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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. 



 
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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
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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
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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
 
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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
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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
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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
 
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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
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hoss tools  and  Earthway

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

Redhawk
 
Kyrt Ryder
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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
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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
 
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Bryant RedHawk wrote:
This thing will drill a hole as deep as you can push the main pipe down into the soil very quickly. Once you have the hole drilled turn on the 1/4 inch valve to suck your compost tea down into the hole and out into the surrounding soil, leave this valve on as you withdraw the pipe, shutting it off just before you remove the water injector from the hole. Move 5 feet and repeat, do this until you have the area you are treating completely covered.


Dr. Redhawk.  After drilling the hole using the injector, would it be useful to take a bamboo stick (or similar) and put it inside the resulting hole?  Would this help with the growing of the biology and similar to a decayed root?  I live in an area where people want you  to come a cut down their bamboo.
 
Bryant RedHawk
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The only reason to use any type of marker (like the bamboo you mention) would be to show you where you have already been.
If you were doing a fairly large space it would be helpful since usually you want to do the injections in a grid pattern so you get complete coverage.

Redhawk
 
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Good Morning Bryant,
In this article you state:

The main reason we want to do this is so that we don't have to concern ourselves with rotating what we plant in any particular spot. 



If I read this correctly you are saying, and you imply it in other areas that crop rotation for the home garden is a thing of the past. But, because there is always a but, crop rotation is advocated because of the Great Irish Potato Famine ad failure of the people not using crop rotation.

Kindest regards
Susan

 
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Susan Hutson wrote:you are saying, and you imply it in other areas that crop rotation for the home garden is a thing of the past. But, because there is always a but, crop rotation is advocated because of the Great Irish Potato Famine ad failure of the people not using crop rotation.


I don't think crop rotation had much (if anything) to do with the Irish Potato Famine.  It was the population's nutritional dependence on a monocrop that was the problem (and, of course, the introduction of Phytophthora infestans from the Americas).
 
Susan Hutson
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Tim thank you  for answering me

I have always believed 1) Yes it was an over reliance on potatoes as a crop and
                                  2) that a disease, now I know which microorganism Phytophthora infestans, causing crop failure led to the origins of crop rotation.

In my head it was recognition that mono cropping lead to this organism being able to get a hold and decimate the potatoes. This was recognised at the time, and from that time crop rotation was encouraged.

After your post I now find out that crop rotation goes wayyy back. Teach me to research before I post. 😳

Kindest regards and many thanks
Susan

 
 
pollinator
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In addition, all the potatoes were taken as slips from earlier crops, which themselves were ultimately the product of slips made from a very small number of potatoes; they were all clones with no real genetic diversity. Once phytophthora infestans adapted to kill one potato, it was primed to wipe them all out.

And yes, crop rotation does predate the Irish potato famine by centuries.

As to what Dr. Redhawk is saying, if you have an established system with the right ratio of bacterial to fungal life in the soil for what you're growing, the interconnected mycelia and root zones transport whatever is necessary to wherever it needs to go. The rest of Dr. Redhawk's soil threads discuss it and plant communication and symbiosis with healthy soil communities in detail.

-CK
 
Bryant RedHawk
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Good answer Tim.

Susan, the reason for crop rotation is to let a field recover nutrients and or to reduce insect infestation.
If we have good soil biology growing in our field then the nutrients will be there as well as the fungi and  bacteria that support the crop that was grown there.
This leaves us with insect infestation as the prime reason to rotate crops but if we really do have our soil properly growing the fungi, bacteria and all the other microorganisms then the soil should be able to help the plants fight off the insects.
That would leave us free to grow the same crop for a few seasons before we would want to shift things around for certain.
This is actually a new concept, that I am testing in my garden beds and I have three farmers testing in their home gardens as well as their crop fields.
The data is showing that, just as nature doesn't move succession along until the soil is ready, we can do the same with crop plants both for home food and for crop foods, that could be big in the future as crop lands continue to be sold off for development.

Just because it can be done, doesn't mean everyone can do this. Until you know your soil has all the right biology and the right amounts of those organisms, it will be necessary to practice crop rotation as usual.

Redhawk
 
Susan Hutson
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Thanks to yáll I am now crystal clear on this issue )
Kindest regards
Susan
 
Bryant RedHawk
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hau Susan, glad we all were able to help you.

Always remember, there are no silly questions and if you don't know something, ask, odds are you will get several solidly based answers and we all hope that those help you gain the knowledge you needed.

