Resusitating degraded soil. input required

Discussion in 'Planting, growing, nurturing Plants' started by Krankieone, Mar 9, 2014.

  1. Krankieone

    Krankieone Junior Member

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    We have just purchased a 50 hectare farmlet which has been over grazed the top soil is very fine ph 5 - 5.5( in the couple of quick samples we grabed) little to none visible organic matter .I am looking for some cost effective methods of rebuilding the soil .I have thaught about sperading sawdust and or chicken /pig manure .I am sure my local rural suplier will recomend a ton of lime & 250kg of super per hectare(or something along those lines) while I'm sure it will help my pasture growth I'm dont think it will adress the underlieing problem of degraded soil. The padocks vary from 3 to 20 ha in size so Looking for solutions that will suit larger scale .

    Looking foward to your thaughts
     
  2. Gonhar

    Gonhar Junior Member

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    To start building soil, consider planting cover crops such as buckwheat, rye, and vetch. Not sure of your climate zone or future purpose of the land, but having green manures begins building the soil.
     
  3. Rick Larson

    Rick Larson Junior Member

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    My thaughts are you ought to participate in Geoff Lawton's PDC.
     
  4. Pakanohida

    Pakanohida Junior Member

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    quick thoughts


    This is going to sound odd, but in the Soils DVD for sale here at PRI, is a lil known recipe from Geoff Lawton on how to make a mineral mix for your larger animals which in turn remineralizes your soil naturally. From there, its all about cover crops of various kinds mixed with mangle's

    Permaculture has no quick fixes for damage done to soil over a long period of time, however, it does only take a couple of years to see significant progress.

    Lastly, the #1 thing to do again, will seem odd but after 3 years of turning hard clay into useable soil here, I found Mr. Mollisons advice in the film.... ..Global Gardener (you can find it on Youtube most likely) to be inspiring; he joins up with a fellow Tasmanian rancher who looked after soil where ever he went. What he did was simple, but profound; he would dig up small patches every so many feet on acres and add the simple worm.

    Alibophorus calliginosa

    So there you go. Worms, cover crops, and mineralization via your animals.
     
  5. 9anda1f

    9anda1f Administrator Staff Member

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    And organic material. All the organic material you can get. We have similar "dirt" and recently have been able to get all the lawn clippings, tree prunings, shrub cuttings, etc from the nearby town to build huge composting piles that can be spread out as topsoil starter. Slow work over a large area, but we're seeing a "jump start" in the areas where organic materials have been added, and it holds moisture in the deeper soil too!
     
  6. Krankieone

    Krankieone Junior Member

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    It looks like I'l have to check out Geoff Lawton .

    9anda1f that's a good idea I have a feeling that our Municipal council will charge for "green waste" (which was Why I was thinking of aproaching the local saw mill about sawdust as a means of adding organic matter to the soil) However I will talk to them about bulk .
     
  7. mouseinthehouse

    mouseinthehouse Junior Member

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    When you say overgrazed....how long since stock have been on the land? How long did the overgrazing go on for? What grasses, forbs etc. do you have there at the moment if any? Do you know what grasses, forbs etc were there before the overgrazing?

    If your paddocks are bare and you haven't owned the property through a full germination and growing season I would be loathe to do anything until you see what comes up naturally.
     
  8. eco4560

    eco4560 New Member

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    There's green waste out there - you just need to keep your eyes open…. Call the local lawn mowing service and offer to let them dump stuff at your pace for free. The local stables, horse race track or dairy farm for manures. Coffee grounds from coffee shops. Shredded paper from offices. Even restaurant waste. Rake leaves in the local park in autumn when no one is looking and take them home. Road kill!

    Might take a bit of time and effort for you to cart it back to your place and process it, but it's cheaper in many ways (not just the up front cost) of the 'pay someone to solve my problem' approach.

    Saw dust is OK for areas where you don't want stuff to grow anytime soon - like paths as it causes N draw down and suppresses plant growth. You need to compost it first. Mixing it with humanure in a compost toilet has to be the best solution to that issue!

