Creating Dynamic Soils
Creating dynamic soils is not difficult - you just have to get the basics right and then pay attention to the detail. Start with some simple testing, get your base minerals in abundance, get your biology cranking and let the Plants, Soil and Atmosphere do the rest.
Bringing Soil to Life
Assess your soils
Decide on your program
Address the minerals
Fuel the soil biology
To create dynamic soils, it is a good idea to do some basic testing. Soil, plant and microbial testing are not precise, so don't make big decisions on a single test. What is more important than any individual test is the trends over time. Watch the changes to see what affect you are having.
We suggest starting with:
A basic soil mineral test and one that gives you Total Nutrient Values
A soil biology test such as Soil Foodweb
A plant herbage test
A Visual Soil Assessment (VSA) - probably the most important
Do one of these each year, possibly more with the herbage and VSA
Track the results
If your tests show large deficiencies in the mineral content of both your soil and plant then it is probably time to add minerals into your system. We believe that the first step is to correct the Calcium levels and do that while increasing the biology. This can be achieved by adding lime and compost. We follow William Albrecht's suggestions of the mineral content of soils.
Recommendations made based on Base Saturation:
Calcium - 50-85%
Magnesium - 5-15%
Potassium - 2-5%
Sodium - 0.2-0.5%
Soil Biology is the most important element of dynamic soil management. It is essential that you have thousands of species and billion in number. Soil Foodweb is your best source for information on Soil Biology.
The main groups of organisms that are at work in your soil are:
Each group has many functions to keep the soil-plant relationship working. For more information to to www.soilfoodweb.co.nz
Precise Composting Methods
Precise Composting Methods are achieved by utilising on-farm and imported materials along with correct recipes and careful monitoring and management. This results in the best possible input for your farm's biological engine.
There are numerous methods for achieving precise compost results. The important issues are having specific recipes, and accurate monitoring and management practices. Contact us for more information or to help you design a composting system for your farming operation. You can also purchase our e-book A Simple Guide to Starting Your Compost for an excellent step-by-step guide you can refer to time and time again.
Farm Specific Plant Extracts
Farm Specific Plant Extracts are simple water or pressed extracts that contain important biological foods to help keep a healthy biological population. They are made from on-farm resources and added to your general fertility program.
Every plant contains very specific mineral and biological nutrients. Your farm's unique needs will determine exactly what plants you should be planting and harvesting for your plant extract program. Contact us for more information and to help you design a plant extract program for your farm. You can also purchase our e-book A Simple Guide to Farm Specific Plant Extracts to help guide you on your way.
Appropriate Crop Rotation
Appropriate Crop Rotations are important if you are cropping or market farming. Each plant in an agricultural system gives and takes different mineral and biological nutrients. Having the correct progression of plants in your system is key to plant and soil nutrition and health.
Accurate Grazing Management
Accurate Grazing Management consists of having the right combination of plants in your pasture and moving your animals around your farm at the appropriate rate. This varies with the type and number of stock, soil types, climate and personal style.
Here at Chaos Springs we run dairy grazers. We are currently on a round of 60 to 150 days depending on the season. These long rounds give plants a chance to go to seed and roots to develop deep into the soil. The long covers protect the ground and improve the biological function of the soil. There are many benefits to going to long rotations which are concepts that are taught through Holistic Management Principles. More information
Soil energetics is the circuitry of the soil/plant system. Most people understand that soil minerals contain positive and negative charges. But soil energetics goes beyond simple charges to the interactions of all the vibrations that exist in soils, plants and the atmosphere. Phil Callahan did extensive research on the vibrational energy of plants, soils and animals.
Many theories and systems exist for managing the energetic system of agriculture. Biodynamics, as described by Rudolph Steiner in 1924, is probably the best known method. Although we are only beginning to understand the importance and power of this aspect of soil management, we believe it is essential to take into account the energetic component in your soil management plan.
Applying Soil Amendments Dry
Adding soil amendments in dry form is a common practice in most farming systems. Our suggestion however is that the only time to add dry soil amendments is when there is a big deficit. If your soils are in need of more than a ton of a particular mineral per hectare, then dry application is probably your best choice. This is mostly true with Calcium, Magnesium, Phosphorus, Potassium and possibly Sulphur. For all other elements liquid application is best, and even your major elements can often be corrected through liquid applications. Realise we are not talking about liquid fertilisers but just the delivery method. We believe fertilisation is best done with fine particle products in liquid suspension in combination with biological foods.
Applying Soil Amendments as Liquids
We believe the application of minerals and soil nutrients in liquid is the most efficient and economical way to improve your soil for many reasons:
Liquid applications can be applied to the leaf and soil at the same time, improving nutrient uptake.
Mixing fine particle minerals and biological foods together in liquid gives a more even distribution of material. This is especially true with trace elements as such small amounts are used.
When correct combinations of liquids are used at the right time they can enhance the natural photosynthesis process, taking the minerals and biological foods deep into the soils through the root system of the plant. This process, known as liquid carbon, can quickly build top soil from the bottom up and create humus.
Applying your soil amendments little and often is easy in a liquid suspension system such as the Cyclone Multi-Task