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Importance of increasing the plow depth gradually  RSS feed

 
Hari Haralampiev
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Hello Darren,

Thanks for taking the time to answer our quesitons. Can you please comment on the importance of doing the keyline plowing gradually, increasing the dept as the plants root system grows. Wouldn't it be the same if you do one deeper plowing every, let's say, 4 years, instead of repeating it year after year and increase the dept gradually?

Thanks, Hari.
 
Darren J Doherty
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Great question Hari,

The soil/plant economy takes a little bit of coaxing to get going after years of being boxed in an fed a bad diet. The improved relationship between plants and soils takes a few years to get going and while you can certainly speed things up by using compost, nutrients, various liquids and cocktail cover crops, timely irrigation and aeration combined with Holistic Management Planned Grazing.

Roots will go where the biology are and most of the biology grow really quick but not that quick. We generally find that even when you throw everything at it, we'll still 'only' get 4-6" of topsoil creation per year. What I mean by this is that we change dead sub-soil into being live soil.

As for delaying the use of aerators such as the Keyline plow a few years, I've done that many times and originally by default mainly because of cost. The big variance I would say Hari, is what are you doing on top of the soil as way you are managing on the soil surface will have a massive bearing on your soil conversion performance below the ground.

Going too deep too quick generally a problem because you get too much air space and the organisms just can't work that fast in our experience.

The way we look at it too, 2-3 years of soil creation work, which is best done with economic production, will give you the time you need in observation and in sorting out exactly what you want to do with the place. We see this as being a much better (and quite 'Fukuokan') process than doing a design, building dams and swales, planted trees and all other stuff before you actually got the fundamentals sorted and they are typically the human climate and the soil climate.

Cheers,

Darren
 
Hari Haralampiev
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Thank you Darren,

Excellent point - we should always remember that observation comes first, which I tend to forget in my enthusiasm. Also i like what you say that we should start with low cost solutions and when our concept is ready to do the design and involve more radical actions that will hopefully have much bigger and positive impact. Can I ask you to elaborate a little bit more on the first steps. What we should start with first and what would be the logical and working (from your experience) sequence of adding the additional elements. Probably in each case different things will make sense to start with as each situaiton is different for example the aproach on a field that was used for conventional agriculture and unmannaged pasture that is all in bushes and small trees will be different, I would exepct that on the first plot you will need first covercorps and compost tea for example and in the second scenario I would think that introducing animals and moving them through the land to clean some of the vegetation for you would make more sense. But can you give in some more detial your view on the subject - what are the most cost effective methods to start with, and maybe some examples from your practice? Thanks!

Hari
 
Darren J Doherty
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G'day,

Perhaps to start with I'll lead out with my adaptation of Dr. Christine Jones' 'Ingredients of Soil Formation'










 
Darren J Doherty
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So Hari I'll now go through your points now that I've got this first bit out.

HH – Can I ask you to elaborate a little bit more on the first steps. What we should start with first and what would be the logical and working (from your experience) sequence of adding the additional elements.

DJD – my first point always will be to follow the Regrarians Platform and that is summarised as follows:

1. CLIMATE – You, Enterprise, Risk, Weather
2. GEOGRAPHY – Landform, Components, Proximity
3. WATER – Storage, Harvesting, Reticulation
4. ACCESS – Roads, Tracks, Trails, Markets, Utilities, People
5. FORESTRY – Blocks, Shelter, Savannah, Orchards, Natural
6. BUILDINGS – Homes, Sheds, Portable, Yards
7. FENCING – Permanent, Electric, Cross, Living
8. SOILS – Planned Grazing, Minerals, Fertility, Crops
9. ECONOMY – Analysis, Strategy, Value Chain
10. ENERGY – Photosynthesis, Generation, Storage

A big part of this approach is addressed by the following statement,

'are you addressing the circumstances you finding today or as they will be when the water and mineral cycle is restored and energy flow is more efficient?'

This is not a trick question — it is a call to some critical understandings around cause and effect and what are you working on. So often the tendency is to react to the situations we find ourselves by doing major structural changes (such as earthworks) which have little or no bearing on the whole. So from that basis let's go to the next step...

In order of cost-benefit to the rapid restoration of the mineral/water cycle and energy across a site (assuming in pasture right now of poor quality and the broadest of contexts) I would highlight the following treatments:

1. Shepherding grazing/browsing livestock following a Holistic Management Grazing Plan
2. Holistic Management Planned Grazing with flexible electric fencing and water points
3. MasHumus/La Vaca de Mierda-based Biofertiser and/or Soil Food Web compost tea application
4. Cocktail Covercropping
5. Cocktail Covercropping with mineralisation
6. Microbial-selective compost application
7. Keyline Pattern Cultivation (ideally using a variant of the Keyline SuperPlow)

Obviously this is a somewhat subjective list and it invites further reflection against your context.

Thanks Hari and I hope this gets closer to answering your query.

Cheers,

Darren
 
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