[permaculture] [Fwd: Re: [SANET-MG] nutrition in a bottle or a bag? ( was: have british food academics gone rancid?)]

Lawrence F. London, Jr. lfl at intrex.net
Sun Jun 24 05:38:09 EDT 2007

-------- Original Message --------
Subject: Re: [SANET-MG] nutrition in a bottle or a bag? ( was: have british food academics gone rancid?)
Date: Sun, 24 Jun 2007 05:21:57 -0400
From: Lawrence F. London, Jr. <lfl at INTREX.NET>
Reply-To: Sustainable Agriculture Network Discussion Group <SANET-MG at LISTS.IFAS.UFL.EDU>
Organization: Venaura Farm

Joe Nessim wrote:

> Here's a link to a posting by Steve Diver to a permaculture list that I 
> sometimes go back to when things look depressing... describes the 
> importance of humic acids in soil through the addition of compost and 
> organic matter. There are some good further references, plus some talk 
> on leonardite and rock dusts.
> http://lists.ibiblio.org/pipermail/permaculture/1997-November/004330.html
> I have never seen a problem where plants suffer nitrogen deficiency 
> because of poorly made compost, and I don't think it's because the 
> compost I make is that good. It just looks as if our soil is so poor, 
> that anything added to it improves its quality.

I'm trying to do 4 acres all at one time and control weeds as they emerge, postponing planting crops
in the process. I will order cow manure from a dairy farm, usually calf barn manure and shavings
from 1 year to 1 week old, all mixed. I also order tandem loads of rock dusts from any of several local quarries;
granite fines being the cheapest and easiest to get. With my skid loader I mix the manure/shavings with the rock dust
and spread it a bucket at a time along the lengths of my raised beds. After this is done I will rototill everything in
then hill up the wide raised beds. And let it sit, watch for weeds and let the manure and wood shavings rot. After
hilling/bedding one or more extra times I will then plant crops, usually greens or squash to start with.
I would prefer to make the beds then plant red clover in them to grow while the manure/shavings rot and the rock dusts
release micronutrients. Red clover exudes a substance that enhances VAM activity, important in crop rotations.
A 1995 article on this by Brendan A. Niemira is here:
"Other workers have shown that certain natural, plant-produced chemicals can
stimulate the existing VAM to higher levels of activity.  These chemicals were
originally derived from red clover, a popular sequence in crop rotations.  This
may shed some light on why rotations are effective w/regard to VAM."

Here's an interesting article on release of rock phosphate:

One on chitin:

and ARS News Bulletin:
Boosting organic matter in soil creates a healthy environment for soil-dwelling bacteria that suppress weeds.

What I am saying is that I would rather let the compost work off in situ, especially as it will be in contact with rock
dust and the synergy between them is important as micronutrients released by fungi then nourish the microorganisms that
decompose manure and wood particles, as well as all the invertibrates and insects that are important to soil health
that aid in the removal of harmful pathogens in it. More carbon will remain in the soil by applying rock dusts and 
tilling fresh manure and biomass into them followed by permanent notill raised bed cropping (after you've dealt with 
weeds as much as possible first).

> I myself would appreciate finding a list that correlates between 
> specific problems and specific rock dusts. Maybe Lawrence L. could add 

I assume you don't mean problems caused by rock dusts but problems that are cured by them. Certainly you will be adding
to your soil the array of micronutrients contained in the rock dust of your choice that are listed with percentage of
concentration in the MSDS the quarry will provide you. If you need more potash you might select pyrophyllite fines for
example, granite for something else, volcanic tuff for other elements. Maybe most folks would do just as well using
local quarry fines as mail ordering quantities of greensand and azomite for potash and minerals. That would certainly be
cheaper and you could put huge quantities of it on your land and derive benefits far beyond micronutrient amendment,
tilth and water holding capacity being two of the more important ones.

There are a few above. Constant slow release of micronutrients from rock dusts is important to soil and plant health and
it makes produce taste much better, with more nutrients important to human health. There's your answer to the
perennial question as to whether organic foods are healthier for you than conventionally-grown. They are but I'd have to
spend a lot of money on lab tests to prove it. People living in certain high altitude regions in the far middle east
drink a cloudy water, full of super fine rock particles, from mountain streams and live to be quite old and quite healthy.

> some input here. That way I would feel that the cost of the operation is 
> worth the experiment. I sometimes do trials in small pots, but I can't 
> say that I've seen something that seems more significant than the 
> addition of compost and the build up of organic matter. I also have to 
> hope that if there are benefits seen in small plants in pots, they will 
> somehow apply also to trees in our orchard.
> Joe

Your orchard will benefit greatly from the application of rock dusts to your soil.
Bring it in by the tandem load, rent a loader and spread it, till it in then mulch
your field with hay. You will see the improvement in your fields. Adding organic
matter and rock dusts go hand in hand.

Lawrence F. London, Jr.
Venaura Farm
lfl at intrex.net

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