Jump to content

Recommended Posts

Dr Kristine Nichols has been observing plants supplemented with fertilizer at seeding time when their nutrient use is very low because they are tiny plants. She is seeing the plants shun forming any relationships with fungii. When faced with an oversupply of nutrition they decide to go it alone. Because the fungii are not being fed with co2 from the plant roots in return for nutrients that they can scavenge from the soil beyond the root zone, they die off or the population stays very small.

 

the plant is growing on the nutrients that it can find with its own hair roots. As the plant approaches flowering and its demand rapidly increases it starts to run out of nutrition and floods the soil with water and co2 to tempt the fungii to bond with it and trade those nutrients that it cant reach. the fungii are not there to respond and the plant suffers from both the lack of nutrient and the water loss.

 

she has also found another fungii that trade molecules with phosphorus in them from plants that hoard it (like grasses) with  legumes that need it in large amounts to split and convert nitrogen(n2) into something useful then the legumes trade the nitrogen back to the grass. I think I have seen this a couple of times with vetch and oats together and it confused me, I had always assumed that the legume plant released its goodies after it died as it broke down.

 

My guess would be that the elevated carbon levels with biochar and high organic carbon soils are helping these sorts of microbes to survive and flourish so that these relationships between microbes and plants can form in large numbers and exist for the life of the plant.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

On the Brown's Ranch website, it's mentioned that the methods they employ come from the field of Holistic Management. Just thought I'd pass that along in case anyone here hasn't heard of it, wants to learn more about it, and is in a position to apply those techniques.

 

I sent Gabe a thank you note and part of his reply was, "Please keep on spreading the word by informing others that they can drive 

change by the way they spend their food dollars."

 

Even if you've not got rangeland, this can't be overstated as "the least any of us can do" - when we can grow well-raised food, do that; when we can't, at least try to support those who are growing it. All to the best of our abilitites.

 

Yahoo2, it may be sadly interesting to note that in my Master Gardener training course (yes, a tool of the university system, but gardeners are good at seeding non-mainstream things around the edges), the soil class instructor mentioned a study done here at our very own UCDavis that showed how chemical fertilizers benefitted microbial soil life.  That may be the case in some strange and freakish twist of things, BUT what you posted about Dr. Nichols' research is really the crux: industrialized responses break natural relationships.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

"80% of people are follower, they just copy what the leaders do, it is pointless explaining anything to them unless you are from the group of leaders

15% of people are leaders they take what is established and proven and make it their own, they are usually loud,charismatic or persuasive but still have not much original thought or logic" Yahoo2

 

my entire mission is to encourage the next generation 20-40 years to be teachers (for the next 0-20 years, which includes my own kids, i am too old for them to listen to me ;) )- to go back to the cross roads where greed superseded need. Where money became the reason, not just a component, of the process and take a new sustainable path that balancers environment; social with trade- The world does not need any more ego driven leadership it needs implementing teachers, doing it by example!

 

Yahoo, i have found inoculation Biochar with Trichoderma reesei mycorrhiza amongst other nutrients works amazingly well. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi Luke,

 

Gary, been getting huge energy from the stack emissions (syngas) especially on plastic and rubber tyres (low carbon though) while less energy and more carbon with wood (33%) and about 30000 btu per kg. 

 

Care to talk more about this?

 

Gary

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Yahoo, i have found inoculation Biochar with Trichoderma reesei mycorrhiza amongst other nutrients works amazingly well. 

 

:D I know a guy who worked in PNG, he reckoned Trichoderma could eat the handle off a shovel overnight if he left it outside!

 

 

Yahoo2, it may be sadly interesting to note that in my Master Gardener training course (yes, a tool of the university system, but gardeners are good at seeding non-mainstream things around the edges), the soil class instructor mentioned a study done here at our very own UCDavis that showed how chemical fertilizers benefitted microbial soil life.  That may be the case in some strange and freakish twist of things, BUT what you posted about Dr. Nichols' research is really the crux: industrialized responses break natural relationships.

