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Beyond organic; Biological Farming for Nutrient Dense Food  RSS feed

 
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I've been an organic gardener for 50 years but there are so many things that are basically done just like conventional ag, just with organic materials. When I found Dan and these videos it really resonated with me and I knew he was speaking truth on all levels. There are 9 videos from a 2 day workshop. There is a massive amount of information here, but Dan manages to explain really complex soil processes in plain English. Really the whole concept is that all pests and disease, animal, plant, human are caused by malnutrition. I'm so pumped, I've got my soil test results back, my amendments are ordered and should be here next week. I think things are going to explode around here next year.

http://bionutrient.org/site/library/videos/dan-kittredge-living-web-farms
 
pollinator
Posts: 484
Location: Virginia USDA 7a/b
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Mary,

I like his approach. His videos were actually a reason I did some soil samples and have been tracking them. I am actually a member of his group. I like the idea that he treats a crop failure as the failure of the farmer not the plant.

However, there is a whole other side of it, which is based on the idea that you might be trying to change hundreds of yards of soil to grow something that is going to require further inputs ad nauseum. So why not plant what is better adapted to the soil you already have and keep selecting for those in generational succession? This is the Lofthouse strategy.

I have been doing a little of both. I would encourage you to read Dr Redhawk's Mineral Thread because it does kind of lay out the basis for minerals we don't test for, and why the concentrations we "look for" may be less important. This is a complex topic.

I will say minerals seem to be the big issue with why I can't just grow anything I want in this climate, so it is a great place to experiment. The areas I have intensively amended and provided with compost tea are just  remarkable. I'm just not sure the idea scales as you get into microclimates, you end up having to do an awful lot of intellectual and manual labor.

So I am doing some more intensive stuff based on his approach in small areas (would be great in a greenhouse/hoophouse for instance based on his results) and more Lofthouse in the big areas.
 
Mary Hysong
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TJ my place is so degraded from overgrazing, wood cutting and erosion that even the native prickly pear has died in some places. I think that once the soil is balanced, like you test and apply those things that are in short supply for 2=3 years, after that I think cover crops and leaving residue on as a mulch should keep them in the cycle. After that maybe you never have to add anything again, maybe certain things every so often. I know from experience it can take up to 3 years to get a decent crop here on new ground unless I do an extraordinary amount of labor hauling in manure, then the amount of labor slows down to mostly watering in the summer. Still many things do not do well and now I'm seeing why from my soil test. So I expect this coming year to be a big improvement, with more improvement over the following 2-3 years as more bacteria and fungi work on things. Even with compost, manure and wood chips I don't have a lot of fungal activity and I've seen no real signs of micorizal activity so this year I'm inoculating everything. Thanks for pointing me towards another interesting threads
 
pollinator
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Hi Mary.

I see Tj already posted a link to Dr. Redhawks mineral thread, but there's more in his Epic Soil Series worth your perusal.

One little tidbit I will mention is that much, if not all, of what you need might be there in the soil, but is locked away in forms that aren't biologically available. Dr. Redhawk mentions in several places how soil fungi can work with bacteria to unlock those minerals and nutrients and move them around to where they're needed.

Also, it is stressed that soil tests aren't necessarily comprehensive, as they approach things as a chemist would, and only really detect minerals and nutrients that are water soluble.

But I would suggest a little light (*cough*) reading of the above threads to see what applies to your situation, and perhaps Dr. Redhawk will make an appearance here as well.

Good luck, and keep us posted.

-CK
 
Mary Hysong
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Thanks Chris, I will look at the other thread also.

In good soils, virgin soils, I'd bet everything is there. Where soil has been abused and degraded and severely eroded I think some things are missing. I am not against using some soluable minerals to help jump start the systems and be able to get a decent crop the first year or two, while further working on bringing the soil more into line. The only things that are growing naturally on my property are mesquite, yucca and scrub oak. Large ares of prickly pear died. Most areas contain no native grasses or forbs because there really is no soil for them to grow in.. Those areas are basically all rock with an underlying caliche clay, a hole in it, filled with water will take 3 day to drain away. rain hitting it just sheets off.  I'm using the Logan Lab for soil testing. They test for a number of trace elements, including selenium (a deficiency of which causes star gazing in new born animals, extreme infertility and early fetal deaths. An excess is toxic), my soil has enough, probably because I use a lot of manure from animals that are supplemented. But I"m low in cobalt, boron, manganese and iron.

Here's what I expect to see happen. Next years garden does super, with less insect issues. A soil test next Sep will show higher mineral levels, perhaps even higher than to be expected for the amount of minerals added. Like adding some minerals will help grow more biology which will help unlock anything that is there but tied up.

Like to try and get some crop this winter/spring I am using the sulfate forms of iron and manganese. But the soil is so deficient I need more than the maximum recommended amounts. So, I am adding those amounts this year. Without biology I'd expect next years soil test to still show an extreme deficiency, but maybe the biology will bump up and release more of them, so that next years test shows only a moderate deficiency or none at all. Does that make sense?

I know the tests are limited, but it's a starting point for me, a guideline to point me in the right direction because I've been here 30 years piling on compost and manure and the trees are still stunted and the cukes still die after the first flush of fruit, IF they live that long, the tomatoes, squash and other things only yeild about half what they perhaps could. And everything shows the iron deficiency, even where the soil pH tests 7.5 instead of the native 9+

My Aim is to build up optimal nutrition in the soil, for maximum yield with maximum nutrition in the food.
 
gardener
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Location: Vilonia, Arkansas - Zone 7B/8A stoney, sandy loam soil pH 6.5
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Where on the planet are you located Mary?

Redhawk
 
Chris Kott
pollinator
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Location: Toronto, Ontario
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How are you for calcium? Also, maybe you should try a test plot where you douse it with vinegar. That might correct pH in the short-term, and change the caliche into something more soil-like.

Even 7.5 is pretty alkaline for most garden veggies. That might be some of the cause of your die-off issues.

-CK
 
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