• Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic

getting the biology we want into our soil  RSS feed

 
gardener
Posts: 1872
Location: Grand Valley of Colorado's Western Slope
96
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Thank you Redhawk for this thread!  And I too would prebuy a paper copy of the book mentioned.  I would certainly back a kickstarter!   This is a very exciting topic to me.

I just attended a soil health workshop where the key note speaker was Allen Williams PhD, very like Gabe Brown in his work and successes, and very down to earth.  He presented some very interesting numbers abuot soil microbiology.  Just off the top of my head, and just in case any one needs convincing:  brix (nutrient density measure) increases with soil organism diversity, with increased brix, daily gain of grass fattening animals increases, as does milk production and milk solids in the milk produced on that pasture.  Allen kept calling this "free acres" because fewer acres were required to support one cow...

Soil micro-organism diversity increases with diversity of plants rooted in that soil.  And here is something I particularly loved:  to increase the diversity of those plants, don't do the same thing all the time.  Change the variables of your grazing pattern (he follows "adaptive" grazing methods).  And if a person is not interested in grazing, and had a field or pasture they were trying to increase the diversity of, then to mow at different growth stages, different intervals would be a way to increase diversity.

There is a lot more, and I could find links if interest is there, but I don't want to hijack the thread. 

Thanks again for sharing your work and your wisdom. 



 
pollinator
Posts: 871
Location: Longbranch, WA
54
chicken goat rabbit solar tiny house wofati
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

I am simply not very familiar with a lot of the tractor tools and am trying to get my head around what I would need to approach a fresh field.


I have 2.5 acres that has had various farming methods used on it over 100 years. I have the luxury of mowing it with a scythe or riding lawn mower as time and interest indicate to see what happens.  It varies from fast draining sand to deep clay and vegetation as varied as quack grass through wild flax and strawberries to vetch and clover.
From June to September is a dry period so if left unmowed it will mature seed and can be mowed in September to reseed. If mowed with the scythe and left in a windrow into the winter it smothers much of what is growing under it but new seeds will sprout. If I move it in Jan/Feb. it favors  the vetch and alfalfa. I use much of what I mow to mulch my berry and tree crops. But to make a planting bed I leave it mulched until I am ready to prepare it Then move the mulch to the path and hoe the surface to stop the seedlings. I see that a flame weeder is used by many market gardeners. Mowing and mulching with new growth from the field keeps feeding the soil organisms during the summer.
Taiping is also a useful tool. I use old carpeting.
 
gardener
Posts: 4005
Location: Vilonia, Arkansas - Zone 7B/8A stoney, sandy loam soil pH 6.5
387
chicken dog forest garden hugelkultur hunting purity
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
hau Stephen,  There is a special seed drill, called a No-Till Seed Drill that has been designed to go through the mulch layer for proper seed depth.  Keep in mind that you can till but that should be adding more organic material, not just prepping the seed bed.
When you do till in organic material you want to follow that with an application of microorganisms including the fungi. For a farmer it becomes important to know how much fungi to put into the microorganism ratio, I usually keep it simple and shoot for a 50/50 bacteria to fungi, the other organisms will almost automatically end up at around 10% of the total compost tea you make to spray on the soil. The good thing is that once you just use a crimp roller and NTSD (no-till seed drill) you are already keeping your soil biology in place and the cover mulch keeps the organisms multiplying.

I'm on here as much as possible so if you have questions, please don't hesitate to ask them.

Redhawk
 
Bryant RedHawk
gardener
Posts: 4005
Location: Vilonia, Arkansas - Zone 7B/8A stoney, sandy loam soil pH 6.5
387
chicken dog forest garden hugelkultur hunting purity
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Ok, It seems I need to explain a bit about the book, first off, I have a Literary Agent, so she will be finding the publisher.

Hans, sounds to me like you have a great system going there, I might add a compost tea to the trees, berries and garden plots to increase the fungi, particularly the mycorrhizae.


Thekla, I think those links would be great for reference.


Currently the book is mostly on hold because of the dissertation taking president, right now I am about 3 weeks out from presentation so busy, busy, busy.

I am very glad (and happy) so many have found this information helpful, it makes my days to see the responses.

