost around $18,000. The reps suggested that in rangeland you may want to use it once every 3-5 years or maybe you would use it one time only, depending on your situation. They suggest driving about 2.5 or 3 miles per hour while plowing which would let you cover about 20 acres in a day. Check out a video of the Yeomans plow in action by clicking on the image below.
During the demonstration 3 treatments were used: Yeomans plow only, Yeomans plow with pelletized compost, and Yeomans plow with flecha fescue seed. Royce Larsen will monitor these treatments and compare them to an unplowed area to see the effects of the Yeomans plow in California's Central Coast region.