Sunday, December 1, 2013

Beyond Organic: It's all about SOIL

                  One huge part about being "Beyond Organic" is Soil! Soil means everything, you can have the best of the best, heirloom seed but if you don't have good, healthy, rich soil that seed doesn't mean squat. One of the big staples of industrial ag is yield, and that is a great thing to aim for but unfortunately most modern day agrarians follow the theory of German scientist, Justus Von Liebig who stated that nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium levels are the basis for determining healthy plant growth. Consequently most agrarians just see soil as a substance that can be manipulated, "you put NPK in and out comes yield!", That is unhealthy thinking, although Justus Von Liebig was a very intelligent man who has done wonders for the agrarian world, he failed to look deeper into the life giving community that lives in soil that is extremely necessary to produce great tasting, healthy, nourishing produce. I believe this concept of "higher yields" can be seen in many industrialized units of agriculture, I.E. animal production and marketing, But those are for another blog post! :)

                  The importance of soil is something that we can not afford to overlook any longer, soil is being lost in every increasing numbers, due to improper tillage, improper grazing and miss management altogether. Just recently me and my wife gained access to a new plot of land in which we have hopes of planting a nice size spring garden on next year. we studied the layout of the land and how the soil looked in different parts of the lot and we decided that on one side, where the soil was "ok" we would plant a mixture of alfalfa and red clover as a cover crop for the winter and on the other side we would try something we had never done before, we laid down about an inch of old straw and covered that with a layer of horse manure. We turned this manure/straw mixture every month or so and a few months went by and we now have about three inches of fresh new soil! With our management, We helped nature turn these two materials, manure and straw, into great looking, rich soil, filled with living creatures!

                                                                              3" of Fresh soil we helped nature create!
                  See, soil is not just a substance that we just need to grow a plant, it is the very essence of all living things! It is so fun to participate in the creation of soil! Most problems of soil depletion occurs due to one thing, Mis management, There are some very simple practices that any one can do to help grow this life giving habitat, soil!

1. Do not plow on steep hills where erosion would be caused
2. Study your land and give it what it needs
3. Start a compost pile, and add fresh compost to your soil bi-yearly
4. Practice No-Till planting, to secure helpful nutrients in your soil
5. Bring in beneficial bugs to help your soil
6. If grazing, practice "mob, rotational grazing" (Joel Salatin)

Remember to think about the health of the soil before the health of the plant! 

Healthy soil will produce a healthy plant, which will produce healthy produce, which will contribute to a healthy you!