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Freeze-thaw cycle....

Discussion in 'Organic Lawn Care' started by Organic a go go, Dec 15, 2008.

  1. Organic a go go

    Organic a go go LawnSite Member
    Messages: 211

    Not something we talk about much but the weather the last few days has got me wondering more about its benefits.

    In the last week we've gone from the ground being lightly frozen, to a deep thaw as recently as yesterday and back to a hard freeze today. Here is what I've seen. As it warmed the soil at least appeared to be more friable and crumbly in texture, almost fluffed up. Yesterday with temps in the low 40's I had lots of earthworm activity in the areas I've mulched with leaves and the compost pile. Not so much today with single digit temps but my point is this.
    Is there a way to measure the extent to which, if any, freeze/thaw helps to aerate soils and would there be any particular advantages for growing seasons that followed a winter with several freeze/thaw periods as opposed to a growing season that follows a fairly mild winter?

    Things you wonder about when the equipment is all put away.......
  2. treegal1

    treegal1 LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,911

    its called ground heaving or something like that.......

    the test I have seen used to really long metal stakes and a spring loaded weight that hangs on a stylus that went to make marks on a slowly turning wheel of paper, like a seismograph.

    oh well back to work, its turn and burn time and I am a month behind.......
  3. JDUtah

    JDUtah LawnSite Silver Member
    from UT
    Messages: 2,636

    Frost wedging?

    Regular soil density calculations before and after the winter season might give the "measurable numbers" you are looking for?

    Per Kiril...

    I made a quick calc tool, although I am not going with this biz/website so the link will go dead in a while... (I haven't had someone else check the calculator, but from my tests it seems to work)...

    Anyways, aerating before winter helps frost wedging to take place?... which increases soil porosity (decreases compaction?) Kiril might have to help on this one?
  4. JDUtah

    JDUtah LawnSite Silver Member
    from UT
    Messages: 2,636


    Recent hikes have demonstrated awesome examples of it. Ice crystals forming an inch+ high in the soil. They lift the soil particles and even pea size pebbles that rest on the top of the crystals. As it melts it looks like thousands of tiny grand canyons... This only happens on soil that is does not have compaction issues (never did it appear on the trail). My camera phone wasn't good enough to catch it. But here is a pic for fun... This was Thursday.

  5. treegal1

    treegal1 LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,911

    dang it that's why my beers blew up in the freezer
  6. JDUtah

    JDUtah LawnSite Silver Member
    from UT
    Messages: 2,636


    And awe, no comments about the photo? I posted just for you, to make you feel the pain. :laugh:

    I wish I lived in Florida at this moment...
  7. Marcos

    Marcos LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,720

    When I was a kid in the 60's and early 70's, ol' neighbor farmers adjacent to our family farm used to talk to my dad alot about "frost seeding" their pastures in conditions like Organic a go go described in his post.
    My dad picked up on it, with some success here and there.

    It is not unlike "dormant" seeding, except that you're relying upon the natural forces of nature to open up the earth for you, instead of mechanically slicing it in, aerating, or whatever.

    But just like dormant seeding, you run the same risks.

    If the ground during the winter's pretty consistently snow-covered, and the weather itself is cold and the winter weather doesn't have too many breaks, but has a fairly abrupt "finish" that concludes with the soil warming quickly, "frost" or "dormant" seeding is almost always successful.

    Conversely, if a winter's light on snow cover, and/or there are periods of extreme cold when the ground is NOT covered with snow, and/or there are fluctuations in temperature far above freezing for extended periods, you can usually figure on this type of thing not working out.

    You certainly want to make considerations for the potential of erosion from rain runoff when you frost seed.
    That's why many farmers will run around with their manure spreaders immediately after they sow fescue or pasture grasses, to spread composted manure as a water-stop.
    And yeah, if you go up into Amish country right now, you'll see 'em doing it over frozen ground.
  8. treegal1

    treegal1 LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,911

    is that ice or HELL, looks like HELL to me. that or a big vodka luge
  9. JDUtah

    JDUtah LawnSite Silver Member
    from UT
    Messages: 2,636

    Thanks for the Humor :)
  10. treegal1

    treegal1 LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,911

    so it was an ice luge.LOLOL

    on a more serious note, ice...... that can break apart some serious stone from what I understand, big chunks that carved out while mountain ranges and made the sea water have what it took to make fl some really long time ago. maybe even made a good part of the soil that is out there.

    I wonder if a wet rock freezes does it weather faster or break down completely( long time??).

    houses have a below frost line foundation that protects it against damage so there has to be a heap of data.......

    I also have to wonder what does it do to the water ways and how, maybe down a mountain and down say the Chattahoochee or Missouri river and end up in the gulf and or lake O or bottom of the ocean, can we get that back some how or is there no need..........

    wow,,,,,,,,,,, felling kind o small now..............

    hey I found this last day or so ago.................


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