Methods for amending clay soil for general cultivation and regenerative agriculture

How much top soil is left for conventional farming in the farm belt? Isn’t traditional farming shooting ourselves in the foot over the long term? For short term profits.

Maybe we can expect a second green revolution based on gmo crops or some other as yet unforeseen phenomenon but it makes sense to me to not rely on that.

Fisherman , if left unchecked, historically exploit a natural resource until there’s nothing left. Farmers are doing that with top soil and unreplenishable aquifer water.


I’d be attempting to use the native clay soil that I dig up in the area rather than purchasing truckloads of top soil from elsewhere, if that’s the concern you’re bringing up. The only thing being brought in externally for this project would be composted manure, everything else is sourced locally from the forest on the property and the clay it grows on. The idea is to create a food forest of sorts from all the native biomass available around me. The felled trees were not cut specifically for this purpose, but to clear the area for the homestead to be plopped. Instead of letting them decompose in piles above ground, I thought it’d be a good idea to bury what logs I can and let them decompose under the ground, amending the disturbed clay soil over time.

The main issue is that before my parents plopped the house on the property it was a healthy forest with wonderful top soil, but a mound had to be created to plop the house on top of, destroying a lot of the forest aged topsoil and bringing up all the red clay and rocks that originally lie underneath. While it’s certainly sad that a small ecosystem was destroyed, I’m attempting to make an effort to restore a smaller ecosystem that can thrive for years without much human intervention. I do not plan to industrially farm in the area, I mentioned fruit trees and vineyards as something that may be able to grow on the slope, but a sustainable food forest with native plants that replenish the soil is the overall route I’d like to take.

Although, I wholeheartedly agree with your point that large agriculture and in the same sense fishing, depletes the local resource, causing successive crops/yields/quality to diminish and somewhat destroy whatever diverse ecosystem was there before. I wouldn’t be making a profit off any of this, my parents wish is to live fully off-grid and I’d like to start something sustainable for them, so they can rely on the land they bought.


The greenhouse looks nice. Gothic arch is a great design.

It looks like soil erosion is an immediate concern. It only gets worse when ignored.


I was commenting tangentially and not aiming that at your pursuit.

I never thought about trucks of top soil , that could be a problem but I’m guessing a lot of that is manufactured from humus? @AgTonik do you know is bulk top soil stripped off the earth or manufactured?

What I was referring to is the tilling paradigm that requires chemical fertilizers and pest management to be practical. Tilling slowly causes top soil erosion due to wind shear across the ground surface. Slow and steady. I thought I had seen some more alarming charts / statistics but what I’ve found just now is we have lost 1/3 of the top soil in the farm belt since the green revolution (repurposing nitrogen from ww2)

What you are doing, working to amend clay soil , is admirable and what all the farmers might be doing in a century!

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That slope doesn’t appear to great to handle some lifted terracing. Even if you go with trees/vines - you’ll still have that terracing come into play, if only to manage how water is getting to your plants.

Using that hugulkultur method, you can layer out terracing as well (I mean you’re digging trenches, which is a leveling/grading method). So you could plan for what you want to be there. Try to remember that trees as awesome! And @Future knows quite a bit about food forests if you want to ask questions. Row trees are different than a food forest though. Just keep it in mind.

You could totally throw down on terrace grading and hugulkultur with that forested area you have. I planted into mine the very first year - those plants were stupid happy. I’m adding 4 more this year. Yes they are a pain in the ass… but people keep dumping perfectly good wood in the ally behind my house, so I’ll keep using it to do all kinds of stuff - including burning when its the good stuff. I had some issues with skunks/woodchucks, so keep that in mind. The skunks stopped their shit when I covered it over with compost/sod. The woodchucks just have to be relocated (or I suppose you could eat them…)

How steep is your slope, it looks like 10-15 degrees in the photo, but maybe its a perception thing. If so - consider the terracing - they don’t have to be really steep (especially if your slope isn’t that far). you could make 4-5ft terraces with a 6-12 inch drop. And you could get that “drop” just by how you want to place the trenches and the mounds on top. Looks like you probably have enough wood - then its just deciding where you are getting your compost and dumping/moving it.

If you are doing it all by hand with a shovel, sure very hard - years of work if you are also working a job, etc. But if you are using a bobcat well, that’s just a few days worth of moving things around and getting them ready.

Think about it. :smiley:


Its 100% both options. You can look into the different places near you. Where I’m from and where I live now both had different options for where the soil would come from. One place was very much a “took it from place A to place B” and you get what you get. Hehehe.

The place I ended up deciding to go with was one that takes lawn debris, food debris, farm debris and mixes it in with construction removal. So its a combination of composted materials and materials that were a waste product from construction sites (soil removal activities).

When I was in KC - there was a place that combined river dredge with compost as well.

Lots of options - in Colorado, there was mostly construction soil removal combined with cow and chicken manure. So many options out there - I bet there’s more than one where you are.

Sometimes I wonder why I am so interested in soil… but then I remember that I GROW THINGS. <3


Welp, @Cassin called me out in DM, so I thought I would clarify . . .

Don’t get me wrong from one sassy comment about regenerative farming and not valuing your time. I’ve done JADAM and regenerative Ag for years and often play devil’s advocate. I run Linux for the tools for OSINT business, but that is an edge case for most people. I’ve done organic craft soil grows and managed 150 flower lights and consulted much larger as a salty cash cropping farmer.

I do care about reducing agrochemical fertilizer and water usage to grow more efficiently when Bayer-Monsanto wants to push their unhealthy solutions on farmers. For most mainstream and row crop farmers it is about striking a balance between input cost and doing the right thing. And at the end of the day, I genuinely care about soil and people’s health.