 

I am sure Gabe Brown appreciates your thankyou note. I have learned over the years that research can be technically correct but the conclusions that we draw can still be flawed, I am not as anxious about it as I once was. Perspective is a wonderful thing. I look at my little veg patch and the old corn stalks that are not rotted down are telling me that i am not growing enough legumes, the Carbon Nitrogen ratio is way too high. I am not growing enough plants, not enough flowers, not enough weeds. Next time I plant sweet corn, it will be "the three sisters" plus a pollinator attracting flower.

I liken the way I used to garden to driving a car with 4 flat tyres and the handbrake on and thinking that the car is sluggish because the motor is not big enough.

 

I know that in a hot dry climate with degraded soil the first winter rain combined with lots of available fertilizer starts an explosion of microbes, the baddies are the fastest breeders, it takes at least a month for the predators to make a dent in them by this time most of the plants roots are destroyed. in this situation slowing the nutrient release, holding water longer, shading the soil and having growing plants as habitat changes everything, the predator microbes are already established and working hard when a winter crop is planted.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

 

http://brownsranch.us/services/

 

Private Farm/Ranch consultation: $1,500/Day Plus all Expenses at Cost.

 

 

 

My agronomist and entomologist only wish they were paid so well!!!!

 

Out of curiosity...  Are any of ya'll's entire livelihood, financial ability to survive and future in agriculture, dependent upon your farm's bottom line?

 

If so... then you would realize how watching these videos become incredibly tiring... due to how they basically call us idiots for simply not "getting it" and "wanting" to pay these costs.... Wish they would simply give full transparency... such as... Sharing legible soil profile nutrients test, daily moisture probing tests throughout the growing season, and plant analysis tests at the pertinent plant stages.... all 4 or 5 of these, at least, are a requirement for me... Cost of cover crop seed and cost of equipment/maintenance to drill the seed for cover crops... I would definitely love to read this information involving the fella that made 220 bushel/acre corn with zero fertilizer inputs, zero herbicide, and zero pesticides.... They did "this" thus gave them "this".... This is the only way folk's like him will be able to convince us ignorant, hard headed farmers like me... Unfortunately, trying to get honest transparency from farmers is like trying to get water out of a rock.

 

Mid-west corn producers have been doing green cover crops for quite a while as well... but.... due to their climate... they have to apply "knockdown" herbicides to kill the cover crop to gain its benefits and stops it sapping of all of the moisture for the upcoming corn crop...

 

I would love to see these guys try to do a green cover crop in my area, where I might only get 3 inches of rain during the growing season, which is also the hottest, driest time of year... and then see if they still happen to have enough water allowances available to grow a 90~118 day crop during summer... without incurring penalties due to water over consumption for the year...

 

North Plains Growndwater District (http://www.northplainsgcd.org/) has been given grants for research to help encourage farmers to improve farm methodologies. The most recent program called "200-12" has expired and the farmers involved were able to obtain 15.51 bushels (corn) per inch of irrigation... some was no-till, some strip-till.... however, none used green cover crops (except for wheat or oats...kind of) due to the unacceptable water costs to grow green cover crops and still have enough allowance to remain within the "200-12" program qualifications... Water consumed by the green cover crops is counted as well for the primary crops water consumption since the green cover crop would not have been done if there was no primary crop being grown...

 

 

My dad has been farming since 1973... He has been aware of what goes on elsewhere... From what he tells me, took fellas up in North Dakota using the holistic approach a very long time until their yields were above county yield averages... What exactly were their yields while converting to the holistic approach? How long, until the holistic approach pays off, must I stay financially in the red until I can start paying my bills? Will the banks financially surrender my assets within 3 years if I stay in the red for that long?

 

 

My guess... Since from what I gather they (Gabe @ Brown's Ranch) started as livestock ranchers...  are very smart cattle men and this is what pulled them through it all... Cattle can lend a fella to very good money... that is if ya know how to buy low, sell high, and are quite conservative... with the right instincts, slickness, and ability... There is so much about being a good cattle man that it is something you are taught by previous generations... it is not something you just decide to do all of a sudden with minimal connections... my dad learned this from my grandfather, whom my grandfather was the one that did not have the "right instincts, slickness, and ability" taught by previous generations and failed miserably (gone financially bankrupt at least 3 times from what my dad told me).

