Joseph Lofthouse wrote:
What a great idea to add to my justifications for tilling... The one I typically use is: Since I am growing on river delta soil, and since the river traditionally flooded every year and laid down a fresh layer of soil, therefore I figure that now that the river no longer floods my fields that tilling is a close approximation to the natural conditions that existed in my garden before agriculture.
Mike Haych wrote:Our property is such that it's difficult to harvest the leaves - the grey dogwood understory makes it impossible to get at the ash, maple, oak, butternut leaves. So we were using straw bales from a farmer friend who doesn't use a pre-harvest dessicant such as Roundup, Eragon, or Reglone. He does use Roundup before seeding so I wasn't comfortable using his straw. Whenever we go to town in the fall, we take bags of leaves from the curbside but that's always a crapshoot with folks putting all kinds of things in the bad that are quite nasty. We have a friend who brings us a pickup truck of leaves in exchange for a couple of jars of rosehip jelly. So I looked at sources of growing our own mulch/compost biomass. We settled on Miscanthus giganteus. Its flowers set no seed and its rhizomes spread very slowly. And we get 12 feet of growth each year before it winter kills to the ground. I mostly harvest brown in the early fall before the leaves are blown off by the wind but I could harvest green earlier if I needed green material. It goes through wood chipper really quickly but a small electric chipper would handle it too although more slowly. My mulch/compost problem is solved. My planting is 30'x30' and will get larger as we experiment with it as a replacement for woodchips.
Anyone who decides to try Miscanthus giganteus should start on a precautionary basis. We planted a small 3' x 10' area to see if the rhizomes did in fact spread slowly. I did not want to find out that our conditions were such that I had a very aggressive spreader that would have required much effort to be rid of. Make sure that you get Miscanthus giganteus not Miscanthus sacchariflorus or Miscanthus sinensis or some other aggressive spreader.
Todd Parr wrote:
Michael Vormwald wrote:
... if I'm not just robbing Peter to pay Paul. I'm taking away the material that would otherwise enrich the soil beneath the trees that dropped the leaves.
This is very important to me, and something I battle with. I use wood chips extensively. I largely bring them in from elsewhere. I couldn't possibly grow enough trees to cover the ground with as many woodchips as I need in any kind of timely manner. I grow cover crops, I have chickens and use their manure, I compost, but the bottom line is, I have to import materials to create soil at a faster rate than it would be created otherwise.
I am enjoying this thread and the thought you are all putting into it very much.
Peter Ingot wrote:F
As regards poop versus no poop, I am firmly on the side of poop. Michael Vormwald is right in theory, but I suspect the theory is wrong, because practical experience confirms what John Seymour said on the subject: There is a kind of magic which happens when vegetable matter passes through the guts of an animal.
Rebecca Norman wrote:Back to the original title "Lack of poop endangers soil"...
When I saw the title, I thought it would be all about how even organic farming will decimate soils eventually because we keep withdrawing the nutrients of our food and shiping them off to cities and then flushing them down toilets.
Tyler Ludens wrote:
Mike Haych wrote:
Tyler Ludens wrote:"Loess (pronounced "luss"), is German for loose or crumbly. It is a gritty, lightweight, porous material composed of tightly packed grains of quartz, feldspar, mica, and other minerals. Loess is the source of most of our Nation's rich agricultural soils and is common in the U.S. and around the world."
You seem to be talking about mineral richness, whereas I'm talking about biological fertility specific to the prairies.
All that I was saying is that this part of the world is mostly loess soil which is extremely fertile and usually very deep. Given that, it's not all that surprising that deep rooted prairie grasses established which attracted and supported large grazing herds which enriched the topsoil further and attracted hunters who managed the environment by burning. My point was that underlying it all is the soil. I think that we're talking about parts of the same process.
I think we are, but I'm not convinced deep-rooted prairie grasses developed first, I think they evolved with the action of bison and humans. Certainly grasses established in the loess grit at some point, but, I don't think the tall grasses of the prairie could have developed without the action of grazing and fire. And the tall grasses with the action of the bison and humans are what built the deep fertile soils of the prairies, as I understand it. But since we can't probably determine exactly when tall grasses (such as Big Bluestem) evolved, who can say? I guess my personal beef is that I don't like to see the interaction of the bison and the first peoples sort of shoved aside as an unimportant aspect of the development of this special ecosystem, when, as I understand it, the prairies might be the only ecosystem created with the action of humans in the role of apex predator, and as one of the most diverse and productive ecosystems on Earth, proof that human activity is not necessarily detrimental, as some people very strongly believe. Many environmentalists see humans, any humans, as a blight on the planet, when the prairies at least are evidence that humans needn't be a blight, but can be a significant asset.
Pardon my soapbox!
John Saltveit wrote:Do you understand that many plants and animals co-evolved together, and only made leaps of evolution as the wide biodiversity allowed them to be more resilient in responding to different weather and climatic challenges? A plant by itself has very little resiliency. Herbivores eat some of the plant, then move on before killing the plant, thereby ensuring the plant's growth. They leave behind an enormous variety of life in the soil, which is where the strength of the grassland biome lies. This is just as a fruit eating animal like, well, us, eats the fruit, plants the seed and ensures the survival of the plant, by fertilizing it and spreading it. You haven't responded to the nutrition and biodiversity in the soil, creating strength and nutrition that was not there before, nor to Alan Savory's well-documented findings.
John Saltveit wrote:Michael,
I don't see any reasoning behind that belief. Did you see my post or William's?