Redhawk
 
Posts: 179
20
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I think that I understand what I am looking at no-till wise. One last question though. Since I don't have a tractor at my regular disposal I am planning to rent one to break up the sod in a new field this year, tilling in the mixed pasture currently growing there and then tilling in some additional compost for good measure. In subsequent years, to save myself from having to rent a tractor again for planting, do you think that taking down the cover crop with a flail mower and then using a mantis to rip 4" wide planting rows would be a good hand tool compromise?
 
Bryant RedHawk
gardener
Posts: 4005
Location: Vilonia, Arkansas - Zone 7B/8A stoney, sandy loam soil pH 6.5
387
chicken dog forest garden hugelkultur hunting purity
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Good Questions Stephen.
When you rent the tractor (they aren't cheep to rent, I know.) try to have everything you want to till under already in place, that way you won't need to make multiple passes (which is what causes compaction and total soil life death).
From that point, you want to try and do as little disturbance as possible (they are now making a push along no-till seeder from what I understand).
Flail mowers are good and usually easier for most folks to find, crimp rollers can be purchased or home built and both will work quite well.

I have one friend that uses his 4 wheeler to do all his "heavy work", There are companies that make all sorts of pull behind equipment for these vehicles including a type of sub soiler.

Mulches work very well so don't be afraid to chop it and let it lay there, when you get your soil biology better you will see decomposition start rather rapidly.
On Buzzard's Roost, when we mow down a tall grass area it is gone, rotting completely into the soil by the end of that winter.

Redhawk
 
Thekla McDaniels
gardener
Posts: 1872
Location: Grand Valley of Colorado's Western Slope
96
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Here is the best link I could find to get a look at Dr Allen Williams' work

https://joyce-farms.com/pages/dr-allen-williams
 
Posts: 814
Location: Graham, Washington [Zone 7b, 47.041 Latitude] 41inches average annual rainfall, cool summer drought
17
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Bryant RedHawk wrote:hau Stephen,  There is a special seed drill, called a No-Till Seed Drill that has been designed to go through the mulch layer for proper seed depth.  Keep in mind that you can till but that should be adding more organic material, not just prepping the seed bed.
When you do till in organic material you want to follow that with an application of microorganisms including the fungi. For a farmer it becomes important to know how much fungi to put into the microorganism ratio, I usually keep it simple and shoot for a 50/50 bacteria to fungi, the other organisms will almost automatically end up at around 10% of the total compost tea you make to spray on the soil. The good thing is that once you just use a crimp roller and NTSD (no-till seed drill) you are already keeping your soil biology in place and the cover mulch keeps the organisms multiplying.

I'm on here as much as possible so if you have questions, please don't hesitate to ask them.

Redhawk


Is there a hand-push scale No-Till Seed Drill available? I've invested over two hours trying to track one down and the smallest I've found is an ATV/Riding Lawnmower model for over 7,000 USD.
 
Bryant RedHawk
gardener
Posts: 4005
Location: Vilonia, Arkansas - Zone 7B/8A stoney, sandy loam soil pH 6.5
387
chicken dog forest garden hugelkultur hunting purity
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
hoss tools  and  Earthway

Both of these will do the job we want done without having to turn the soil first.

Redhawk
 
Kyrt Ryder
Posts: 814
Location: Graham, Washington [Zone 7b, 47.041 Latitude] 41inches average annual rainfall, cool summer drought
17
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Bryant RedHawk wrote:hoss tools  and  Earthway

Both of these will do the job we want done without having to turn the soil first.

Redhawk


Do those work through an intact stand of existing crop/covercrop? I always thought that sort of tool was intended for use in somewhat prepared ground.
 
Bryant RedHawk
gardener
Posts: 4005
Location: Vilonia, Arkansas - Zone 7B/8A stoney, sandy loam soil pH 6.5
387
chicken dog forest garden hugelkultur hunting purity
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Normally I do the chop and drop cut prior to seeding but last year I tried my new hoss tools seeder in standing cover crop.
It was fairly hard to push through but it did the work. I did my chop and drop in that plot about three days after the seeding (had to wait for the body to stop complaining to be able to handle the sythe).

Our only real alternative is to use a 4 wheeler with a pull behind seed drill and my plots are not really large enough to justify doing that.
If I ever do get a 4 wheeler, I might change up our garden plot setup so that I can make full use of the wheeler, but that might never come to pass.

Redhawk
 
No, tomorrow we rule the world! With this tiny ad:
Binge on 17 Seasons of Permaculture Design Monkeys!
http://permaculture-design-course.com
  • Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic
Boost this thread!