new videos
hot off the press!  
    more about rocket
mass heaters here.

more videos from
the PDC here.
  • Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic

repairing soil - my post barley experiment  RSS feed

 
r ranson
master steward
Posts: 6011
Location: Left Coast Canada
747
books chicken tiny house
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
This is about repairing the soil I damaged and getting back on track with my no-till experiment.  Since most of the house has gone gluten free and we have a new local brewery, I don't plan to grow barley anymore.  But there are lots of other things we can grow no-till.


A couple of years back, I attempted to grow barley using the Fukuoka method of natural farming.  Only a bad thing happened, the "organic" straw I got was heavy with herbicides.  Several years later and very few weeds or even moss will grow where my would-be barley patch was.



You can see one side of the line has moss and the other has none.  This year there is a bit more than hawkweed, but a lot of the plants in places are deformed.  It's not great to begin with, but the straw made it worse.

I'm still determined to keep trying no-till until it works. 


The first step is to transform this dirt into soil.  The soil tested acidic so we applied a small amount of lime and lightly tilled the soil so that we could seed a mixed cover crop. 



I'm feeling bad about starting a no-till with a rototiller.  I did try it without first.  I'm also reading a lot of permaculture design books right now and they all seem to start with earthworks.  Earthworks disturb the soil.  But it's just done once. 

The second step will be to seed and scythe.  With luck, something will grow and come fall, I can spread a fall cover crop mix on the area and scythe down whatever grew this spring.  If I'm lucky, the soil will be somewhat repaired by this time next year and I can grow something edible on it (I'm hoping chickpeas and/or oats) but it might take another year. But at least my chicken is fertilising while she's digging up my seed.


 
Bryant RedHawk
garden master
Posts: 2712
Location: Vilonia, Arkansas - Zone 7B/8A stoney, sandy loam soil pH 6.5
222
chicken dog forest garden hugelkultur hunting toxin-ectomy
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
hau R Ranson, I tried Mr. Fukuoka's method twice, neither time did I have success, probably something on my end, but I have also heard from others that their trials didn't really work.

It is my belief that just as in successful no-till, you have to have a decent base of cover crop already in place for his methods to work their best.

For you plot, to remove any contamination caused by the tainted straw, you might want to consider myco remediation through some mushroom slurries.
Another way to approach it is from the bacteria end by using some fermented leftover juices (the liquid left from the ferment is usually rich in bacteria).
Or, if you have some all natural apple cider vinegar you could take part of the mother from that jug and create a new bottle, allowing the child to grow and then using that to inoculate your space.

Using both bacteria and fungi as inoculants will greatly reduce any effects of the contaminated straw mulch as well as beefing up the soil biota.

You might try a mix of cover crops for your seeding, that way everything will be in place when you come back to give no-till another trial.

Most seeding in the no-till method uses a seed drill of some sort, I use a stick and my foot, takes longer and I don't have nice straight rows, but I don't want to spend the money for one of the push style seeders.

Redhawk
 
Maureen Atsali
pollinator
Posts: 354
Location: Western Kenya
29
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Been a lot of discussion on no till lately.  No till hasn't been successful for me. But I am still hoping one day I'll get it right.  In the mean time I am watching your progress with great interest!
 
r ranson
master steward
Posts: 6011
Location: Left Coast Canada
747
books chicken tiny house
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I'm very curious to see how this goes.

The interesting thing is that locally mulch seldom works.  It either keeps the soil too dry by not allowing dew to penetrate, or it keeps it too wet in the winter.  Fukuoka and many no-till advocates come from places that have forests that drop their leaves, the leaves are a mulch which decomposes and creates soil.  We have very few forests like this and those we do have are in very choice conditions like estuaries or places that create their own rain from dew capture. 

But I like the idea of experimenting.  I have sections that we increase the soil fertility with animals, some with trenching compost, some with tilled under green manure.  If we can manage a crop with no-till, then that would be really nice. 
 
Bryant RedHawk
garden master
Posts: 2712
Location: Vilonia, Arkansas - Zone 7B/8A stoney, sandy loam soil pH 6.5
222
chicken dog forest garden hugelkultur hunting toxin-ectomy
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
One of the most interesting things about mulches that I have found is that they can be detrimental when not enough rainfall occurs.
In areas where fogs are the main moisture providers they can actually keep that moisture from getting to the soil surface and thus don't work the way they should.
In that type of environment it is a better use of mulch materials to work them into the soil so they form a medium for fungal and bacterial growth while at the same time providing air pathways which can direct moisture down where we need it to be.

The one constant I have found in over 40 years of research is that there is never going to be a singular way to do anything productive to creating soil.
Most of my findings point to multiple methods working in unison to reach the desired end effects.
It is the same fallacy that modern farmers have fallen for, that there is a singular way to grow the most per acre, when the data shows clearly that there isn't a universal remedy.

If we don't approach a problem from every angle we can imagine, we reduce our hope of success.
Nature never uses one particular methodology over all others, instead she hits a problem from all angles, sometimes all at once and other times in successive rounds.

Animals are wonderful tools as are deep rooting green manure crops and leaf litter, since the soil is fueled by decomposition the greater number of options we give those decomposing organisms the better they thrive and the more fertile the soil becomes from the diversity.

Redhawk
 
Nick Kitchener
Posts: 477
Location: Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada
10
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I wouldn't get too bent out of shape with regards to initiating your no till system with tilling in my humble opinion.

No-till is a regenerative tool, but the conditions need to be right before the technique is appropriate. If you have a situation where current conditions are preventing progress then you an either wait until those conditions go away (the herbicide reside will eventually degrade and the soil will recover if you are prepared to wait a few decades), or you can intervene and kick start the recovery.

If that means tilling and getting a good solid cover crop established then it's in the best long term interest of the land and everything living in the soil.
 
today's feeble attempt to support the empire
2017 Rocket Mass Heater Workshop Jamboree - 15 workshops in one event
https://permies.com/wiki/63312/permaculture-projects/Rocket-Mass-Heater-Workshop-Jamboree
  • Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic
Boost this thread!