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a good example how to help a tired field along

Discussion in 'Composting & Soil Building' started by flowerbug, Feb 16, 2018.

  1. Feb 16, 2018
    flowerbug

    flowerbug Garden Addicted

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    http://www.soilsforlife.org.au/_blo...ng-carbon-flows-to-repair-a-degraded-claypan/

    often in the winter months i'm searching around for examples and things to read about soils and how to restore distressed fields.

    to me the whole process is facinating, but fueled by simple principles. grow something as you get any chance. keep animals from grazing until it is somewhat established and provide some rest periods that are closer to mimicking what natural grazing would do...

    it works. the above example happened during a time of relative drought.

    and the good thing i'm seeing here or there is that there are some people using rotational grazing for cattle around here. as more people see it and learn about it the chances for improvement continue.

    the various case studies provided on the above website are good reads for winter too. :)
     
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  2. Feb 17, 2018
    digitS'

    digitS' Garden Master

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    Citing academic studies, Wikipedia: "A. nummularia is typically found in lowland areas such as floodplains in both the Northern and Southern hemispheres, favouring saline clay soils."

    Old Man Saltbush is a native Australian plant.

    So, what they are saying is that a native shrub, useful to livestock, can aid in rehabilitating damaged land. Interesting that Wikipedia says that it starts poorly from seed. That's a good reason for them to use transplants. And, the carbon "flows."

    An "Old Man" Atriplex, eh? For a moment I thought that it might be referring to the orach (Atriplex hortensis) that grows in MY garden o_O. Do you suppose that the Australians came up with that name? There was a linguistics article I saw the other day that was on the Australian tendency to give things nicknames ... hmmm Old Man, eh?

    Steve
     
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  3. Mar 1, 2018
    flowerbug

    flowerbug Garden Addicted

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    i'm just a huge fan of rehabilitation of any land. before and after pictures are a big bonus. :)

    the cedars of Lebanon were used to build ships and are pretty much gone, but you can restore that area to green covered forests if you practice some simple techniques. one of the biggest issues is the free range grazing of goats which will eat almost everything. if you keep grazing things down to nothing for a hundred years and give it no time to recover you end up with desert scrub or barren lands. when the area is arid on top of that it can take quite some years to get it covered again, but it can still be done. people have been demonstrating this in many areas already. a little discipline, a little work and the area gets green again.
     
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  4. Mar 1, 2018
    digitS'

    digitS' Garden Master

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    Populations may have to be displaced. That would mean not just populations of goats but people, or people within a specific economy.

    It might be that some of the desert shrub species would be especially suitable for rehabilitation as in Australia.

    Grazing pressure is interesting. The highways across the Columbia Basin have fencing to keep livestock out. On one side is white sage. On the highway side of the fence is white and black sage. Cattle eat the black sage until it dies so they destroy that plant population.

    The British established logging industry everywhere to cut wood for shipbuilding. My Canadian ancestors were noted as shipbuilders on passenger lists - a father and son. They arrived on the St. Lawrence nearly 200 years ago. One of their children was born in Maine.

    I'm thinking, "why were they in Maine if they were building ships on the St. Lawrence?" The answer is probably that they weren't building ships; they were loggers. I wouldn't be surprised if those US trees were pirated but that may just be me trying to make these guys just as much the renegades as some on the other side of my family ;).

    Steve
     
  5. Mar 1, 2018
    flowerbug

    flowerbug Garden Addicted

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    it's already being done and works, demonstrated in many places. fence the goats in, bring them food, or fence goats out of areas and replant or just let native seeds stocks return the area to plant cover, within some number of years you have trees again and with them come ground covers, grasses, etc. you just have to keep the goats from over grazing again. rotational grazing where you only let the animals graze for specific periods is then used to keep the area going.

    some trees are well known for their abilities to be grown and then chopped for their greens/feed value to animals. chop and drop, used as mulches, some are nitrogen fixers so will supply nutrients to the soil and help other plants out too. this is all well known stuff by now. you just need people to have the will to do it. that could restore millions of acres of what is now barren lands (that used to be forested) to either grasslands, forests or a mix. there just has to be the will to do it.
     
  6. Mar 1, 2018
    thistlebloom

    thistlebloom Garden Master

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    My ears always perk up when somebody says goats....

    Taking care of land is work for sure, and you're right about the point of having the will to do it Flowerbug.


    I don't know much about eco systems and have such a little experience with even the basics, but this I DO know, (since you mentioned goats, haha,) goats are eaters, and when left to manage themselves are very destructive.

    I have two wethers, they are technically pets and horse companions, but we also put them to work clearing the underbrush in our woods. They need to have their portable pen moved frequently so they don't target the tree bark, but so far I'm pretty pleased with the job just the two of them have done.
     
