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Re: Poor soils

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  • Mark Moodie
    Hi Jeff What are the right situations? ie what could one do to make those nutrients available, and what to retain them on such clays? Mark
    Message 1 of 12 , Oct 16, 2006
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      Hi Jeff

      What are the right situations? ie what could one do to make those nutrients
      available, and what to retain them on such clays?

      Mark

      On 16/10/06 8:56 pm, " Jeff Schulte" wrote:

      > Clay is an important component of soil as it is the only mineral portion of
      > soil that does hold on to nutrients (in the right situations).
    • Jeff
      ... nutrients available, and what to retain them on such clays? Mark ... portion of ... certain cover crops like buckwheat and borage are known for bringing
      Message 2 of 12 , Oct 17, 2006
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        >
        > What are the right situations? ie what could one do to make those
        nutrients available, and what to retain them on such clays?
        Mark

        > On 16/10/06 8:56 pm, " Jeff Schulte" wrote:
        >
        > > Clay is an important component of soil as it is the only mineral
        portion of
        > > soil that does hold on to nutrients (in the right situations).
        >
        certain cover crops like buckwheat and borage are known for bringing
        nutrients to the surface with their deep roots, and efficient
        absorptioin, composting of certain leaves (like oak for calcium)
        also brings nutrients into the system, clay will naturally hold onto
        these nutrients once in the system until they are leached, eroded,
        or taken up. Rain or irrigation in excess can leach nutrients by
        simple dilution. It is important to avoid tile draining and excess
        irrigation. To combat erosion you should leave either permanent
        cover or dead organic matter so the soil isn't bare. Eventually,
        nturients taken up by palnts and harvested will need to be replaced.
        They can be replaced by manure, compost, or cover crops.

        Soil leaching also takes place in sandy soils without organic
        matter, or clay soils that are cracked deeply (suffering water
        stress) and lacking organic mater. I can't overstress the benefits
        of organic matter in all soils.
      • Robert Monie
        Hi Mark, A Texas farmer named Malcolm Beck explains in his 2002 interview exactly how to reinvigorate dead clay-based soil. See
        Message 3 of 12 , Oct 17, 2006
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          Hi Mark,

          A Texas farmer named Malcolm Beck explains in his 2002 interview exactly how to reinvigorate "dead" clay-based soil.
          See http://www.texaslegacy.org/bb/transcripts/beckmalcolmtxt.html. His method was to let all the "weeds" (which must have included some deep accumulators like sorrel, yarrow, burnet, dandelion, plantain, yellow mustard) grow unimpeded to their maximum height and plant the heaviest cover crops he could find, such as Sudan grass and giant clover (eventually reaching 8 feet high!) He did this entirely without seedballs or hardwood residue, using techniques that go back to the "ley" farming movement of late 19th century England (though he may not have been consciously aware of their origins) and before.

          Fukuoka, Bonfils, and Pain are not the only access points to nature's fecundity. The human race has discovered and forgotten over and over again, age upon age, how to finesse plant growth from the soil. In ley farming, the idea was to let very deep rooted grasses and legumes grow undisturbed in the initially "barren" soil, for a period of at least 4 years. Try it and see if it works! Mix seeds from a member of the long-rooted "bunch grass" family such as orchard grass with chicory and with agressive-rooted yellow mustard and monster-rooted red and sweet yellow clovers. Throw in a dash of vetiver grass (not too much! The roots may not decay quickly like those of orchard grass). In the summer, sow Sudan grass very thickly. Seed and reseed, as much as the soil can stand for at least 4 years. Occassionaly poke around in the ground with a sharp stick, disturbing the root and stem growth as a burrowing or nibbling animal might. This "punctuated" surface disturbance will
          create more humus than just letting the cover growth alone. Christine Jones, in a classic essay on soil building, "Creating New Soil" explains how great soil results from the interaction of animals and people (along with air, sun, water, and geology). The significant part of this interplay between animal and plant does NOT necessarily rest in the depositing of animal manure (a point further developed by Eliot Coleman, Scott Nearing, Ian Jones, and Michael Melendrez--all of whom have used essentially vegan techniques). Christine Jones' essay deserves to be read and re-read at least a few dozen times, and the accompanying picture of bunchgrass with its stunningly massed roots is worth a thousand words. See http://www.creatingnewsoil.blogspot.com Each of Jones' paragraphs could be expanded into a chapter or a book. How does nature work to grow plants in the field? The roots of thickly massed grasses and legumes decay, producing food for microbes. The microbes produce
          humus, which stores biologically available nutrients for the food plants. The tall grasses such as Sudan grass decompose, adding compost to the mix. The legume roots fix nitrogen. No need for seedballs, hardwood, or the philosophical speculations of Jean Pain, Marc Bonfils, or even Fukuoka.

