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I just bought a John Deere 850 to do some food plot work, it came with a tiller and now, I would like to know what else I need to get started. The ground hasn't been worked before and I don't know if I should start with a bottom plow and how big of one the tractor can pull, or disc, rototill etc. This is all new to me and any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. I don't want to get a plow if it's going to be too hard on the tractor and not pull it. It's 4 wd with a loader and loaded and weighted Ag tires. The soil is a little rocky and has some clay and sand from what I can tell.
 

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Food Plot

First before you do anything use Round up or a similar spray and cover the area well. But this is the wrong time of year to do that. Wait for the fresh growth in the spring. If your tiller is good I would just used that to work the ground. If you have a lot of roots then use a sub soiler and breaking up the roots. Then hand pull them and after the area is clear then use your rotor tiller. Let set a few days in between tilling. Then spread your seed and lightly till to work in the ground and make good contact. Worked for me
 

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Food Plot side note

If your starting fresh once you get to buy your seed make sure you buy clover and alfalfa that is form your local seed store not a hardware/tractor store. The seed stores knows the area and what is the best producing seed Money spend up front is money saved as you will not have to replant. A little 12/12//12 fertilizer will help to get it established. BIg ting is get rid of the roots and existing grasses and weed first before you plant
 

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Welcome from northeastern Pennsylvania.
 

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I just went over and got some soil to send in for samples and there's some grass on top about 4 in high and when I put a shovel in a few areas, it went in nice and looked like decent dark colored soil, other areas, I couldn't get a shovel in because of some rock, will that hurt the tiller? They're not huge, probably a couple inches in diameter but a lot of them together. I had to dig in another area. I'm sure it's going to need a lot of lime. Most of the soil in my area is in the 5 range. Does anyone know much about the 850 and what all it can do? I bought the tractor, loader and tiller for 6300.00, it was WELL taken care of, the guy used it to do some mowing and the loader was in storage when I went to look at it. It has new ag tires and was serviced every year at a JD dealer. The tiller is a 550 and this thing is clean enough to eat off of. Did I get a decent deal? Oh, it has 1500 hrs, is that a lot? I've never owned anything bigger than my 42" cub cadet lawn tractor so, this should be interesting and most of all, fun! I just wanted it to do some plots and for a hobby. Is there anything trouble wise that I need to keep an eye out for that they're known for? Thanks everyone!!
 

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850

From my prospective you did good on the price/ Some rocks will not hurt. A old spring tooth drag may help bring them uo. I would still use a sub soiler will help break them apart and also dislodge them more. Then use your drag and work it for a while. Let the rain wash the top and you will see them better. YUO did not say but how big of a area 100 by 100 bigger or smaller?

I have sandy ground with some rocks and used my 318 before I I got the 4100. Still have the rotor tiller on the 318 modified to a 3 point. Still hydraulic. The 2 inch or so rocks do not see to bother it but will leave them laying on top for the most part.

Ground does not have to be perfect gust free of grass and weeds to allow the seed to get a good start.

You tractor should handle any 5 foot disk drag or rake. A 2 bottom older Ford Dearborn plow will work on it. start shallow and then go deeper. Take your time and will work out
 

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Discussion Starter #9
The soil looks good the first couple inches then it's full of nasy clay, is there a way to just work the top couple inches of good soil and not bring up the nasy clay? I planted a small 50x50 spot with an atv and used a small bottom plow, that soil is like molding clay but, where I haven't touched, the soil is actually very nice. It seems when I pulled up the bad soil, it was full of clay and when it didn't rain, it got hard like cement. The I want to plant a few acres and see how it goes. Just not sure how to keep that soil from being mixed in. Any suggestions? Thanks.
 

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The soil looks good the first couple inches then it's full of nasy clay, is there a way to just work the top couple inches of good soil and not bring up the nasy clay? I planted a small 50x50 spot with an atv and used a small bottom plow, that soil is like molding clay but, where I haven't touched, the soil is actually very nice. It seems when I pulled up the bad soil, it was full of clay and when it didn't rain, it got hard like cement. The I want to plant a few acres and see how it goes. Just not sure how to keep that soil from being mixed in. Any suggestions? Thanks.
Your tiller should have a depth setting. Set it to just churn up the top soil section without bringing up the clay or control it with the 3-point hitch control. All you really need is ~2"-3" of tilled top soil to plant seed.
 

