A thorough, free, easy-to-read guide for ecological soil management which includes nutrient management, nutrient cycles, cover crops and other soil-improving practices. “Building Soils for Better Crops is a one-of-a-kind, practical guide to ecological soil management, now expanded and in full color. It provides step-by-step information on soil-improving practices as well as in-depth background—from what soil is to the importance of organic matter. Case studies of farmers from across the country provide inspiring examples of how soil—and whole farms—have been renewed through these techniques. A must-read for farmers, educators and students alike.” LINK: http://www.sare.org/Learning-Center/Books/Building-Soils-for-Better-Crops-3rd-Edition DIRECT DOWNLOAD: https://planetpermaculture.files.wordpress.com/2015/04/buildingsoilsforbettercrops.pdf
“Bacteria, fungi, protozoa, nematodes, earthworms, and what lies between—a healthy ecosystem underfoot is key to the vigor of life above ground. A leader in soil microbiology and author of the USDA’s Soil Biology Primer, Dr. Elaine Ingham will detail the complex interactions within the soil that make clean water, clean air, and life for higher creatures possible. Learn to foster and sustain the proper balance of soil organisms, and hear how compost tea can stimulate plant productivity and stave off disease. Dr. Ingham is also the founder of Soil Foodweb, Inc. and the former chief scientist for the Rodale Institute.”
I found this to be an excellent and completely fascinating introduction to the soil food web, I’d highly recomend it. This comes in 5 parts and is around 3 hours long in total, I know I’ll be listening to this one more than once thats for sure, check it out and be prepared to learn a lot from this fasinating woman.
I found this “resource for instructors” when browsing the net and thought it would be useful for all, teacher or not. The document is 700 pages long so I’ve not had a chance to review it all yet but it’s an outstanding free resource, it also proives a good structure for those to test their knowledge on organic growing. They are also pointpoint presentations and videos on the link below so be sure to check those free resources out too.
DIRECT DOWNLOAD: https://planetpermaculture.files.wordpress.com/2015/03/teaching_organic_farming_pdf.pdf
I came across a fantastic free ebook today, found on a website called Farming Secrets. It originally appears to be from the Sustainable Land Use department within the State of Tasmania. The full title is “Soil Alive: Understanding And Managing Soil Biology on Tasmanian Farms”. It looks extremely useful, I’m going to be printing it out to digest over the coming days, it’s a short one at 76 pages but looks jam packed with knowledge.
You can also find other free things on the link below.
An excellent interview with Mark Shepard talking about how he went about purchasing some land and turning it over into a productive polyculture that earns him a living, specifically focusing on how difficult it actually was. He uses great agroforestry techniques with special attention to planting annuals between rows or letting the animals in for pest control measures. I found this fascinating and very informative, real experience about the practicalities of what people call “permaculture”. If you think farming is going to be easy, sadly your mistaken.
“The only way to get a farm with no outside inputs is to imitate ecology. Imitating ecology is imitating your biome where you are. Having the full array of plants and animals that would have been there. But of course since we are humans and we have our own self interests, our food, nutrition, and economy in mind we pick the species that pick the best for us and we manage it like a natural system. And nature has never spent a dime on pest or disease control or fertility.”
With no experience in farming, the Sousek family left their urban life in Kent to run a farm powered by solar panels, a wind turbine and waste vegetable oil
Agriculture is responsible for almost 10% of the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions and a quarter globally. It doesn’t have to be this way, as farmers Paul and Celia Sousek demonstrate. Their commitment to organic farming without the use of fossil fuels demonstrates that far from contributing to climate change, agriculture can be part of the solution. I headed to Cottage Farm near Jacobstow, North Cornwall to see how on-farm renewables are enabling the Sousek family to fulfil their role as stewards of the environment as they cultivate a successful, family-run farm business.
It’s hard to believe that Paul and Celia Sousek, Farmer of the Year finalists in the BBC Food and Farming awards 2011, had absolutely no farming experience when they upped sticks and moved 300 miles West to Cottage Farm back in 2005. Unfazed, they embarked on their new livelihoods with a weekend course in Cows for Beginners and now oversee 50 hectares of land which is home to cows, sheep, hens and some very vocal geese. So why did the couple leave behind successful careers and the life they had built in Kent to take to the Cornish fields?
“That’s a simple one to answer”, says Paul. “I learnt about peak oil. Right on cue we then had the oil crisis in 2007, swiftly followed by the financial meltdown in 2008. Some believe that has all been resolved, but together with the ever worsening climate change situation, I think our problems are only just beginning.”
Continue reading “Cornwall’s Carbon Neutral Farm Offers Hope For Sustainable Agriculture”
Organic nitrogen gives new clue to biodiversity
Dated: 12 April 2006
Scientists have found that organic nitrogen is more important for plant growth than previously thought and could contribute to maintaining diversity in grasslands.
Until recently it was generally believed that the most important source of nitrogen for plants was inorganic nitrogen. However, researchers funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) from the University of Lancaster and the Institute of Grassland and Environmental Research (IGER) have found that not only can organic nitrogen be directly taken up by plants it is also used differently by different species, enabling nitrogen sharing and biodiversity.
By tagging organic nitrogen with stable isotopes researchers have challenged the long held idea that organic nitrogen has to be first converted into an inorganic form before the plants can use it. Their findings have significant implications in unfertilised, low-productivity grasslands where organic nitrogen often appears in greater concentrations than inorganic forms.
Professor Richard Bardgett, lead researcher at the University of Lancaster explained: “This research provides important new information about what happens to organic nitrogen in real ecosystems in real time. Tagging amino acids also revealed that different plant species prefer different sources of organic nitrogen. These preferences may be a way for plants and microbes to avoid competition with their neighbours for nitrogen when it is in very short supply, effectively enabling them to share nitrogen and maintain biodiversity.”