Soil building or soil depletion

Dirtmechanic

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@Dirtmechanic not having to deal with RKN i have for years corresponded with a friend in the middle part of FL who contends with those creatures.

his best result so far, is predatory nematodes, he has to reinoculate once every 2-4yrs but that has done well for him.

he also speaks of fungal problems which he deals with mostly be growing and harvesting and then removing plants as soon as they are done with the main thrust of their life cycle. he does not grow certain plants during the hottest parts of the season but waits until cooler weather to grow them, etc.

my own experiences is that some issues are just left alone. they don't need to be treated. tomatoes here get late blight. i don't mind it, by the time they're getting it we've usually got enough.

we have clay and we have plenty of rain at times too. fungal issues to me say transition to food forest as the forest soil is more naturally fungal dominated and that's how it will be in any warm climate with adequate moisture. you can work with clearings within such a system to grow vegetables and fruits, but i would avoid that as much as possible because the more time you have bare soil exposed the more likely it gets washed away by heavy rains.

the further south you go the less soil carbon you will be able to keep naturally. that is why places that have jungles tend to turn sterile when people use them to repeatedly grow agricultural/annual crops instead of growing forest/perennial crops instead. combined with overpopulation and poor control over the forest you end up with places like Haiti... it can be recovered in time, but it takes a lot of effort to do it.
Thats why I am so entertained by creating a biochar from the woods here at the house. It works against those losses in this type soil.
 

flowerbug

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Thats why I am so entertained by creating a biochar from the woods here at the house. It works against those losses in this type soil.
sure, that will help somewhat. :)

for help with fungal problems i would be nurturing worm life as they are bacteria factories.

for squash borer problems i try to grow resistant plants, they do get damage and i do lose a few here or there but enough keep surviving that they finish up ok. rotation to different locations is needed. we'll have to do that this year.
 

hoodat

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Monsanto did a number on BT when they incorporated it into GMO corn. Many creepy crawlers became immune to it and it is now less effective than it used to be.
 

flowerbug

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Monsanto did a number on BT when they incorporated it into GMO corn. Many creepy crawlers became immune to it and it is now less effective than it used to be.
when you apply a selection pressure to a pest population if it isn't 100% effective eventually it becomes useless. i much prefer encouraging diversity in predators and diversity in plantings. that way if you lose one particular planting to one pest or disease you're still likely to get some return for your efforts.
 
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flowerbug

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i hadn't read through some of the older posts in this thread, but if you have RKN you can also get predatory nematodes which will help with that issue. no poisons needed.

also there was other mentions of salts building up, that often happens because many chemical fertilizers have salts. plants use salts of various kinds, but you don't want too many. in an arid climate where you are irrigating the most common source of salts besides the fertilizers will likely be whatever water you are using or pumping from the ground. to keep fields productive they will have to use a large amount of water once in a while to leach the salts from the soil. then they ship that salty water away somehow...

in my studies of biochar, it seems to be useful, but you do have to charge it up before using it and you really don't want to use it without the ground being covered as that added black will raise the temperature of the soil by quite a bit. so you want it well managed and not just applied and then left to blow around or wash away. most monocultural farm practices are not geared towards cover crops and probably are not all that well suited for biochar use either.

if you were doing grassland grazing for beef production applications of biochar would be pretty good IMO as that means that most of that carbon applied would be kept in place and sequestered for many hundreds to thousands of years (char breaks down very slowly if it is not mechanically degraded). a prime example of this sequestering is in the grasslands of the plains which had enough burns to increase the char, but the grass was also left in place and not disturbed so the topsoil built up very well there (the grass captured any dusts that were being blown around, plus was a great feed stock for the herds of animals which roamed and then made deposits as they passed by).
 
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hoodat

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On Otay Mesa I had what all the books say is ideal soil. It was originally a rocky sand beach a million or more years ago. You could tell that by all the rocks in it. They were rounded off by tumbling in the waves. The sand was relatively coarse, adding to good drainage and no matter how deep I dug I never hit anything else. It had been ocean zone chapparal for eons, followed, after it was built up into houses, by a grass lawn so in spite of being basically sand it still contained a fair amount of nutrients. After I began gardening it and adding various organic materials, it had developed about 6 inches of sandy loam on top. You could grow just about anything in it. There was a drawback to the excellent drainage though. It meant that nutrients were being leached out by the water so I had to keep adding them. I followed grandpas advice and didn't try to feed the plants directly. He used to say, "Feed the soil and the soil will feed the plants". One nutrient I never worried about was nitrogen. There is plenty of it in the air and if your soil is alive and healthy the organisms will add it in sufficient amounts for sustained growth. It hurt to have to leave that behind but hopefully the new owners will benefit from my work.
 

seedcorn

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plenty of nitrogen in air but not available to plants-especially to nitrogen lovers.
 

hoodat

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Soil organisms, both bacteria and funguses, incorporate nitrogen into their bodies and it is released when they die. Since many bacteria have a life measured in hours, that's a pretty fast turnover. Of course we all know that legumes have knots on the roots that offer protection to nitrogen fixing bacteria that take nitrogen from the air and feed it to the plant. It's the closest any plant comes (one step removed) to taking nitrogen directly from the air. Worms also have some nitrogen in their castings (poop).
 
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