• Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic

Organic fertilizer?  RSS feed

 
dan long
Posts: 272
4
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Go ahead and correct me if i'm saying anything factually incorrect here.

Organic practices are more of less "propped up" by non-organic practices, fertilizer specifically. Manure often comes from animals fed on GMO, pesticide laden corn, blood and bone meal comes fro the same animals and cotton seed meal comes from non-organic cotton.

On typing this, i recalled that seaweed meal is probably ok (i don't know how it is raised or harvested) and fish meal should be ok if the fish is wild caught and not farm raised.

I don't mean to say that organic foods are unclean but that modern organic practices are propped up by conventional practices and therefore, the current organic farming paradigm is just as unsustainable as conventional farming.

Cover crops can fix nitrogen but what can we do for phosphate and potassium? Compost is an obvious answer but i'm under the impression (agin, correct me if i'm full of it) that compost, on its own, is an insufficient fertilizer on a large scale. Besides that, where does one get composting materials that aren't produced non-organically?

I had only a few ideas. If one is producing only their own food and not selling any, then humanure makes highly potent fertilizer to recycle back into the field. If one lives near the ocean, then they can collect seaweed and seashells. If one hunts or fishes, they could garden Native American style and bury the guts and bones.

Again, correct me if any of this is inaccurate. Let me know if there are other sustainable fertilizers out there.
 
Lynsey Nico
Posts: 29
Location: Copenhagen
5
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
First off, GMO does not equal not organic.

Secondly, the more people eating and practicing organic, the more organic fertiliser there will be available.

Free organic fertilisers

For a wide nutrient profile:

-Kitchen compost (including eggshells, small bones), either in a thermal mass, or vermicompost. If you eat organic, this is organic.
-Seaweed - contains a bevy of micronutrients as well as NPK: I can harvest hundreds of kilos of it on the beach nearby every year if I want to: here in Denmark they clear it all anyways for biomethane production

For nitrogen

-Grass clippings contain 4% nitrogen, 1% phosphorus, and 2% potassium (NPK = 4-1-2).
-Human urine contains 12% nitrogen, and it’s sterile. Dilute before adding directly to plants.
-Legumes such as beans, clover, peanuts, and alfalfa fix inorganic nitrogen into the soil with mycorrhizal organisms and nodules on their root systems. Plant these crops every few years in rotation with others to renew the soil organically.

For phosphorus

-Human urine is also a great source of phosphorous and trace amounts of potassium.
-Ground up bones or shells add a slow-release phosphorous to the soil
-Had a baby recently? Bury the placenta in the garden.

For potassium

-Hardwood ashes
-Composted banana peels

For calcium

-Break down all of your eggshells, or seashells you have found, in a plastic bucket, using vinegar. This creates a soluble calcium solution you can add to a watering can.
-Diluted milk adds calcium and fats that feed microfauna to the soil

 
Ken Peavey
steward
Posts: 2524
Location: FL
89
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Organic inputs must be derived from organic sources. A certifying agency worth its salt would revoke certification for a farm using manure from cows fed with corn that was not also certified organic. There are ways around the NOP rules. There are certifying agencies that will allow non-certified-organic compost to be used when certified organic compost is not available or affordable if actions are taken to clean it up. I was told over the phone by a certifying agent that they allow compost to be used from any source as long as it was spread out to aerate for at least a week prior to planting.

Like that's going to solve anything.

There are gaps between the NOP rules and actual practices in the field. To close the gaps, testing of the crops is a requirement. Circumventing the testing is still possible if an area of the field is operated strictly and the crops grown on that section is submitted to the certifying agency for testing. Then there is the farm with some of the land certified organic and some operated without certification. What keeps that farmer from putting a Certified Organic sticker on produce grown on the icky field? Can a produce distributor add a sticker? How about the market? The watchful eyes of the certifying agency are not omnipresent. With a premium price attached to certified organic produce there is an incentive to cheat. The only way to have faith in your food is to get to know the farmer and determine if his ethics and passion suit your demands.

Don't take this as an accusation that all organic growers are crooks. Most of them follow the rules, and when they do, some decent food is the result. However, NOP rules for Certified Organic crops dictate only the inputs. The methods used do not necessarily promote stewardship of the earth. Certified Organic can still be grown in monoculture row crops with all the tilling, bare earth, dusting and spraying found with conventional chemical agriculture. It still relies on the grower supplementing the field fertility with inputs, controlling pests and disease with foliar sprays, and mechanical weeding. Except for the label and contents on the package, the methods can be identical on a large scale. For those following the rules, at least the chemicals have been taken out of the equation.

I've said before that organic growing is a stepping stone permaculture. With inputs in place, the methods are the next step. The methods replace the need for inputs. Enriching the soil with organic matter supports the life in the soil that enhances fertility. Soil microbes do the work of chelating nutrients-changing the molecules into a form the plants can use. Soil fungi hold the soil together, reducing runoff and erosion which drain away the nutrients. Soil carbon holds onto nutrients, keeping them available for the microbes and plants. Bring on the worms, the soil is loose and aerated, allowing the plants to grow impressive root systems that can reach deeper for the nutrients they need. Deep mulch retains soil moisture, blocks weeds, and shades the microbes from the damaging sun. Polyculture promotes insect biodiversity and retards the ability of the bad bugs to reproduce to destructive population levels. Everything works together. You won't need the constant irrigation. You won't need to feed the plants. You won't need to spend endless days weeding. You won't need to till. You won't need to spray for bugs. You won't need to fertilize.