 

 

I think that bit where he talked about not working with banks nor government programs nor insurance programs is a bunch of nonesense... There are subtleties and complexities to these programs that likely he did not want to mess with or agree to... which none of it would tell him how to farm... as I know from using these programs... they are very open ended, but, managerially, you have to be willing to do certain things, which none of it impacts operations and only helps financially.... unless this is where Texas and North Dakota differ...

 

 

Just aggravating to me... I'm a guy trying to make this work, with depleting water, don't know if I can still be farming within 15 years, and then these fellas come along... which is great... but ya got to show me more than that... and...

 

...for a farmer like me... whom only makes approximately $36,000 per year before livelihood expenses and helping with my sister and parents while maintaining the farm's retained earnings for emergencies and next year's operation...  paying "$1,500/Day Plus all Expenses at Cost" is a huge price tag on a product that simply says, "trust us, look at what we did, the same will happen at your place" without any type of contractual garauntee if the results of implementing the recommendation fails.

 

No-till equipment is quite expensive as well, even when just leasing or contract hiring... Not an easy thing to get a reliable piece of equipment.... I'm hoping i will get lucky at an equipment auction ... been looking for about 3 years...

 

I am very open minded to wanting to do something to improve the situation... but... come on... need much more information... too many think... simply just a matter of "choice" as to why I am farming the way I do, which is incredibly shallow...

 

 

I am thinking about giving this guy a phone call to see what he has to say.... and depending on what he says...

 

... I might splurge, pull some money out of my personal savings account, and pay the "$1,500/Day Plus all Expenses at Cost"... I know my dad won't take this idea so kindly... but... things aren't the way they used to be around here when my dad farmed and things gotta change...  although, I may not and just make the best of what I have, run my ride through, sell everything in 15 years, and retire...

 

 

Just sharing my honest thoughts here... different perspective when involves manipulating one's financial lifeline and future within agriculture.

Edited by crsublette (see edit history)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi Gary

 

Biocarbon has an energy content of 30 GJ/te. Each unit (5,000 tepy of biocarbon) can produce 1.5 MW (depends on energy conversion efficiencies) of electricity or 14 GJ (13 MMBTU) of heat. Conversion to heat is much more energy efficient than electricity production.

The process utilizes local biomass, which can include forestry and agriculture waste and residual, and MSW (municipal solid waste). The process works for CCHP (combined cooling, heating and power) and remote communities to replace fossil-fuel-sourced power plants, such as diesel.

 

Converting biomass into biocarbon produces a fuel that can be efficiently utilized to generate energy. The utilization of biomass for power generation is difficult for smaller electrical demand (<10MW), as a steam turbine is generally not economic. The generating technologies for such situations [e.g., internal combustion engines (e.g., Jenbacher), microturbines, fuel cells] are based on gasification of the biomass, producing a syngas (mixture of carbon monoxide and hydrogen). These technologies are sensitive to the wood tars that are produced when biomass is gasified. During the carbonization process, the wood tars are already removed in the process.

 

regards luke

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

thanks for your insight, crsublette. I'm not a farmer and I appreciate hearing what is REALLY involved. I wish there was an easier way to find the right way for your situation/place. Is it possible to try things on a small scale? That's something I think about as I drive through my region's fields - how there isn't even a corner somewhere where folks are trying new methods (or at least not visible to me from the road) with, say, intensively grazed and moved cattle or ?? It seems like everything is black and white (either you're doing everything conventionally or you're totally doing it alternatively - but how about hybrid options for folks who fear losing their shirts but NEED to try something new?  Just thinking out loud here, I don't expect an answer). Like with the Groundwater District - their attempt was so either/or - of course you'd have to water cover crops - but in the end, the same space would be more productive and diverse and it would be led toward its maximum water-conserving state, as well, once the soil was nurtured and organic matter continued to be added (it would hold the water it got, better)...