          The approach outlined here can be expanded to include direct composting and microbial innoculation. Over the years, along with the cover crops and deep rooted ley crops, these will all improve soil fertility. If you are historically minded, go back and read the classics of "ley" farming, such as Newman Turner's "Fertility Farms" and "Fertility Pastures" (specifically on "herbal leys"); Robert Elliot's "30 Years Farming on the Clifton Park System"; Hugh Corley's "Organic Farming"; and related books such as A. Guest's "Gardening Without Digging"; Gerard Smith's "Organic Surface Cultivation"; J.E.B. Maunsell's "Natural Gardening" (which advances the theory that soil can be improved by creatively disturbing it with a spading fork--here we have human beings mimicking the pulsed nibbling of little animals on the roots and stems); and Leonard Wickenden's "Make Friends With Your Soil" and "Gardening with Nature."

          All these predate Fukuoka, and most predate J Rodale's "organic" movement. One day, some astute historian/archeologist/anthropologist may trace the progress of natural approaches to farming through the ages. If uncovered, the evolution of natural farming will appear in many shapes and guises, most having nothing to do with seedballs. Nature is polyphonic and multiple; it knows many ways (more than humans can ever know) and does not speak in only one voice.

          Bob Monie
          River Ridge, LA
          7 miles outside New Orleans in Zone 8
          Mark Moodie <mark.es@...> wrote:
          Hi Jeff

          What are the right situations? ie what could one do to make those nutrients
          available, and what to retain them on such clays?

          Mark

          On 16/10/06 8:56 pm, " Jeff Schulte" wrote:

          > Clay is an important component of soil as it is the only mineral portion of
          > soil that does hold on to nutrients (in the right situations).






          [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
        • Forest Shomer
          Hi Bob, Thanks for your excellent words. Fukuoka-san came upon his knowledge by innovating, by thinking outside the box , i.e., by not being limited to
          Message 4 of 12 , Oct 18, 2006
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            Hi Bob,

            Thanks for your excellent words. Fukuoka-san came upon his knowledge
            by innovating, by 'thinking outside the box', i.e., by not being
            limited to orthodoxy. In these changing times we are wise to gather
            nectar from not just one source, but emulate the honeybee, feeding
            deeply from one source, then another, and another, to nourish the
            hive (our time) and the brood (next generation) with continuity.

            Unfortunately, the link to Jones' essay is "404--not found" . Do you
            have a copy that you can send as part of a text message on this list?
            Or if it is very long, perhaps you could send as an attachment
            directly to people like me who request it. Thank you,

            Forest
            Port Townsend, WA, USA



            >Posted by: "Robert Monie" <mailto:bobm20001@...?Subject=
            >Re%3A%20Poor%20soils> bobm20001@...
            ><http://profiles.yahoo.com/bobm20001> bobm20001
            >
            >Tue Oct 17, 2006 2:38 pm (PST)
            >
            >
            >Fukuoka, Bonfils, and Pain are not the only access points to
            >nature's fecundity. The human race has discovered and forgotten over
            >and over again, age upon age, how to finesse plant growth from the
            >soil. In ley farming, the idea was to let very deep rooted grasses
            >and legumes grow undisturbed in the initially "barren" soil, for a
            >period of at least 4 years. Try it and see if it works! Mix seeds
            >from a member of the long-rooted "bunch grass" family such as
            >orchard grass with chicory and with agressive-rooted yellow mustard
            >and monster-rooted red and sweet yellow clovers. Throw in a dash of
            >vetiver grass (not too much! The roots may not decay quickly like
            >those of orchard grass). In the summer, sow Sudan grass very
            >thickly. Seed and reseed, as much as the soil can stand for at least
            >4 years. Occassionaly poke around in the ground with a sharp stick,
            >disturbing the root and stem growth as a burrowing or nibbling
            >animal might. This "punctuated" surface disturbance will
            >create more humus than just letting the cover growth alone.
            >Christine Jones, in a classic essay on soil building, "Creating New
            >Soil" explains how great soil results from the interaction of
            >animals and people (along with air, sun, water, and geology). The
            >significant part of this interplay between animal and plant does NOT
            >necessarily rest in the depositing of animal manure (a point further
            >developed by Eliot Coleman, Scott Nearing, Ian Jones, and Michael
            >Melendrez--all of whom have used essentially vegan techniques).
            >Christine Jones' essay deserves to be read and re-read at least a
            >few dozen times, and the accompanying picture of bunchgrass with its
            >stunningly massed roots is worth a thousand words. See
            ><http://www.creatingnewsoil.blogspot.com>http://www.creatingnewsoil.blogspot.com
            >Each of Jones' paragraphs could be expanded into a chapter or a
            >book. How does nature work to grow plants in the field? The roots of
            >thickly massed grasses and legumes decay, producing food for
            >microbes. The microbes produce
            >humus, which stores biologically available nutrients for the food
            >plants. The tall grasses such as Sudan grass decompose, adding
            >compost to the mix. The legume roots fix nitrogen. No need for
            >seedballs, hardwood, or the philosophical speculations of Jean Pain,
            >Marc Bonfils, or even Fukuoka.
            >

            --


            [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
          • Robert Monie
            Hi Forest, Somehow the URL for Christine Jones Creating New Soil got mangled. Here are two direct ways into her essay:
            Message 5 of 12 , Oct 18, 2006
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              Hi Forest,

              Somehow the URL for Christine Jones' "Creating New Soil" got mangled.
              Here are two direct ways into her essay: http://www.creatingnewsoil.blogspot.com

              or

              go to http://www.google.com and enter "Christine Jones Creating New Soil."

