Posts Tagged ‘Soil’

Understanding soil quality: Part 5

Posted on: November 12th, 2014 by Katlyn Rumbold No Comments

Last week we discussed the harmful effects of unhealthy soil and what that could mean to us as human beings. And the findings were quite frightening.

So this week we will discuss our only hope for a healthy world as noted by an eminent French scientist and Nobel Prize winner Dr. Alexis Carrel. He published a book nearly 102 years ago titled Man the Unknown, which discusses that since soil is the basis for all human life, our only hope for a healthy world rests on re-establishing the harmony in the soil.

Dr. Alexis Carrel

Dr. Alexis Carrel

Today soils are tired, overworked, depleted, sick, and poisoned by synthetic chemicals. Hence the quality of food has suffered and so has health. Malnutrition begins with the soil. Buoyant human health depends on wholesome food, and this can only come from fertile and productive soils. Minerals in the soil, said Carrel, control the metabolism of cells in plant, animal, and man. Chiefly destroying the harmony reigning among mineral substances present in small amounts of air, water, food, but most importantly in soil, creates diseases.

If soil is deficient in trace elements, food and water will be equally deficient.

Carrel found that chemical fertilizers can’t restore soil fertility. They do not work on the soil but are enforcedly absorbed by plants, poisoning both plant and soil. Only organic humus makes for life.

Plants are great intermediaries by which the elements in rocks, converted by microorganisms into humus, can be made available to animal and man to be built into flesh, bone, and blood. Chemical fertilizers, on the contrary, can neither add to the humus content of soil nor replace it. They destroy its physical properties, and therefore its life. When chemical fertilizers are put into the soil they dissolve and seek natural combination with minerals already present. New combinations glut or overload the plant causing it to become unbalanced. Others remain in the soil; many in the forms of poisons.

Plants, said Carrel, that are chemically fertilized may look lush, but lush growth produces watery tissues, which become more susceptible to disease; and the protein quality suffers. Chemical fertilizers, said Carrel, by increasing the abundance of crops without repaving all the elements exhausted from the soil, have contributed to changing the nutritive value of our cereals.

Please note as this is our last installment in this particular series, we realize some of these stories began years ago, but we feel they still have a lot of value when looking at soil quality as it affects the circle of life. What other questions do you have regarding soil quality?

Until next time, happy trails!

Understanding soil quality: Part 4

Posted on: November 5th, 2014 by Katlyn Rumbold 1 Comment

To date we’ve learned that healthy soil leads to healthy vegetation, healthy animals, and healthy people.

But what if the soil isn’t healthy? How would that effect us, the animals, the vegetation?

Well, we’re about to find out. Nearly half a century ago, a man by the name of Andre Voisin authored a book “Soil, Grass & Cancer” which showed that soil fertility was directly linked to human and animal disease. He had already grasped the importance of the subterranean world and saw the hidden danger in oversimplified fertilization practices and the use of toxic chemicals.

Andre Voisin

It all started when Andre found that grass made it possible to obtain a ‘biochemical photograph’ of the soil when he was working with the Academy of Agriculture of France. He was then able to see that the mineral elements of the soil control cell metabolism in the animal and consequently in people too. It was found that the ‘dusts’ of the soil likewise control the proper functioning of the cells in man.

What must never be forgotten is that diseases are created chiefly by destruction of the harmony existing between the soil elements. The great tragedy of modern techniques is the complete disruption of this harmony by new cultural methods. It is up to us the farmers, the agronomists, the researchers, the scientists to figure out how to reestablish the harmony in the soil.

With that said, Andre writes (in his book):

“Increasing human population and the enormous pressure being exerted by organized masses of city-dwellers on powerless agricultural communities are gradually reducing the agricultural population which is forced constantly to increase its output, producing more food more cheaply, without any thought for its biological values. This result can be achieved only by the use of ever-greater quantities of mineral chemical fertilizers. It is impossible to go back, and it would be undesirable, as has been shown above by the many examples of the beneficial effect that fertilizer dressings can exert on the plant and on the animal. The fertilizer, however, must be applied judiciously which is not at present. Today, indeed, three times as much of all the elements in the soil is being removed, but generally only four, or at the most seven, of these elements are being replaced.”

The consequences of applying large quantities of nitrogenous fertilizers are serious, but when one works with the soil to produce healthy crops, that is when the highest yields could be reached.

Join us next week as we discuss our only hope for a healthy world as noted by eminent French scientist and Nobel Prize winner Dr. Alexis Carrel.

Until next time, happy trails!

What is biological farming?

Posted on: October 23rd, 2014 by Katlyn Rumbold 1 Comment

The science of managing soil, air, water, and residue with biology.

Since we’ve discussed our early beginnings and years of experience, I thought it was time to address what it is a biological farmer actually does. When it comes down to it, all farmers (biological, organic, conventional) are all working to achieve one goal. The goal of feeding the ever growing population and while practices may vary from farmer to farmer, the bottom line is still the same. Produce more with fewer inputs.

Corn grown biologically.

Corn grown biologically.