 

There has been, I think, a fair amount written on holistic management - maybe you'd find some of the information you're looking for starting here: http://holisticmanagement.org/resources/

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

thanks for your insight, crsublette. I'm not a farmer and I appreciate hearing what is REALLY involved. I wish there was an easier way to find the right way for your situation/place. Is it possible to try things on a small scale? That's something I think about as I drive through my region's fields - how there isn't even a corner somewhere where folks are trying new methods (or at least not visible to me from the road) with, say, intensively grazed and moved cattle or ?? It seems like everything is black and white (either you're doing everything conventionally or you're totally doing it alternatively - but how about hybrid options for folks who fear losing their shirts but NEED to try something new?  Just thinking out loud here, I don't expect an answer). Like with the Groundwater District - their attempt was so either/or - of course you'd have to water cover crops - but in the end, the same space would be more productive and diverse and it would be led toward its maximum water-conserving state, as well, once the soil was nurtured and organic matter continued to be added (it would hold the water it got, better)...

 

There has been, I think, a fair amount written on holistic management - maybe you'd find some of the information you're looking for starting here: http://holisticmanagement.org/resources/

 

 

I have wondered the same... why aren't there any small 20 acre demonstration research plots in my area to show the effectiveness of green cover crops in my area?

 

If I can get the equipment... my plan is to only do a quarter (30 acres) of a typical 120acre field here,,, if it works out... then I will phase it into my remainder farm... but... can't do it when don't have the equipment... when talking about small acreage, then custom operators shove ya off since they make money due to number of acres covered... May the "certified experts" on the HMI site might know of someone whom I can lease equipment from at a reasonable rate.

 

Thanks for the website. I read many progressive styled farm magazines and never came across to a reference to the HMI website... so... I appreciate this... I will look into them.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi Charles,

 

I looked at this page on the HMI site and noticed that there were several Texan farms listed on the first page of the directory alone.  You'd be the only one who could determine if they were farming in similar circumstances to yourself...but they might be a good place to start your investigation.

 

Gary

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

getting very exited with the development of a clay seed pellet.

 

the concept is that soil, how ever bad we conceive it contains all the necessary nutrients and trace minerals needed to sustain healthy plant life. Due to a history of exploitative farming techniques and over use of chemicals, soil has "gone to sleep". In other words the living organisms needed to exchange the locked nutrients from the soil to the plant are no longer there.

We have developed a pellet that is made up of-Biochar inoculated with EM, Mycorrhiza, volcanic rock powder, powdered bentonite clay and seed (in this case a mix of cover crop- White clover, rye and oat grass). 

 

The idea is not to deep plough the land as important gasses will be released but rather a light surface raking. The pellets are applied at the rate of about 500kg's per hector, the pellets protect the seed from various predators. Once initially watered the pellets dissolve and germination begins. During the process of root growth which is stimulated and vigorously increased by the presence of the Mycorrhiza the plant releases food fluids (exudates) into the soil at the root zone stimulating the effective microorganisms (EM) which in turn repels other pathogenic organisms. The Mycorrhiza also fights off non associated plants (weeds).

Biochar has a very large water holding capacity making this technique viable in low rainfall areas. Biochar also has an exceptional cation (nutrients) exchange capacity (CEC) therefore holding nutrients rather than them being leached from the top soils it also adds the value of aeration into the soil. Basically It forms a "reef" with many legions which become the home ground for microbial activity and increasing value to the natural soil food web.

The volcanic rock dust increases the availability of necessary trace elements and the clay binds the pellet as well as has an exceptional water holding capacity as well as having its own trace elements.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

South African farmers are caught up in a vacuum, a very one dimensional thought pattern and the answer to low yield is simply throw more chemical fertiliser- it all leeches straight through and causes huge problems to aquifers. Currently cost of production surpasses yield and agri business is a debt tsunami. Using the Biochar as a soil amendment holds fertiliser and more importantly the critical gasses in the top layers. The best way to convince a farmer to change his habits is to introduce his wife to the realities, she pretty much puts him straight! Here i am doing it through the agricultural colleges, slightly political but my tact is to catch em young!

