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Abe Connally
Posts: 1502
Location: Chihuahua Desert
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http://craftsmanship.net/drought-fighters/

Sustainability on Steroids. Paul Kaiser farms 10 acres, harvests 3, and generates $100,000 per acre per year. His methods are simple, build a living, thriving Food Web with soil fertility as his goal.
 
Dan Boone
gardener
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Location: Central Oklahoma (zone 7a)
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That article contains the simplest and clearest one-paragraph explanation I've seen on why spraying pests is a bad idea, even if your spray of choice is mild, "organic", or comprised of trusted household ingredients:

Kaiser was in Costa Rica pursuing his graduate studies when a colleague, who was studying two citrus orchards, noticed something unusual. The first orchard, planted on the edge of a forest that was dense with trees, bushes and wild vines, had more than 90 percent fewer pests than the second orchard, which was in an open plain almost a mile away.

Kaiser was stunned. “You can’t get 90 percent reduction with chemical sprays,” he says. “And sprays kill everything—the pests and the beneficials.” (Beneficials are insects that don’t eat crops but instead help them grow. Bees, for example, help pollinate; others, such as ladybugs and praying mantises, eat the insects that eat the crops.) Every farmer wants beneficials; after spraying, however, the pests always come back faster and stronger than beneficials do. (Biologists explain that this is because the pests breed faster and more prolifically, and have been toughened by centuries of adversity). More sprays follow, and the death spiral widens. Paradoxically, this process of destruction occurs whether the sprays are synthetic or organic.

In Costa Rica, Kaiser and his colleagues realized that the pest-free orchard escaped this fate for a simple reason: the beneficials were hanging out in the foliage bordering the orchard, which gave these insects an easy commute to manage the crops.
 
Abe Connally
Posts: 1502
Location: Chihuahua Desert
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Particularly relevant:

for each one percent gain in SOM (Soil Organic Matter) levels, the top 12 inches on an acre of farmland can hold an additional 16,500 gallons of water.


This is an important thing that often gets overlooked in dryland farming.
 
Miles Flansburg
steward
Posts: 3902
Location: Zones 2-4 Wyoming and 4-5 Colorado
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elle sagenev
Posts: 1275
Location: Zone 5 Wyoming
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Very interesting article.

I noticed a lot of concern in it for nitrogen and compost and such. Couldn't he alleviate the need for added nitrogen in the form of compost and fertilizer if he simply planted nitrogen fixing plants?
 
mike mclellan
Posts: 94
Location: Helena, MT zone 4
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After reading the lengthy article about Kaiser's farm, I found the concern for excessive pollution from nitrogen and/or phosphorous leaching into runoff "interesting". The ponds on site did not exhibit any increased or excessive loads of N or P. The article stated no one seemed to know why. I wonder if they checked his areas where he had planted some 2000 trees/shrubs. Growing strips of trees along streams has been demonstrated to filter out excessive pollutants/ or capture nutrients. Once captured by the woody vegetation, those elements aren't going anywhere soon. I'm not saying this is for certain, but it struck me that this could well explain where, if anywhere, the high levels of N and P are dealt with by nature, in the trees!
 
Dan Keeney
Posts: 2
Location: Yucca Mesa (Yucca Valley), California
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Miles Flansburg wrote:http://www.singingfrogsfarm.com/Home.html

Is this the same folks.


That's them
 
John Stannum
Posts: 14
Location: NSW Australia
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Soil biology captures the nutrients. He had very high levels of bacteria and a very large diversity of bacteria. Those off the scale numbers need off the scale nutrients. The nutrients get released when nematodes eat the bacteria but then it's captured by new bacteria or by plants. The super high levels of bacteria come from no till, living roots in the ground and leaving roots in the ground on harvest, plus added organic matter.
In my opinion. LOL 8^))
 
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