So how does a biological farmer go about managing soil, air, water, and residue with biology? By realizing everything works together.

They manage air by maintaining adequate pore space using proper calcium amendments and mechanically with iron and diesel. They manage water by draining excess water and building a water holding capacity into the topsoil with carbon (organic matter). They manage residue by choosing the tillage method that supports the greatest number of microbes per acre based on several criteria based on erosion, soil type, and climate. It is biology that drives tilth, nutrient efficiency, and proper residue decomposition for carbon and nitrogen sequestration.

Biological farming is not a single magic-bullet product or a single one-size-fits-all practice. It is a year-round effort to manage your soil’s biological profile so the microbes work for you. It’s about building organic matter, which in turn sequesters nutrients to be deposited in your “soil bank”.

We’ve noticed that if the above concepts are well implemented, nutrient efficiency can be greatly improved. Successful biological farmers are able to significantly reduce their rates of added nitrogen and phosphate.

Even more than a scientific art, biological farming is about profit, efficiency, and stewardship.

Until next time, happy trails!

Farm Favorite Friday: Keep calm and nature on

Posted on: October 17th, 2014 by Katlyn Rumbold No Comments

Keep calm and nature on!

I am so excited to introduce you all to John Mayernak and his guard dog Maggie for this week’s edition of Farm Favorite Friday (FFF). John hails from a farm town in Iowa, but now resides in a rural community in Illinois.

He thrives on feeding the soil what it needs to remain biologically alive. His favorite aspect is watching how Mother Nature can come full circle.

From the mouth of John:

John's guard dog, Maggie.

John’s guard dog, Maggie.

“I planted a perennial crop on a part of my worst acreage of my farm in Iowa. It was abused and misused and the renter couldn’t even grow a decent corn crop on this ground. So I tried a perennial crop hoping that nature would recover on this ground and turn it into something fertile and alive. I helped a bit with dry humates and soft rock phosphate, but the first three years I fought weeds, always dry, big cracks on the surface, a place you can’t even grow a decent corn crop!

Two years ago in early spring the clover appeared. I didn’t seed it, none of my neighbors seeded it, it just appeared, nature’s first beneficial invader. As time passed, the clover took over more of the hurt ground and within two years the whole “orchard” was covered in white clover, holding water by breaking up the top soil with roots, keeping the weeds away, and generally turning the patch into a perfect example of giving nature an opportunity, she will rearrange things to be beneficial and alive.

It was so amazing to me that I had to post a guard to make sure this slice of paradise wouldn’t disappear.”

Amazing what happens when we give nature an opportunity to do what it does best – continue the circle of life.

So who wants to share their favorite part of country living next week? Remember, it can be about anything that makes the farm/ranch life unique to you.

Until next time, happy trails!

Where is the future of agriculture heading?

Posted on: October 13th, 2014 by Katlyn Rumbold 4 Comments

Have you ever taken a moment to contemplate this? With so many other demands making it hard enough just to get through the day, this often times gets overlooked.

But not for Dave Larson. And even though he is no longer with us, his wisdom will remain with us forever in the form of one a many speeches, essays, and research. In fact he gives a very enlightening twist to the future of agriculture that I find quite interesting.

It really makes you stop in your tracks and think.

From the pen of Dave nearly 26 years ago:

“We are losing a plant or animal species to extinction every 60 minutes. We may lose, in the next fourteen years, twenty percent of all remaining species of plants and animals, according to the President’s Council on Environmental Quality. The activities of one species, MAN, are totally responsible for the ecosystem changes causing this devastation.

Further, our water, air and soil are being degraded and depleted. Soil erosion caused by mineral extraction, deforestation, and modern agribusiness practices will, within the next three decades, create the loss of one-third of the planet’s topsoil.

I used to hear statements like these and I totally disbelieved their truth, I visualized a long haired “hippie,” completely out of touch with reality, predicting either doom or gloom several thousand years into the future or the demise of a small snail somewhere in the Chicago River.

My understanding has changed! In fact, my position is now 180 degrees from where it was earlier. Four years of experimenting with my irrigation system, attempting to build a non-limiting environment for growing corn, helped me understand the error of my thinking. The changes in the ecosystems in my own soil astounded me!

During that time, I applied extremely high amounts of anhydrous ammonia (400#N/year), muriate of potash (960#/year), and triazine herbicides (at 1 1/2 times the normal rate) in an attempt to raise 300 bushel-per-acre corn with no cultivation.

I speeded up a process which I believe was taking place on every “conventional operated” farm in the world today. I destroyed virtually all the biological life in the soil. One could not even find an earthworm in my fields. I caused the soil aerobic zone to diminish to 1 1/2 inches. The soil became more difficult to work. Yes, I speeded up a process that normally takes 25-100 years into 3-4 years!

“Man against nature…That’s what life’s all about!” declared General Thomas Sands, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. I must admit that I had developed a militaristic attitude of being at war with nature as well. I realize in retrospect that I was a product of the thinking of Bacon and Newton and others who set forth a view of nature as raw material existing for the sole purpose of being exploited. I was further influenced by political and economical theorists like John Lock and Adam Smith who suggested that nature only had value when it was turned into something useful. It had become easy for me to justify the use of the earth in any way at all, as long as individual freedom, knowledge, and prosperity were the results.