Humanure
AKA night soil. This has been used for centuries. If you are not selling your crops, go for it. Get the book. Urine is an available option, read up on it before you use it.

Cover crops
Peas, beans, peanuts, clover, vetch will all add nitrogen. Peas are about the best dinner vegetable there is.

Nitrogen
Grass clippings are awesome. Add them to compost, mulch the growing areas. There is a thread about making liquid fertilizer from weeds. I've gone further with an article on Liquid Grass Clipping Fertilizer which I am employing with excellent results. This is a fast, cheap source of nitrogen, as well as some phosphorus and a bunch of potassium.

Compost
There is a whole forum dedicated to composting. Compost offers nutrients. You'll find leaf mold to be an important part of your methods for carbon, fungi, and minerals. I wrote an article on leaf mold starting from my posts on Permies.com.
 
dan long
Posts: 272
4
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
That was some very useful, practical information. Thanks, guys.
 
Peter Ellis
Posts: 1432
Location: Central New Jersey
40
  • Likes 4
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Dan Long, I do not think I agree with the premise that non-organic agriculture is propping up organic agriculture. I think of it more along the lines of organic agriculture not yet having reached the critical mass it needs to function entirely free of non-organic agriculture, which is not the same thing.

I think that "Big Ag" works to undermine organic agriculture, not prop it up. They have made efforts to subvert it, to co-opt it, to raise the bar for entry and the standards for staying in the organic club high enough that there cannot be new entrants into the club.

And despite all of their efforts to derail the movement, it keeps going, and it keeps going further. These days we have lots of people working systems that are far beyond "organic" standards.
 
Rebecca Norman
gardener
Posts: 1209
Location: Ladakh, Indian Himalayas at 10,500 feet, zone 5
120
food preservation greening the desert solar trees
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
dan long wrote:Cover crops can fix nitrogen but what can we do for phosphate and potassium? Compost is an obvious answer but i'm under the impression (agin, correct me if i'm full of it) that compost, on its own, is an insufficient fertilizer on a large scale.


There is a simple common sense logical question here. As long as we take the nutrients out of the land, eat and digest them, and dispose of them as sewage, it is a big task to replace those nutrients from some other source.

We do not have nuclear reactors inside of us. The elements (such as nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, calcium) that we eat are excreted by us as those same elements. To keep our land sustainable we have to replace the same elements back into the land. We can get help from nitrogen fixing bacteria but it's not usually sufficient, and anyway doesn't address the other elements.

Now, I guess I can't imagine humanure really being recycled on a large scale for the world's food production, but logically it seems essential if you just think about the nutrient cycle and the conservation of matter.
 
Michael Vormwald
Posts: 154
Location: Central New York - Finger Lakes - Zone 5
2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I have taken/adopted a particular approach. My compost/vermicompost is made from kitchen waste, leaves and grass clippings ... and this year I will introduce some wood chips all sourced from my own property. I think manures can be somewhat valuable, but I don't have livestock animals and can't be sure that 'outside' manures aren't from animals that may have been fed GMO grains and/or have been medicated in some way. Now this is probably a bit fussy but there's another factor. Even if the cows were grass fed, the manure would be the waste after the cow has extracted it's nutrition....so I figure, why not use the grass to feed the soil! Then there are green manures I use like buckwheat and I usually plant a winter rye cover crop allowing a fair amount of bio-mass to get tilled in the following season. Finally, this year I'll fertilize plants using some 'organic' fertilizer that being the Epsoma Garden-tone http://www.espoma.com/p_consumer/pdf/products/tones/Esp_Garden.pdf Admittedly, the source ingredients may not be 'pure' organic sources.
I think we need to understand that 'certified organic' isn't what it was meant to be... some factory farm chicken houses are 'certified organic' and I don't think so!
The methods and materials I use may not be purely organic, however, all we can do the very best we can to be as natural and perhaps even beyond 'organic' as possible.
 
Michael Vormwald
Posts: 154
Location: Central New York - Finger Lakes - Zone 5
2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Sludge is being used in some cases, but I 'm against it as far too many evil chemical things get flushed these days!

Rebecca Norman wrote:
dan long wrote:Cover crops can fix nitrogen but what can we do for phosphate and potassium? Compost is an obvious answer but i'm under the impression (agin, correct me if i'm full of it) that compost, on its own, is an insufficient fertilizer on a large scale.


There is a simple common sense logical question here. As long as we take the nutrients out of the land, eat and digest them, and dispose of them as sewage, it is a big task to replace those nutrients from some other source.

We do not have nuclear reactors inside of us. The elements (such as nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, calcium) that we eat are excreted by us as those same elements. To keep our land sustainable we have to replace the same elements back into the land. We can get help from nitrogen fixing bacteria but it's not usually sufficient, and anyway doesn't address the other elements.

Now, I guess I can't imagine humanure really being recycled on a large scale for the world's food production, but logically it seems essential if you just think about the nutrient cycle and the conservation of matter.
 
Time is the best teacher, but unfortunately, it kills all of its students - Robin Williams. tiny ad:
Thread Boost feature
https://permies.com/wiki/61482/Thread-Boost-feature
  • Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic
Boost this thread!