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  7. Mar 1, 2018
    digitS'

    digitS' Garden Master

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    Oh Gee, FlowerBug.

    Do you realize that people in some places will cut down a tree to harvest its fruit?

    The decision is made that falling the tree is less arduous and dangerous than climbing the tree. The fruit is carried away on the back as there may be no roads for miles. No way to bring in ladders.

    These people have few resources. It may not be even such a good idea for them to be eating the fruit since their diet is deficient in protein but they can have a change in carbohydrates ... at least, that day. Otherwise, they may just be eating cornmeal and hot pepper or rice and ginger.

    Meanwhile, trainloads of coal are daily scalped from land and shipped across oceans to the highest bidder. We are just a step above rubber barons exploiting not only land and trees but people essentially in slavery. Annual death tolls of young men at 1 in 10 or worse, shrugged off with training counted as a corporate expense.

    Steve
     
  8. Mar 1, 2018
    ducks4you

    ducks4you Garden Master

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    I think we see some very good stewardship here in the US, but every place where you have to maintain the land, you either ruin it and move on, or find a way to keep it going. My ~3 acre North Pasture was corn when we looked at our property in August, 1999. They told me that there were 5 acres, but I said, No, there are 2 acres and somebody's corn field.
    Anyway, I fed only hay for the first year and my (at that time) herd of 5 horses seeded the corn field. Right now it is recovering from the big 2012 drought and some smaller droughts. I depend up on it to feed my 3 horses for part of the year. Yes, I do ride on it, but I don't want them on it when it's wet. I reseeded part of it and I have been piling up soiled bedding bc 1/2 of my hay this year is 2nd cutting and contains a LOT of pasture seeds. Some of that will be transported and spread out in the North Pasture. Yes, it is labor intensive, and I have been working on it during the winter. Right now I am attacking burdock. In December, at our office complex 2 offices bought new furniture and I asked for their packaging cardboard, which fills the bed of, yes, the truck that I STILL haven't sold. It isn't making my truck dirty, so I don't care, but it is keeping the cardboard dry. I have been removing burdock gone to seed under the fence. The first picture is from the south side of the north pasture 25 feet from the house. Yes, I KNOW that there is still burdock, but it is inside of the north pasture, and should be gone by the end of the month. I have put down cardboard and dumped on top of it.
    S side of N Pasture burdock fenceline cover, 2018.jpg
    I have to pull out, use a knife to cut open and place the cardboard ahead of time and I hold it down with bricks so that it won't blow away.
    S side of S Pasture burdock fenceline, 2018.jpg
    It isn't that I don't and won't use herbicide, just that if the temperature isn't right, if the wind isn't calm and if it isn't spraying right you don't kill it. I noticed with even withOUT cardboard, where I have piled up soiled stall bedding I have been able to kill a great deal of burdock. I have about 4 carboard boxes from shipping tables and I have a section on the S side of the S pasture fencing where the burdock is thick. After removing the burdock There, I will be using those.
    It is ALL about stewardship and it takes time.
    The English used an area called the "commons" which was farmed, but allowed to be grazed for 1/7 years to refertilize it.
    My north pasture needs more fertilizer, but I think it's gonna take grass clippings from the yard spread out to fix that.
     
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  9. Mar 1, 2018
    digitS'

    digitS' Garden Master

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    Just relative to the ground nearby: "By the late 1970s in the Palouse, soil erosion had removed 100 percent of the topsoil from 10 percent of the cropland, along with another 25 to 75 percent of the topsoil from another 60 percent of that land." USDA. The Nature Conservancy of Washington notes that 99% of the native grassland is gone. That's the history so far and it takes quite a 180 to turn around losses like that.

    I once listened to a young guy say how erosion didn't matter in the Palouse, an area of over 18,000 square miles, because the ground moved downhill where it was easier to farm. He didn't say anything about the streams and rivers downhill and what that soil did entering those bodies of water. His ag professor looked a little uncomfortable at the comment but the guy is likely to be farming still.

    Of course, if resources are removed, carted off and shipped elsewhere or burned, the resource doesn't remain to be managed for or by anyone who might be around in the future.

    Steve
     
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  10. Mar 2, 2018
    flowerbug

    flowerbug Garden Addicted

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    yes, goats can clear up a field of almost anything, but of course like many animals they'll eat the good stuff first if they can. which doesn't really help a field improve in diversity unless you rotate graze them and give the popular plants time to recover.

    we have a small amount of grass/lawn left here and i can observe a miniature version of selective grazing there too. the rabbits will come along and eat the plantains, clovers and even some of the dandelions. you'd think we'd sprayed it for weeds and weeded it, but they do it for us. as soon as the spring crocuses and tulips come up in the nearby gardens they'll gladly switch over to eating those instead.
     

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