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Clearing land without Glyphosate

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I have 30 acres on a mountain top that adjoins my buddy's 20 acres.  His includes about 4 acres (being his share) of abandoned farmland that mixed grasses.  The soil is all rock and clay.  Absolute crap.  Digging a foot requires dynamite   Granger, NY near Swain

One thing that concerns me is the use of Glyphosate.  I know they all say it's safe and breaks down into inert materials.  I also had for 36 years in my job title Environmental Engineer.  I can't tell you how many times I've heard "It's Safe".    And years later........maybe not

So whenever possible I try to follow "Living better without chemistry in my food chain".  And when I do use chemicals for anything, they are the safest for the purpose that work.  I always read the SDS as a matter of professional training.

Would a large tarp, (and I mean really large) be a good way to clear an experimental plot to see what we can grow?  I'm not talking acres but more a large garden plot.

I do have a 35 HP tractor and access to a drag as well as brush mower.

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It may take years of effort, but a chainsaw is your best friend. There's plenty to be learned on appropriate tactics here:


If you can knock down the invasive species, maybe spread a little seed for native grasses and whatnot, you will reap long term benefits. Plowing, tilling, glyphos, these things are short term solutions that fill immediate needs. It's good you're taking a more holistic approach. Remember, anything above browse height is wasted on a deer.

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Knehrke, thx

That does look to be a good resource.  

Recently the electric company had the tree service clear cut anything even remotely near the utility poles on my property.  I've done a lot of DEC trees in past but do now plan to do more for my Ruffle Grouse and such in these barren areas.  Daughter is to inherit property so my management of it will be part of legacy.

I'm already one freaking expert on land clearing as far as saplings and things getting rid of evasive species.  I rebuilt and slightly modified an antique Jari sickle bar cutter that I was also able to find all new cutter for.  It's my "Path of Mass Destruction"   Anything two inches or smaller disappears.   It's downright fun and makes me feel like I should put fuzzy dice on it.

I also have a commercial weed whacker with a carbide saw head that is dangerous but helpful.  Ever see Fargo?

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I used to have a Jari. Did not have good luck with it. Eventually cannibalized it for the wheels (to make a combo deer cart/ladder stand) and sold the rest to a guy with another Jari.

To clear ground w/o chemicals, if you can pasture sheep or goats, they will get it down to fairly bare ground. 

A thing I have used in our gardens instead of tarps, is the covers that are put on lumber for shipping. Usually can get for the asking at lumber yards. Put on two layers, black side up.

All that being said, I use roundup for a lot of weed control. 

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I love my forest clearing saw with a carbide head! Great for opening paths and clearing thick brushy stuff.

I recall growing up down near Bath, there were quite a few areas where DEC had clear-cut and planted Poplar. I know it's not the most sexy of trees, but from what I understand, grouse can't survive without stands of young poplar. Winter food and cover I guess. So, that's a thought? I've used poplar / pine combos for screening, but that's about it. 

Salt the earth? Sounds biblical...

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8 hours ago, Shoots100 said:

I have a friend that uses a salt solution to kill weeds.

2 to 3 pounds of crystalized salt per gallon of water.

Puts it in his tow behind sprayer and it kills the weeds in 24 hours.

Animals like the salt too.


Wont vinegar be better ? Salt may prevent future growth for a long time

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I use crop rotation, and a plow,  disk, corn planter, and cultivator to minimize glyphosate usage.  If you can turn the ground over with a plow, 5-6” deep in the late summer, then get the ground worked up with a disk and plant a wheat/white clover mix after September 1, it will outcompete most weeds.  

The deer will usually hit the wheat hard, from fall until early spring.  You can mow what’s left if it down the following May, then get a few more years from the white clover, with just a few mowings a year for maintenance.  

That clover usually lasts me 4-5 years, before grass begins to take over the plot.  The grass starts to outcompete the clover, as the nitrogen level in the ground gets built up, by the clover.  That’s when I plow it under again in the spring, and tap into that “free” nitrogen for some RR corn.  

The only place I use glyphosate, is directly on the the rows of that RR corn.  2.5 gallons of glyphosate lasts me about (3) years, spraying an average of (4) acres of RR corn one time (in early July) as I cultivate to remove the weeds between the rows.

 My 2-row cultivator matches my corn planter, and there are (2) sprayer nozzles,  lined up with the rows, on the loader arms.  That makes it easy to adjust to the height of the corn.  

For this rotation thru the years , you need about 4 times as many acres of clover as corn. The corn gives the deer cover and food during daylight hours throughout hunting season.  They utilize the clover at night, after the pressure is on. 

I like my venison as “organic” as possibly and I would rather not use any glyphosate, however that would greatly reduce corn yield and/or require way too much fuel.  


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also an environmental engineer here. Have not found a better alternative to gly. But typically the issue there is with humans, not what has gone into the earth. I do think its been around long enough that we would have known it has a negative impact by now... but I'm with you, i've heard that before.

I wear a tyvex, gloves and full face when I spray it out of my machine and not really any ppe at all if spraying by hand. 

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On 12/14/2022 at 11:36 PM, Shoots100 said:

I have a friend that uses a salt solution to kill weeds.

I used a salt, soap and vinegar (???) solution I found on the net on my weeds at home. It was funny, I sprayed it on and I've never seen plants react so fast. Glysophate can take a couple days at times to show it's working. This stuff, a half hour later the weeds were changing colors. Later in the day they all looked like they were dying. It was amazing, I was thrilled.

What was also amazing was that less than a week later they were all fine again, they looked as healthy as they did before I sprayed them lmao

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I'm not far from you, East of swain 10 minutes, and Glyphosate is safe if used/applied properly. Skin covered, and face ventilation.

A natural DIY Weed killer is mixing 1 gallon Vinegar with 1 cup Table salt and 1 TBS dawn dish soap(Helps vin/salt stick to plant) This will kill the roots but takes time.. May want to try an experiment with this first. 

Also, to get a good kill, you must spray the plant(whether its GLY or DIY mixture) when the plant is green and actively growing.. not in drought or cold conditions.. 

With That being said, A large Tarp is how many "Hobbyist No Till Garden folk" keep weeds from growing is by using a large tarp. By using a large Tarp you have to apply even weight across the entire tarp to keep the weight of the tarp down to the soil. Otherwise you will still get growth to pop your tarp up. This will kill the existing vegetation but isn't always a great practice, you'd probably have to amend your soils when you plan on planting. There are other No till methods you can try as well. As in timing your plantings directly before a rain, where you can seed into the area and then mow as low as possible a couple times to make sure cut vegetation isn't thick and bulky.. the rain would germinate your seed, and if your seed is on top of soil and below the dead cut vegetation.. you'll have a food plot. IT may not be an absolute perfect weed free plot but it will certainly draw wildlife depending on the seeds planted and if planted at the right time of year.  you can also keep an area mowed low, so the soil is exposed in and around the existing vegetations roots/stem system seed and then roll over with a lawn roller after a rain when ground is soft and with rain following..  

On top of that, Use of a chainsaw is #1 on the list, And by releasing Native hard and soft mast trees you can create wild organic food sources. Plant new orchards and maintain them, add pollinator clovers in and around your trees to keep the bees nearby. A chainsaw will also double in effect as you can add bedding cover, create travel corridors and so much more.. Especially if you and your neighbor work together.. The more the merrier when it comes to aiding wildlife..    

Edited by LET EM GROW
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