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Re: [fukuoka_farming] Organic Matter versus Biochar

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  • Nandan Palaparambil
    Dear Dieter, Nice to see your postings after a gap. It looks to me that farmers may not be able to wait for a long number of years for their land to be
    Message 1 of 3 , Nov 8, 2009
      Dear Dieter,

      Nice to see your postings after a gap.

      It looks to me that farmers may not be able to wait for a long number of years for their land to be fertile. This is the reason why common farmers reject natural farming and go for organic farming. But once they keep doing organic farming with compost or whatever and ultimately reach natural farming, it should be very good. I am sure, you will also agree with this..

      The same goes with ponds also. Once the land has enough organic matter, it can store large amounts of water, but during the interim period ponds/swales may be good and phase them out, once the land is ready.

      Is it possible to post some photos of your farm?


      --- On Sat, 11/7/09, Dieter Brand <brand.dieter@...> wrote:

      From: Dieter Brand <brand.dieter@...>
      Subject: [fukuoka_farming] Organic Matter versus Biochar
      To: "fukuoka_farming" <fukuoka_farming@yahoogroups.com>
      Date: Saturday, November 7, 2009, 8:47 PM

      As I said before, the best way of improving soil (and water-retention)
      is by adding organic matter.  The organic matter must be returned to
      the soil as _a living substance_ and not as a partially burned or
      pyrolized _biologically dead_ charcoal substance.  If soil organisms
      are fed by organic matter they will multiply without adding terra
      preta or anything else.

      In clay soil, Biochar (terra preta) has the tendency to reduce
      water-retention.  In places where the soil dries out completely during
      the dry season, it can even make the soil water-repellent.

      The following document sums up some of the problems with Biochar:


      For a number of years I have been testing for how long annual plants
      will survive without any water (no rain, no irrigation) at high
      temperatures (around 40 C or 100 F).  I found that, in clay soil with
      high organic content, annual plants such as some varieties of beans
      and tomatoes will survive for 3 or more months without adding a single
      drop of water.  Perennials such as asparagus will even survive for 6
      or more months without any water.  These soils have been improved for
      up to 12 years by organic matter _only_ and without any external soil
      amendment whatsoever.

      The improved soil has very good water-retention and functions like a
      water reservoir.  Instead of building swales, ponds, etc., in part of
      your land, you use your entire land to function as a water reservoir.
      Putting in swales or artificial lakes with a bulldozer is very
      destructive.  And even if you go to the extra expense of coating your
      lake, the water can still disappear through cracks forming in the dry
      clay or evaporate at the surface.

      Fukuoka’s type of Natural Farming does not consist in following
      specific methods such as not plowing.  He very clearly stated that we
      must develop our own methods depending on local conditions and not
      follow what he did.  He did, however, urge us not to think about what
      else we can do to our soil, but instead to concentrate on what we can
      do without.  To me, Biochar, like a whole range of other commercial
      soil amendments, clearly falls into the category of DO-NOTs.



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