    As well as organic matter - slow water down so that it has time to soak in. Plant cover crops / green manures. And don't over graze!
     
  9. ramdai

    ramdai Junior Member

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    Take everything i say as an opinion, but your wording in the first post led me to believe you have not actually taken multiple careful soil phs,, on a large farm there's going to be lots of variation.

    There's a saying to farm like a gardener--which simply means pay attention to details, some areas may benefit from lime (wood ash may be a better choice if possible), while others may be perfectly fine and raising the ph might be a bad thing.

    as far as building the soil , Elaine Ingham has several videos https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GEtl09VZiSU this is a good lecture and the following is more a how to of how to prepare a spray for large scale application https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1dEJg0Ob5cg

    I don't know how easy it would be to get your soil tested at a soil food web laboratory, and i'm not sure it's totally necessary if you inoculate your pile with some good healthy soil to get the proper organisms started

    or if you have a specific goal for the land you might go to the expense of finding the specific profile of fungi and bacterial types and prepare your brew accordingly and purchase some starter bacteria /fungi to get everything started

    I'm still at the beginning stages of understanding these methodologies, and there is a bit of science involved, but i think the main thing is to make a good aerobic compost and then make sure when you make the tea you have a good clean bubbler system to keep the tea aerobic.

    for large scale applications this may be the easiest , cheapest, and most effective way to normalize soil conditions
     
  10. Pakanohida

    Pakanohida Junior Member

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    50hectacres, I wasn't even going to suggest that, use of cover crops keylined in would seem much wiser.
     
  11. ramdai

    ramdai Junior Member

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    Have you looked into the links i posted? i was listening to one of her interviews and it seemed she was suggesting that simply improving the soil biology would have an effect similar to keyline--i really think the keyline plow is awesome and the results are proven, Ingham's work is relatively new, but she makes claims that just adding proper soil microbes can stabilize eroding landscapes within 24 -48 hrs. and generate top soil within a year.

    although she doesn't specify amounts (it depends) she seemed to think we could fix the worlds co2 and soil problems in a years time if everybody started to take it seriously and brought the soil back to life

    and if microbes could create topsoil the way keyline does that would be awesome- a lot less energy and less expensive too

    almost seems too good to be true,, just wondering if you had any thoughts on it
     
  12. Rick Larson

    Rick Larson Junior Member

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  13. ramdai

    ramdai Junior Member

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    Of course using the keyline system for water harvesting is a given, whatever other methods might be used for building soil-- the keyline method for building soil is to have a diverse perrenial pasture with legumes and cut or graze just before flowering, then go through with the keyline plow -sliperimpshakerator or whatever it was named, but everybody just calls it keyline and then repeat going deeper as the roots penetrate more and more,

    I heard an interview with yeoman and he emphasized the soil life and feeding the microbes (principally with the sloughed off roots of the freshly grazed field)

    and i'll try and remember this correctly, ingham was saying that almost every place on the planet has sufficient nutrients in the rocks, clay etc, and that all that was needed was the soil biology to break these down into useable forms for the plants

    I don't know but i suspect she was even saying that proper soil biology would adjust ph as well by going after the specific minerals and putting them into the solution.

    She asserts that normal soil testing is only looking at the nutrients already available to plants, not the actual profile of all the elements in the ground, so importing large quantities of this or that element is largely unnecessary

    but, it was necessary to rebuild the diversity of the soil life since much of the soil life has been killed off by bad agricultural methods--esp modern chem ag

    That's where her cultures come in

    I'm always skeptical of this sort of science that leads to selling a product, and i'm looking for a workaround to increase soil microbe diversity but if a one time purchase leads to reestablishing a better balanced diversity in the soil, it might be a quick shortcut to improve plant growth
     
  14. Rick Larson

    Rick Larson Junior Member

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    The microbes are a part of a much larger process. The effort should be on designing a system that will speed up the growth towards apex that benefit humans. So with that we should combine as many of these elements together as possible.
     