              Try to pull up a version that shows the photographs, because the shot of the root system on bunchgrass is fantastic. Four years of bunchgrass, along with deep rooted red and yellow clovers, chicory, burnet, yellow and white mustards, oilseed radish, with a little vetiver, sorrel, and plantain thrown in will transform most soils. The grass and forbe roots will loosen compacted soil (virtually "double digging" it), eventually decompose (compost BELOW GROUND), leaving a layer of microbe-rich humus, and if you plant tall plants like Sudan grass that flourish above ground, you will get still more organic material near the surface.

              THEN, after 4 years of "prepping" you can try the Fukuoka short Dutch clover (or New Zealand clover) polyculture over soil that has been so beautifully prepared for it. (Of course, some soils might be so leached out that they initially also require mineral supplemental from rock powders, separately prepared compost, or other sources.)
              .
              Bob Monie


              Forest Shomer <ziraat@...> wrote:
              Hi Bob,

              Thanks for your excellent words. Fukuoka-san came upon his knowledge
              by innovating, by 'thinking outside the box', i.e., by not being
              limited to orthodoxy. In these changing times we are wise to gather
              nectar from not just one source, but emulate the honeybee, feeding
              deeply from one source, then another, and another, to nourish the
              hive (our time) and the brood (next generation) with continuity.

              Unfortunately, the link to Jones' essay is "404--not found" . Do you
              have a copy that you can send as part of a text message on this list?
              Or if it is very long, perhaps you could send as an attachment
              directly to people like me who request it. Thank you,

              Forest
              Port Townsend, WA, USA

              >Posted by: "Robert Monie" <mailto:bobm20001@...?Subject=
              >Re%3A%20Poor%20soils> bobm20001@...
              ><http://profiles.yahoo.com/bobm20001> bobm20001
              >
              >Tue Oct 17, 2006 2:38 pm (PST)
              >
              >
              >Fukuoka, Bonfils, and Pain are not the only access points to
              >nature's fecundity. The human race has discovered and forgotten over
              >and over again, age upon age, how to finesse plant growth from the
              >soil. In ley farming, the idea was to let very deep rooted grasses
              >and legumes grow undisturbed in the initially "barren" soil, for a
              >period of at least 4 years. Try it and see if it works! Mix seeds
              >from a member of the long-rooted "bunch grass" family such as
              >orchard grass with chicory and with agressive-rooted yellow mustard
              >and monster-rooted red and sweet yellow clovers. Throw in a dash of
              >vetiver grass (not too much! The roots may not decay quickly like
              >those of orchard grass). In the summer, sow Sudan grass very
              >thickly. Seed and reseed, as much as the soil can stand for at least
              >4 years. Occassionaly poke around in the ground with a sharp stick,
              >disturbing the root and stem growth as a burrowing or nibbling
              >animal might. This "punctuated" surface disturbance will
              >create more humus than just letting the cover growth alone.
              >Christine Jones, in a classic essay on soil building, "Creating New
              >Soil" explains how great soil results from the interaction of
              >animals and people (along with air, sun, water, and geology). The
              >significant part of this interplay between animal and plant does NOT
              >necessarily rest in the depositing of animal manure (a point further
              >developed by Eliot Coleman, Scott Nearing, Ian Jones, and Michael
              >Melendrez--all of whom have used essentially vegan techniques).
              >Christine Jones' essay deserves to be read and re-read at least a
              >few dozen times, and the accompanying picture of bunchgrass with its
              >stunningly massed roots is worth a thousand words. See
              ><http://www.creatingnewsoil.blogspot.com>http://www.creatingnewsoil.blogspot.com
              >Each of Jones' paragraphs could be expanded into a chapter or a
              >book. How does nature work to grow plants in the field? The roots of
              >thickly massed grasses and legumes decay, producing food for
              >microbes. The microbes produce
              >humus, which stores biologically available nutrients for the food
              >plants. The tall grasses such as Sudan grass decompose, adding
              >compost to the mix. The legume roots fix nitrogen. No need for
              >seedballs, hardwood, or the philosophical speculations of Jean Pain,
              >Marc Bonfils, or even Fukuoka.
              >

              --

              [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]






              [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
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