With spring comes thoughts of dirt. More specifically, soil. One of the recent projects is making biochar to work on improving the long term fertility of our fields. All winter, every education opportunity has reinforced the concept of feeding the soil to improve the plants to improve the livestock. If only the plants get fed (as with commercial fertilizers) the soil is left impoverished and the plant is unable to get the richest and most complete nutrition possible. Feeding the soil helps the plant grow strong and healthy–more disease and disaster resistant. Hence the forray into biochar as a way to improve the delivery of the nutrients in the compost we are spreading.
Last weekend Mark gave a quick class on soils, giving an overview to prospective and looking-to-improve gardeners on quick and easy ways to create long-term fertility in their soils. One of the things brought up by a participant was a recent article in Mother Earth News addressing animal manure contaminated with herbicides that don’t break down in composting. Those herbicides then work detrimentally when the contaminated compost is spread. After discussing what one would have to go through to guaruntee chemical free compost, we decided one simply has to do the best one can with what one has. An interesting follow-up came on Monday on the Fresh Air program on public radio. It included a discussion of the high levels of pharmaceutical drugs passing through people into the sewage system that is not removed in treatment plants. The ramifications of that are not clear yet. It all reinforced to me, again, how important it is to use the most natural means possible to deal with health issues from plants to animals to humans. There are consequences for every choice and there will be ramifications to the use of synthetic supplements and drugs vs. “natural” and herbal choices.
So, a few thoughts on dirt as we watch the trees bud and the grass grow green.
A final picture: I always love seeing the results of feeding the soil by pasturing animals. The brighter green is where chicken tractors ran last fall. We notice that where the tractors ran the grass is greener longer in the spring and fall. The pasture is thicker in those areas and tolerates heat/drought better.