Redhawk
 
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I made a very long post about my experience with daikon. It did not load correctly so I am going to rewrite a summary. This is a response to the part about brassicas having greater affinity for bacteria.

Due to experiences growing daikon for several years, I believe they prefer fungal dominated soils. My reason is because the minowase cultivar which I have mostly grown has done the best when fungal dominated compost (all of my compost is fungal dominated) and mychorizae fungi were added. The daikon reached rediculous sizes, fully double their typical size. Mustard, cabbages, and kale did not do as well. My hypothesis is that daikon growing in Gifu prefecture (the south of which was called Mino Province in the Warring States period) was naturally selected to grow in that area for probably the last thousand years. Gifu Prefecture is heavily forested, and very wet, mountainous terrain. Its soils are naturally dominated by woody debris which favor fungal dominence. I think, therefore, that Minowase daikon are suited to fungal dominated soils.
 
Bryant RedHawk
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hau Stephen, My recommendations are usually given as an overall view point, if I am taking on a client then I will be walking the land and taking samples to find out the state of their soil in each field, that is how I can move into specific amendments.

I now have enough data, gathered from several farms over the last 30 years, to be able to quickly improve dirt into very bioactive soil in only one growing season.

The chisel plow is a great tool that penetrates deep and lifts from the plow tip (underground lifting) this way the soil is fractured but the horizons are left in place, which leaves most of the hyphae intact and it doesn't expose the  bacteria to UV rays of the sun.
There are several names that these go by; Yeoman's plow  and Subsoiler are the two main alternate names you will find used.

If the farm is using the green manure (cover crop) method to add humus to the field, then a single turning pass is going to be necessary.
To get the best effects, a mulch layer, spread right behind the turning pass will prevent the microbe death that could occur from the turning pass.

Usually what you find on "traditional, chemical use farms" is compaction at two levels, the first is found around the 12" deep mark and the second is somewhere between 18 and 30 inches below the surface.
IF the compaction is at 30 inches, a larger tractor (100 + hp.) would be needed to make a pull at that depth with even just one "tine".

There are two commercial types of seed drill, the standard one has shorter drill tubes and is meant for "fluffy seed beds", the No-Till- seed drill has fairly thick drill tubes and is heavier overall, the tube ends are sharper also so they will cut through any flat material.
The no-till drill can also be used for the "commercial, till it to death method" but the till drill can not survive the conditions of the No-Till soil bed.
Then there is also the fly over seeding method that can work for the No-Till farm, this works for wheat, rice, barley, oats and sorghum planting only.



 
Bryant RedHawk
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Ryan Hobbs wrote:I made a very long post about my experience with daikon. It did not load correctly so I am going to rewrite a summary. This is a response to the part about brassicas having greater affinity for bacteria.

Due to experiences growing daikon for several years, I believe they prefer fungal dominated soils. My reason is because the minowase cultivar which I have mostly grown has done the best when fungal dominated compost (all of my compost is fungal dominated) and mychorizae fungi were added. The daikon reached rediculous sizes, fully double their typical size. Mustard, cabbages, and kale did not do as well. My hypothesis is that daikon growing in Gifu prefecture (the south of which was called Mino Province in the Warring States period) was naturally selected to grow in that area for probably the last thousand years. Gifu Prefecture is heavily forested, and very wet, mountainous terrain. Its soils are naturally dominated by woody debris which favor fungal dominence. I think, therefore, that Minowase daikon are suited to fungal dominated soils.



Since I started this thread, there have been some very important results come through on vegetable growing particularly and their relationship with fungi.
Due to these discoveries I have to change the 0 fungi for some vegetables. It is now evident that we should never make any addition (compost tea) that isn't at least 40% bacteria, 40% fungi (particularly mycorrhizae) with the remaining 20% for all the other microorganisms.
It has been known for a while now that plants, through their exudates, will regulate the organism numbers to best suit them, so with that in mind, we can make compost tea additions without worrying about counts as much as was previously thought.

The previous consensus was that bacterial plants didn't need fungi for good quality of their food production, we now know that was wrong. Mycorrhizae need to be in the rhizosphere of all plants.
Mycorrhizae have been shown to perform vital functions for water and nutrient up take as well as transmittal of the chemical signals created by the plant exudates.

Good job of reporting your observations Ryan, spot on!  It has also been shown that having good fungi presence can reduce the effects of root worms that can destroy some of the brassica crops.
 
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Bryant RedHawk wrote:

There are two commercial types of seed drill, the standard one has shorter drill tubes and is meant for "fluffy seed beds", the No-Till- seed drill has fairly thick drill tubes and is heavier overall, the tube ends are sharper also so they will cut through any flat material.





