J W Richardson

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since Aug 04, 2012
Council, ID
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Recent posts by J W Richardson

I’ve been feeding home made recipe to a mixed flock of Langshans, Swedish Blacks, and Ameraucanas and their crosses for several years. I am able to locally source a 2-1 mix of no spray wheat and peas ($12.00 / 50 lbs), which also seems to be the standard base for non gmo feed. That by itself is close to 16% protein. I buy organic Fertrell fish meal and add maybe 4-5 TBL to a gallon of feed, and soak/ferment. The birds are free range in a rural area, and do a lot of grazing of grass and legumes in season (zone 5) in addition to contributing in a big way to the insect apocalypse. During the winter I add some dried greens, alfalfa meal or pellets usually, or dried kale or nettles. I was adding kelp meal for minerals but now am buying the basic mix with minerals added. Not too sure if I like that as I believe it has calcium, and I have roosters and prefer to feed oyster shells free choice.
 There is a big difference in having free range or penned birds, although I think it is not that hard to come up with a balanced feed that would be fine for penned birds at a fraction of the price for premixed organic. There are sources for comparative feed protein amounts and calculators online.
7 months ago
So, ran out of biochar, but overall success. It had no ammonia massive release, but it could have been headed there, had a day where it started to get strong but not super bad ammonia. I went to Jondo’s idea, a really thick layer of hay as a cap, and that worked to go back to odor ‘free’.
 This will all head outside to compost once the snow melts.

 Just saw this article from Cornell-


1 year ago
So glad you are interested, Nancy! I have been thinking about why this works so well and I am wondering if autoallelopathy is playing a role. Reading about allelopathy is certainly a rabbithole!
1 year ago

Jondo Almondo wrote:@JW - With absorbing ammonia emissions from manure, biochar will work ok, but would work better if the whole mix was submerged in water. Can I suggest an extremely thick layer of hay? Many composters use a thick (sometimes compacted and moistened) layer of mulch to 'cap off' their pile and reduce emissions. A tarp over the lot can also contain and condense some of the gasses.
Biochars ability to absorb gasses is related to the duration of high-temperature ranges in it's production. A good biochar for the soil is less ideal for absorbing gasses, activated charcoal (made at higher temps) is great at absorption, not so great for the soil.
Also, if your worried about emissions - burning wet stuff slowly, smoldering matter in a pit is about as emissions intensive as it can get. It's also quite bad for your health. It's potentially worse than a traditional burn pile due to increased dioxin and PM outputs.

That was a very decent article in the NYT. Great to read that individual states are trying to roll out soil education, carbon credits and research in this field. The soil-carbon plan for France is especially ambitious given its national scale.

Hi Jondo, not sure if you were thinking I am doing a low temp slow burn for the biochar? I am going for the opposite, a fast burning fire being fed in small amounts to prevent smothering, then water quenched as soon as the last branches die down.
  Hi Nancy, so far so good with the chicken ammonia, I am adding enough char to completely cover droppings every couple days, then topping with more hay, no ammonia fumes so far. I will update in a week or so, finally getting some temps warm enough to really test it.
1 year ago
Re the prunings, I have posted in the biochar forum, a quick summary, I use a simple pit, and stack everything under some pines nearby that give some rain protection. After the first rain in the fall gets the surroundings wet enough, I burn. Most hasn’t had a chance to get too wet at that point. If I go slow with adding stuff that wants to smother, like canes with leaves, I can get a pretty clean burn. Not the perfect system, but easily attainable by anyone with no initial cost. Better than the traditional burn pile, haha.
 It should be a matter of biochar quantity for the ammonia, I am hoping.
1 year ago
More off topic, There is this guy in New Mexico taking a little different approach to composting cow manure, and claims that the fungal community desalinates the end product, He is not turning piles and lets them sit for a year, using perforated pipe initially to get air into the pile...


Here I use chicken manure for my animal inputs, and have a system where I put new hay down to cover the manure in the coop every couple of days, pretty much the same as the tedguy was saying.  In the summer everything dries, no ammonia fumes, but in the winter during long freezes the manure just freezes and then when it thaws it really releases a lot of ammonia.
This winter I am putting much more char down as a layer right on top of the manure before covering, so will see how much I need in order to capture that ammonia. In the past I have removed and composted all that, but it would be nice to not have those emissions escape, especially since they are fertilizer.
Since I make char once a year, in the fall, this works well. But where will all that char come from for an industrial sized operation? For me I use almost all berry canes and fruit tree prunings, so these systems work well for a small outfit.
 Industrial ag still needs to be reorganized into much smaller units, no?

1 year ago
I have Arapaho, Triple Crown, and Chester, and a couple winters ago we has a ton of snow and temps down to -15f for a few days. They all died back to the snowline that year.
1 year ago
Just finished off an apple crisp made with Arkansas Black. Not much to speak of right off the tree, but they still look great in February and are much tastier now. The tree is beyond vigorous.
  I dried a bunch of Ashmead’s Kernal this fall, and it iwas so tasty! Here it is super intense flacvor wise, very acidic, my favorite so far. Most of my trees are still growing.
 This area had commercial apple orchards until the 60’s, and along the Weiser River there are hundreds of feral seedling trees. Got into hard cider last year. A friend has a seedling tree that is a true spitter due to tannins, but the cider it makes is divine.
1 year ago
I loved this article! One question I had, how exactly did the pasture return to a carbon banking field from a carbon losing field? I know they spread compost, but what microbes were in that compost, anything special? Bacterial or fungal? What types? Do I need to know, or will any compost work?
1 year ago