 

I think all industrial farmers are caught in the same mindset and practices......with the same consequences.

 

One of the biggest issues is the duration of the production cycle in farming.  Where other industrial undertakings are able to match their production to available markets....only producing to established demand....farmers tend to roll the dice growing everything they can and hoping that the markets are there when the crops/livestock are ready.  They suffer from the added problem that their "products" are perishable or keep eating after they become market-ready.

 

I've always been a fan of financing arrangements for farmers that are outside of the conventional banking system.....in the interests of food and strategic security.  Where there are good reasons to do so (severe drought, regional infestations or diseases, etc) loan repayments should be suspended until the situation rights itself rather than allowing the banks to channel them into a downward debt spiral.

 

Your comments about educating wives as part of the change management process are interesting.  

 

One of our client groups (in my full-time professional role) comprises hundreds of automotive repair small businesses.  Trying to get the attention of the male business operators can be very difficult so we drive change through the other key influencer in most micro-businesses.....the female partner,  They usually work in the business on the administration side are usually much more receptive to new ideas......and we all know how it works when the women of the house want something to happen.

 

another great advantage is the Carbons ability to hold water and only release it as needed, in Australia i would imagine this would be of great benefit.

 

Being able to utilise biochar within my own operation is high on my list of aspirations and, you're right, it is particularly relevant in a country like Australia.

 

Gary, been getting huge energy from the stack emissions (syngas) especially on plastic and rubber tyres (low carbon though) while less energy and more carbon with wood (33%) and about 30000 btu per kg. 

 

Do you mean that you burn plastic and rubber tyres in the biochar machine?  How does that work from an emissions point of view?

 

How do you capture the heat in the stack?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

getting very exited with the development of a clay seed pellet.

 

the concept is that soil, how ever bad we conceive it contains all the necessary nutrients and trace minerals needed to sustain healthy plant life. Due to a history of exploitative farming techniques and over use of chemicals, soil has "gone to sleep". In other words the living organisms needed to exchange the locked nutrients from the soil to the plant are no longer there.

We have developed a pellet that is made up of-Biochar inoculated with EM, Mycorrhiza, volcanic rock powder, powdered bentonite clay and seed (in this case a mix of cover crop- White clover, rye and oat grass). 

 

The idea is not to deep plough the land as important gasses will be released but rather a light surface raking. The pellets are applied at the rate of about 500kg's per hector, the pellets protect the seed from various predators. Once initially watered the pellets dissolve and germination begins. During the process of root growth which is stimulated and vigorously increased by the presence of the Mycorrhiza the plant releases food fluids (exudates) into the soil at the root zone stimulating the effective microorganisms (EM) which in turn repels other pathogenic organisms. The Mycorrhiza also fights off non associated plants (weeds).

Biochar has a very large water holding capacity making this technique viable in low rainfall areas. Biochar also has an exceptional cation (nutrients) exchange capacity (CEC) therefore holding nutrients rather than them being leached from the top soils it also adds the value of aeration into the soil. Basically It forms a "reef" with many legions which become the home ground for microbial activity and increasing value to the natural soil food web.

The volcanic rock dust increases the availability of necessary trace elements and the clay binds the pellet as well as has an exceptional water holding capacity as well as having its own trace elements.

 

The idea of a seed pellet is not new (it's a Permaculture idea) but I've not known anyone to incorporate all of the goodies with it in the way that you've described.

 

What approach would you recommend for making clay seed pellets on a backyard scale?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

That sounds pretty good Luke.

A good quality clay will certainly help water repellant sand to "wet up" I see a lot of that around here as a result of high carbon residue from continuous cereal growing.

 

I agree.  I love the whole idea of packaging seeds with everything they need to sustain them.....just lying around waiting for enough moisture to kick start the whole deal.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The idea of a seed pellet is not new (it's a Permaculture idea) but I've not known anyone to incorporate all of the goodies with it in the way that you've described.

 

What approach would you recommend for making clay seed pellets on a backyard scale?

