Water Spade? (hydraulic soil decompaction?)

Nish

Well-Known Member
#1
Suppose I fitted my skid sprayer (up to 10 gallons per minute, 500 psi) with an air-spade-like attachment passed through an upside-down 5 gallon bucket with a hole in the top. I bet I could bore some holes. With the right sort of head maybe I could bore 4" diameter holes 18" deep all around a tree, backfilling these with compost. Mud everywhere, but I'd cover the whole mess with wood chips. Is something like this going to work? If it did, it seems like it'd be preferable to an auger, and maybe more effective at soil decompaction than a root feeder tool.
 
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JeffGu

Well-Known Member
#2
How will you keep the holes from just collapsing back in on themselves and filling up with mud? Without a way to extract the mud as you go down, I'm guessing you won't get more than about 3 inches down. But, give it a try and shoot some video!
 

Nish

Well-Known Member
#4
Without a way to extract the mud as you go down, I'm guessing you won't get more than about 3 inches down.
I'm thinking the boring unit will be a steel pipe of roughly the diameter of the hole I want to bore out. The pipe fills the hole as it plunges.
 

Nish

Well-Known Member
#5
I think water has a higher chance of stripping roots.
But probably less destructive than an auger. The water pressure is adjustable; I'm thinking there'd be a range within which the pressure is high enough to move soil but not so high as to severely damage structural roots. Is there a reason why excavation by water would be more destructive to roots than excavation by supersonic air?
 

JD3000

Well-Known Member
#6
I have a Gro Gun. It is sold as a pneumatic device used for deep core aerating/vertical mulching and is said to "fracture" the soil underground. A hopper on the gun can then inject dry amendments into said fractures.

So in addition to the air fitting it has another fitting on the other handle that a fert tank/sprayer system can be hooked up and fert or humates can then be injected into the same holes and fractures. The holes it creates dont collapse though they are a bit glazed.

Its a bit heavy to use and has a sturdy foot plate on it for a reason. You have to jump on the damn thing and hit it with air at the exact moment your weight comes down on the foot plate in order to get the thing into compacted soil. Doesnt make any mess however. Just dont hit a downspot line or irrigation line and hit it with air. I blew crap out of a gutter 50' into the air once...

Not fun to do all day but if your just trying to punch a bunch of holes through a relatively thin compacted layer it works pretty well.
 

Nish

Well-Known Member
#8
I'm curious about this notion of "fracturing" soil with highly pressurized air or water. Fracking for tree health. Subsurface plowing. It'd be about breaking up compacted subsurface soil without displacing and replacing soil (as with vertical composting or air excavation).
 
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JD3000

Well-Known Member
#9
Yeah the results of the benefits of the subterranean fracturing is debatable and one study I read said it was ineffective. However, that study really only focused on measuring bulk density of the soil rather than any improvements in drainage, aeration, permeability.

Now, if you want to improve soil conditions over a large volume of soil, coring does very little. Take all the holes you create, calculate volume and add them up. It's not much. Trenching improves a much higher volume but the benefits are fairly localized to the trenches.

Bed expansion or creation will eventually improve soil conditions over a much larger area and volume but is slower to act. Perhaps incorporating trenching, stirring, or coring techniques in conjunction with a big old bed is the best course of action.
 

Nish

Well-Known Member
#17
No it was just compressed air with the Gro Gun and another system using compressed nitrogen
I'm thinking that a 10-gallon-per-minute 500-psi jet of water blown all around and sideways underground might stir things up a bit more than a shot of compressed air from a nitrogen tank.
 

JD3000

Well-Known Member
#18
Here's another.

To be honest I dont know. I would think that if said fractures are filled in with something like OM or an aggregate, a more permanent improvement in soil structure may be created. Decomposed OM and humates may help soil aggregates to be formed. Otherwise, would any channels created, be it by way of hydraulic or pneumatic means, be long lasting? I would guess not but I'm not positive.
 

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JD3000

Well-Known Member
#19
Here's another.

To be honest I dont know. I would think that if said fractures are filled in with something like OM or an aggregate, a more permanent improvement in soil structure may be created. Decomposed OM and humates may help soil aggregates to be formed. Otherwise, would any channels created, be it by way of hydraulic or pneumatic means, be long lasting? I would guess not but I'm not positive.
The air definitely gets things moving sideways underground. You can hit it with liquid and/or solids and repeat until that area wont take any more.
 

Nish

Well-Known Member
#20
I suppose it'd be like tilling one's hardened clay parking spot without tilling in any OM. Still highly susceptible to re-compaction (especially when wet) but maybe, if you don't drive on it, it'll stay loose enough for new root growth to start occupying the erupted soil. And I'd want to top dress the entire muddy mess with a thick layer of wood chips, which will also help against re-compaction.
 
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