I now agree completely with Rev. Wesley Granberg-Michaelson when he states the Christian faith in the Western World has become captive to the assumptions of modern culture which sever God from the Creation and subject the Creation to humanity’s arrogant and unrestrained power. Rev. Michaelson goes on to state that the materialism which has developed has constricted the arena for truth to be known and for certainty to be established. He says, “Now reality can only be proved rather than accepted by faith.” In other words, the true nature of the world can only be known through scientific method. This severs God’s relationship to the Creation in understanding of the modern mind. In short, nature is commonly understood today as an object unto itself, apart from it’s relationship to God.

In the first chapter of Genesis, verses 26-28, the account is related to God’s creation of man in his own image. God blessed man and gave him dominion over the earth. The biblical term dominion does not mean domination of nature by man. The biblical concept of dominions is connected to two other key ideas: covenant and stewardship.

Future of Agriculture

The concept of covenant deals with God’s covenant with man. This covenant began in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 1:28-29) and was renewed with Noah, Abraham, and Moses. The covenant specifically states that God will remain faithful to us and will provide everything we need to live. For our part of the covenant, we are expected to be faithful to God and to live in a loving relationship with Him and with our fellow creatures. In this, God expects us to take care of the land.

The biblical idea of stewardship has become identified with the concept of wise management. I now understand it to mean much more than just wise management. To me it is the process of learning from nature and learning to work in harmony with all of the natural ecosystems, including the ecosystems found in the soil. I understand my specific responsibility for stewardship in terms of renewable farming.

When I evaluate a specific practice in our farming operation, that practice must be profitable and it must be practical if it is to be implemented. I also know that practice must contribute to the integrity, the beauty, and the harmony of the bionic community. If it does not, it is wrong for me to implement.

Wendell Berry has written, “The family farm is failing because it belongs to an order of values and a kind of life that is failing.” According to Berry, the failure of the rural way of life is at root a failure to grasp the complexity of life on earth and the simple truth that our existence depends on how well we take care of the soil.

Dr. Calvin DeWitt, Professor of Environmental Studies at the University of Wisconsin, says, “Christian stewardship is a care keeping of the earth that works to preserve and restore the integrity of the created order, doing the will of the Creator, and seeking for the Creator’s kingdom of integrity and peace — a kingdom devoid of human arrogance, ignorance, and greed. Christian stewardship is so living on earth that Heaven will not be a shock to us.”

As I consider alternatives for the future of agriculture, it is my prayer that I will be given renewed ears and renewed eyes for the presence of God in all of life, and that my farming practices will all be more and more in harmony with the Creator.”

So, I’m leaving you with this — Dave’s future is here. Where do you see agriculture in the next 26 years?

Until next time, happy trails!

 

You want the dirt? We got it!

Posted on: October 8th, 2014 by Katlyn Rumbold 9 Comments

No, not that dirt. Dirt dirt. Soil dirt. You know the black stuff that makes crops grow.

From this day forward we strive to be your one-stop shop for all things dirt related and beyond. We’re so excited to join the social network to better connect with YOU — our friends, our customers, our family.

So sit back, grab a cup of coffee and enjoy the ride. It may be no surprise to many of you that we strive to lead the transition to biological farming by providing training and products to innovative farmers. We believe biological farming is the future of economical, high-quality food production and the foundation for healthy soil, healthy plants, healthy livestock, healthy food, and healthy people.

Dave and Carolyn Larson had no idea the legacy they were about to start when AgriEnergy Resources was founded.

Dave and Carolyn Larson had no idea the legacy they were about to start when AgriEnergy Resources was founded.

And this is our story.

It all started 27 years ago in 1987 when one innovative, American farmer founded AgriEnergy Resources to provide fellow agricultural producers with the educational opportunities, quality soil fertility products, and support services necessary for implementing renewable farming systems. For it was that year that Dave Larson started a legacy that would continue well beyond his lifetime.

This legacy would soon spread from Princeton, Illinois to several of the continental United States as well as countries outside of the U.S.

Much like all of us that are currently living out his legacy here at AgriEnergy Resources, Dave had a love for the land. Guess you could say farming was in his blood.

In 1977, he embarked on an exhaustive study of alternative philosophies and methods for agricultural production. He researched and applied principles offered by universities, other soil fertility specialists, and proponents of the Biological Theory of Ionization. This research, coupled with his own observations of the laws of nature, led him to an understanding of a group of basic principles. These principles, when applied to production agriculture, became the basis of what is now biological farming and the basis of what Daily Dirt is really about.

So, yes, we will bring you the Daily Dirt of the agricultural world, but Daily Dirt is so much more than that. It’s about a lifestyle. An all consuming faith. A passion.

It’s about the innovative, American farmer.

Until next time, happy trails!

Oh and to keep updated on the Daily Dirt find us on Facebook, Twitter, and/or sign up for our GroundWork emailing list. We’d love to connect with you in one way or another!