Does anyone have a good technique for sowing seed into existing pasture with no-till drill? I've tried all the standard techniques such as ovegrazing, continual close mowing etc, but the existing pasture is always too thick and  dominates the new seedlings. I want more diversity, but do not want to cultivate. Even strip-tillage doesn't seem to work adequately in my situation.
 
Bryant RedHawk
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If the pasture is already thick in growth, try broad leaf plants for over seeding in a alley way type planting.
You may have to "scalp cut" ( cut the current vegetation to 1/2" height then run the seed drill immediately so the seeds can germinate before the vegetation can overshadow the new seedlings.
This type of over-seeding works for Bermuda pastures usually.
If you are having too much trouble getting the new sprouts to survive you may have to wait for just prior to green out to get things going your way.
 
Ben Waimata
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Thanks. A few years back I tried the scalp-cut approach (3 times about 4-5 days apart) and sowed wheat, but didn't work well enough to harvest grain. It was good enough fora fodder crop though. I tried again with millet last summer, the millet did grow but was seriously suppressed by competition. There must be a way to suit this farm, I will continue to experiment.

What does  "you may have to wait for just prior to green out" mean sorry?
 
Ryan Hobbs
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Ben Waimata wrote:Thanks. A few years back I tried the scalp-cut approach (3 times about 4-5 days apart) and sowed wheat, but didn't work well enough to harvest grain. It was good enough fora fodder crop though. I tried again with millet last summer, the millet did grow but was seriously suppressed by competition. There must be a way to suit this farm, I will continue to experiment.

What does  "you may have to wait for just prior to green out" mean sorry?



Prairies depend on fire to regenerate and maintain diversity. Mowing mimicks grazing. Some seeds can lay dormant for decades until a fire comes through, and then they suddenly germinate. Ponderosa pine is one of several trees this is true for. Without forest fires, they become scarce.
 
Bryant RedHawk
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hau Ben, green out is early spring, trees buds are swelling but not open, grasses are just waking up from their winter sleep.
 
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Dr. Redhawk, once of these soil threads mentioned that you use meat & bones for compost but you do not use not roadkill. Why not? Is there a biological reason or is it something else? Like, who really wants to mess with roadkill?
 
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I have a question. I have been working on this soil for in some places 30 years. Lots of manure and compost. Testing 8% organic matter.  But my potash and phosphorous are way out of balance. My phosphorous is 556ppm with potassium 438ppm

The potassium is close to target range but the phosphorous is very high. Even with the potassium being in the target range plants show signs of deficiency such as burning of leaf edges and poor, very slow growth of root crops. Some other things are very low, like iron and manganese, with sulfur and calcium being about 75% of where they should be.

I am adding iron and manganese sulphates which will also increase the sulfur and adding kelp meal for some minor trace minerals I need like cobalt and boron.

But I'm wondering if I should also add a little soluble potash to help balance out the high phosphorous?

I do add a lot of fungal food to the compost, sawdust, wood chips, cardboard, shredded paper, along with manure and plant waste. I always thought I had enough but now thinking perhaps not enough mycorrhizal are present in the soil. So I am beginning to inoculate my seed to see if that will help.

I don't have any way to check the compost to see what kind of microbes are present. I do try to keep them turned as much as I can and they do heat up to about 130.

As a market gardener I'm trying to make the best soil I possibly can, for both yields and nutrition.
 
Bryant RedHawk
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From your post I'm going to recommend you make and use mushroom slurries and compost some of your vegetable waste Bokashi style then aerate that prior to using it to make a tea spray to use around your plants or over the whole growing area if you can make enough for that type of application.
The problem is more microorganism than mineral, it sounds to me like once you get the microbiome built up your mineral worries will disappear because the microorganisms will be making more minerals available to the plants.

Redhawk
 
Mary Hysong
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Thank you Redhawk, that was sort of my thinking also, that I need more of the right kind of biology. wild 'shrooms are hard to come by here in the desert so I will check and see what sorts I can find at the grocery store for starters and see what happens.

Is there are thread here on Bokashi? I'm not very familiar with it
 
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Location: Vilonia, Arkansas - Zone 7B/8A stoney, sandy loam soil pH 6.5
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try this thread for Bokashi composting

and this one too  this one gives some information on several  methods that work well together

Redhawk
 
Die Fledermaus does not fear such a tiny ad:
DIY solar dehydrator - have you built one?
https://permies.com/t/90672/DIY-solar-dehydrator-built
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