Sunday, March 30, 2008

Soil organisms help ranchers

Intense, low duration grazing builds soil vitality, and increases soil organic matter.

Formulaically, the process described by Manske is very simple; what happens as a result is not.

A rancher chooses three pastures on which to graze the cattle. Starting in the first pasture, the cattle graze for 15 days, and then move on to the next pasture. This is repeated and the cattle find themselves in the third pasture.

Once the cattle leave the first pasture, the soil organisms go to work, converting the organic nitrogen into mineral nitrogen and feeding the plants, building their crude protein.

“Just by changing the management from focusing on dry matter poundage to managing those soil organisms, you can increase the productivity of your land,” Manske said. (Source)

Well observed.

Rhizosperic soil can get awfully puny under long duration grazing. Topsoil pales and topsoil depth is lost, but not to sediment discharge or wind erosion. The in-situ transformation of topsoil to not-topsoil results in the discharge of soil carbon to the atmosphere. The good news is that, unlike wind erosion, water erosion, sheet erosion, or gully erosion erosion, this yet-to-be-named variant of topsoil erosion is reversible.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Washington State Biochar Research

Washington State University researchers will produce biochar (a residue potentially used as a soil amendment) from low temperature pyrolysis of biomass materials. The biochar will be tested for its potential to store carbon, evaluated for any growth effects on plants in the greenhouse, and assessed for economic impacts. Research on biochar has shown promise in long-lasting carbon storage and improved crop production. This research will be the first rigorous study of biochar use in agricultural soils in this state. (Source)

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Stop Polluting My Biosolids

We would be well served if we stopped manufacturing unnecessary body soaps and scents. They end up in sludge, er biosolids and, as is necessary, on the land, where they can have unintended consequences. Let's just stop manufacturing the offending molecules.