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The soil looks good the first couple inches then it's full of nasy clay, is there a way to just work the top couple inches of good soil and not bring up the nasy clay? I planted a small 50x50 spot with an atv and used a small bottom plow, that soil is like molding clay but, where I haven't touched, the soil is actually very nice. It seems when I pulled up the bad soil, it was full of clay and when it didn't rain, it got hard like cement. The I want to plant a few acres and see how it goes. Just not sure how to keep that soil from being mixed in. Any suggestions? Thanks.
Then I would not in any way use the sub soiler leave the top soil there Work whit what you have
 

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Discussion Starter #12
OK, are the tillers made to do a few acres without much wear or hurting them? How fast or slow do you go with them?
 

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OK, are the tillers made to do a few acres without much wear or hurting them? How fast or slow do you go with them?
You are not going to hurt the tiller by using it. You could till 1000 acres with it if you wanted.

Rule of thumb is to start with the PTO at rated speed (engine RPM) and feel it from there.
 
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OK, Thank you. I guess I'm just use to and thinking of a tiller doing a garden and these tillers are totally different. I'm thinking of just tilling the top few inches which is nice soil, any idea if just a couple inches tilled will be OK to plant soybeans? I would love to get an acre or 2 of the forage beans in and see how they do.
 

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soybeans

OK, Thank you. I guess I'm just use to and thinking of a tiller doing a garden and these tillers are totally different. I'm thinking of just tilling the top few inches which is nice soil, any idea if just a couple inches tilled will be OK to plant soybeans? I would love to get an acre or 2 of the forage beans in and see how they do.
Should be fine But if I were your throw out some corn as well and then fertilize. Just make sure you ahve good soil contact with the seed. Either drag after sowing the seed or lightly rotor till once after seeded
 

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I'm not familiar with growing soybeans myself.

If you are going to plant some grazing grasses I have a couple suggestions. First off do not buy your seed from national chain type stores. You want seed that is devolped specifically for your (our) area and can usually find this at more local type feed stores.

Living in Penna we have a great source which is Penn State. They do extensive testing in their test plots to develop grass and other seeds that do well in our area. Also important to get a mix of annual and perennial grasses so you get a crop of the annual grass the first year to hold the soil then a permanent grass to take over from year two onward.

Good seed is expensive - be prepared for that.

And when planting a good mulch cover is important. And even more important for germination is water - lots and lots of water. Make sure your plans include a way to get water to your planting area for the first 2 weeks.
 

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If you're only going down a few inches forget the tiller. Get a shovel plow and do it the no till, no plow way like farmers do.
On a side note you should get some weights for the front of your tractor.
 

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If you're only going to till up the top 2-3 inches of good ground above sticky clay You won't get much of a soybean crop on that piece of ground. I'd plan on putting beans on ground you can till up at least 5-6 inches deep.

Rototillers don't like lots of organic matter on top of the ground they are tilling up. The suggestion about burning down grass/weeds with RoundUp is a good one. You could also plow it under with a 12" or 14" single bottom moldboard plow. Your 850 is only rated 17.77 drawbar HP. It might pull two 12" bottoms but would be happier with only one.
 

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Discussion Starter #19
Thanks for the help. I had trouble le with my login and took a while to get back on. I may have to scrap the bean idea unless I can find a way to get better soil at least 5 or 6 in deep. Any suggestions? I just bought a rock rake at a rural king in our area. I hope I got the right size, it's a 6' kink kutter for under 400.00. Is that a decent price and are they a decent rake? Now a brush hog and I should have pretty much everything I need. I had a 8' lime spreader and a spin type fertilizer spreader given to me. I'll post some pics of the tractor and spreader as soon as I figure out how to get them posted. The lime spreader is old and needed redone but, it came out decent and no more steel wheels.lol
 
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