 

there was a chap in the 40's that did some great work with the pellets in Arizona his name was Lytle Adams, then of coarse the inspirational Masanobu Fukuoka incorporated it in his reforestation programs. 

 

I really believe the process i am working on will be a "silver bullet", i presented it to a group of soil scientists last week including one from the largest chemical fertiliser company in Africa- they could not fault the approach and are extremely exited about it. will keep you all posted.

 

as far as the backyard operation goes, i guess it depend on ones access to the ingredients- good old compost, clay (preferably good red clay) and the seeds and a bit of getting stuck in with your hands to mould the balls will work fine. There are loads of youtube sites promoting this. If you can get your hands on some powder Mycorrhiza (there will naturally be traces in your compost heap anyway) careful to not make the balls to wet in the beginning as it will get the Mycorrhiza going too early ( if you want to store the pellets for longer than 48 hours that is). a 12% moisture content is good. The compost should be aerated organic compost that is not fully decomposed as the micro organisms will have moved on.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Gary "What approach would you recommend for making clay seed pellets on a backyard scale?"

 

Look to the Technology for making Wood Pellets.

 

Seed companies have been encapsulating seeds in clay pellets for years.

 

Ball Seed, is one of them.

Edited by Old Prospector (see edit history)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I came up with this idea of incorporating all of the ingredients (compost, seeds, mycorrhiza, etc) in an empty gel capsule rather than clay.

 

I was getting quite excited by my new idea…..only to discover that it's not a new idea……and certainly not mine.  

 

I think it's a good one just the same….with some obvious benefits.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Speaking of ideas that are not new, I was reminded last week that using a clay slurry was once part of building good compost. the way modern compost is done today was called poverty compost in an old book I have and it had to be applied at 5 times the rate of proper compost for the same effect .

 

dried crushed clay is mixed with water in a tub and the waste material is soaked and coated in the tub as the pile is built. minerals can be added to the clay powder if there are some deficiencies.

 

http://foodgardengroup.blogspot.com.au/2014/04/composting-with-clay.html

 

I remember reading that some coarser grained material in the clay will encourage earthworms into the compost, they need grit to feed (no teeth)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Clay probably contains some of the nutrients that inert sand (and compost) doesn't……and who knows what else that facilitates the soil microbes that underpin the capabilities of healthy soil? 

 

One of the interesting things that I've become interested in soil.  I've always avoided the subject before….preferring to grow things using systems that didn't require soil.  I've been learning about soil science by listening to videos featuring Elaine Ingham……and about mycorrhyzae from Paul Stamets……and about land management from farmers like Gabe Brown.  I've become a passionate supporter of Mark McMurtry's iAVs (because the key to its efficacy is the soil science that underpins it) and the natural farming techniques of Paul Olivier.

 

In a post-religion renaissance, these are the sort of people who will be the new "saints"……and I'm hoping against hope that people get some time to really appreciate the work that they did before humanity extinguishes itself.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

so I have had only 4 inches 100mm of rain in the last 12 months But some nice showers in June and cloudy days which helps with winter growth.

 

the first winter cut of the grass and weed for this year, in this chop and drop experiment was last week.

post-3002-0-45786900-1438747551_thumb.jp

 

Today I noticed something unusual, I put my hand on the ground as i was picking some limes AND IT WAS WARM !! I felt a few other random patches thinking perhaps the sun had warmed it.

No, it is the cut grass that is warm, it is wet enough today to compost the green mulch and the old stuff from last summer that is underneath.

 

I grabbed my thermocouple and took a few measurements

 

the air temperature is 12.5oC

the ground at random points is 13oC

the green mulched areas are anywhere from 17 - 21oC in the top 5 cm of soil

 

that blows my mind because the cut grass is just a few millimeters thick and patchy, it must be just perfect timing and conditions to get things cranking.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hey Yahoo.....that's a veritable jungle for your part of the planet.

 

Your observations around the temperature of the decomposing grass is interesting.  We always know that plants protected the soil by keeping it cooler in heat extremes but who'd have thought that such a thin layer of composting grass would make such a difference.

 

Gary

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...

×
×
  • Create New...