Early Fall 2012
From The Ridge
This editorial is the second in a two part series on soil maintenance and development. Soil is the foundation of the farm; the foundation of the health for the plants and animals that live on it. A healthy and living soil is also basic to the health of the top of the ‘food chain’ …people.
In the last issue I spoke of the importance of organic matter and its ability to hold lots and lots of water. In this issue I will address the building blocks needed to build soil naturally. With tremendous insight and study on the topic of organic soil development Phil Nauta in his book, Building Soils Naturally, he provides a step by step approach to create a healthy organic soil. These principles apply to small lots or larger acreage even though his focus is on gardening.
A healthy soil needs more than just nitrogen, phosphorus, pot ash (NPK).
Thousands of organisms can live in one teaspoon of organic soil. As these tiny life forms eat and go through their life cycle they produce nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, copper, iron, calcium, magnesium, etc. All of these trace minerals and elements can be found in organic soils and are important for healthy plants.
Nauta, recommends the following six steps to create a healthy soil:
1. Water – is the transportation vehicle for nutrients to travel thru the soil…the soil’s life blood.
2. Organic matter – which not only holds water, but provides a medium in which the thousands of tiny organisms live.
3. Microbial inoculants – are additives enhancing the soil, providing diversity and stimulation to these tiny life forms thru bacteria, fungi, and protists. The protists family contains amoeba, paramecium, and other single celled organisms. For example: ocean kelp is an algae now manufactured into a popular organic fertilizer. It is known that algae produces the majority of the world’s oxygen.
4. Supplementing nutrients in the form of fertilization – which is derived naturally from mined rock and from plants. No where here is chemical fertilization encouraged as chemical fertilization tends to kill the life within the soil.
5. When bio-stimulants and micronutrients – are applied they tend to feed the microbes of the soil. They are frequently sprayed onto the plant’s leaves. Some of the best sources come from the ocean. Some of the other sources are molasses, humic acid, yucca, enzymes and vitamins.
6. Energy – in the soil can manifest itself through soluble salts, or in the atmosphere for example: a full moon helps to draw water in the plant, therefore, the best time to plant seed is in the second quarter of the moon, just before the full moon.
A naturally healthy soil is developed by many organisms and natural additives to the soil. Pastures have some different needs in the form of these organisms from forest lands. Soils need more than NPK to be healthy and full of life.
I encourage you to study your soil, crop and develop a ‘living’ healthy soil naturally.
Happy & Profitable Farming,