  15. ramdai

    ramdai Junior Member

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    Of course design and inclusion of all variables is necessary. My question was specific to the research of dr ingham and her claims about the relative importance of diversity of soil life. Namely that it is more important than just adding green manure or keyline plowing.

    Up till recently compost tea to me was a frill, a nice addition if i got around to it, and often i would put some compost and water in a bucket, let it sit around for a few days and then wonder why i never saw much improvement when i applied it to the garden.

    This research would seem to indicate it is a priority and the best bang for the buck, and i wondered what experience people had with really aerobic compost teas, and maybe if someone has actually tried some of these special microbe mixes.

    A friend of mine got some alaskan microbe mix, added some molasses and such and bubbled it for a bit--dumped a little on a stunted plant that hadn't done anything all season and it grew a couple feet in a few weeks

    this is anecdotal at best, and i'm looking for more confirmation and direction from others with experience
     
  16. Rick Larson

    Rick Larson Junior Member

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    Ok then. I have tried mixes for the first time last year, but didn't see any marked growth versus non-treated trees. Maybe this year though. I bought them from Kelp4Less.
     
  17. eco4560

    eco4560 New Member

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    Microbes are living creatures with needs - you can't sprinkle them around and not have anything for them to live on. They need water and nutrients. If the soil is so deficient that it long ago stopped supporting microbes then adding a few million in isn't going to help. I can't see how they can't prevent erosion. How can a bunch of microscopic bugs stop water running down a hill from scouring out a path? But earthworks can.

    The message I got form my PDC was that water is the one critical element. Sort that out first and foremost and then play with the other elements of the design. Like bugs.
     
  18. ramdai

    ramdai Junior Member

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    i linked to two videos earlier in this thread, the answers to your questions are there, I'd love to discuss this research with someone but Dr. Ingham explains it much better than i can
     
  19. Krankieone

    Krankieone Junior Member

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    wow this thread has kicked off while I've been out working:D

    I recall haveing a high school teacher who banged on about keyline plowing now I wished I'd payed attention the topography of our new property would lend it's self to to some keyline teraforming .I'm just not sure how I'll convince my wife I need an excavator (a FEL tractor took long enough)

    I had an interesting conversation with a lady who runs a business called The Green Cockie at the Seymour alternative farming expo regarding application of live soil bactirea & fungi and using them to control bracken fern .I had not previously concidered compost teas as I assumrd they were only practical for small scale application as I had only ever seen it done by my grandfather in his suberban garden
     
  20. ramdai

    ramdai Junior Member

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    Trying to start up on a budget is frustrating at times --i would be so much farther along if i had a backhoe on the property full time, and wouldn't be forced to figure out alternate solutions.

    If you can't get the excavator right away there's lots you can do with a tractor and an inexpensive subsoiler--that's what PA Yeoman started with before he invented his keyline plow, and if you're a bit handy with a welder, you might even be able to put something together with that vibration the keyline plow is famous for.

    I mentioned the techniques earlier, but there are resources online that go into greater explanation--the idea of plowing slightly uphill from the valleys to the ridges--and getting the water flow uniformly moving across the landscape . It's bit difficult to explain, especially when some of the words translate slightly differently in my mind, but really it's not that complicated when you get on the ground and start walking a contour line


    you could probably seed in a mixed pasture cover crop and maybe spray the compost tea all with the same pass, minimizing disturbance, time, money and energy. Darin Doherty really loads up each movement of the tractor with as many functions as he possibly can , and really you should only have to seed and inoculate the soil with microbes one time if it's a good preparation, after that you may want to spray some water soluble nutrients for an added boost, but could probably just make do cutting your pasture at the right time and going a little deeper with the subsoiler--just be sure to take water considerations into account, and don't plow (or plant) in a dry spell- wait till the day before the rains come

    if you can get the excavator then it really is time for the earthworks dvds--or just take the online course with Geoff that starts in 2+ weeks, the earthworks course is free with that.
     

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