[permaculture] [SANET-MG] soil organic matter in tropical vs. temperate soils

loren luyendyk loren at sborganics.com
Sun Jan 2 21:52:51 EST 2011

A-Ho Sal- 

After all, isn't Protracted and Thoughful OBSERVATION one of the most useful principles of permaculture?  Even Elaine Ingam relies on looking at the soil and the compost to tell its health.  70% cacao is the benchmark, your compost and soil should look like dark chocolate and smell rich.  If it doesn't yet- add organic matter, simple.  Add as many different types of OM you can find, all the "weeds" and such are doing their job of creating soil, just help em along a little by assisting in their decomposition.  Plants will tell you what they need, and the types of "weeds" you have 
is a good indicator on what micro-nutrients may be lacking in your 
soils, or what nutrients are in excess.

IMHO- lab analysis can help to determine micronutrient deficiencies in soils, something that is harder to spot by just looking.  Microscope analysis is definitely useful in determining the ratios of micro-critters in your soils- which determines plant health.  But if you don't have one, oh well.  

My take home message from all lab analysis I have heard from, SFW and other more traditional labs, is the same- add organic matter.  Preferably diverse compost.  The diversity of feedstock determines the diversity of critters- bacteria, fungus, protozoa.  Knowing what eats what helps too...  and we are back to Observation- maybe with a microscope this time...

Loren Luyendyk
(805) 452-8249

> Date: Sun, 2 Jan 2011 14:47:36 -0500
> From: venaurafarm at bellsouth.net
> To: SANET-MG at LISTS.IFAS.UFL.EDU; sals3 at COX.NET; permaculture at lists.ibiblio.org; marketfarming at lists.ibiblio.org
> Subject: Re: [permaculture] [SANET-MG] soil organic matter in tropical vs.	temperate soils
> On 1/2/2011 12:50 PM, sals3 wrote:
> > IMHO that's why I think the best soil test for my trees is taking you
> > hand and move back the mulch and picking up a hand full of dirt and look
> > at it. dig around and look how deep it goes . Do the trees look stressed
> > can you see fungus doing its job can you see the little clumps of rich
> > dirt alive and can you see wood in different stages of decay. pruning's
> > you took last year gone new pruning's so strong before turning to soil
> > in different stages of decay. every thing on top turning into soil, the
> > ground eating it up. you can see it. smell it . different kinds of
> > mushrooms, bugs and worms you see branches turning to dust with a little
> > pressure. you can see it working. after all that talk about soil test
> > IMHO you can tell a lot by just looking. . look at a forest floor and
> > look at your floor they should look the same maybe yours may be even
> > richer. NO hoarding yet sustainable. living . it should go on forever.
> > hope I'm right . what a nice set up and it was here when I got here all
> > set up to work for me but not good enough for big ag. who thinks he
> > needs to lab make dna changed life forms mixing dna from where ever into
> > what ever mixing up life on earth and they can not control it and they
> > are polluting the whole earth with their abominations. give me natural
> > living soil any day . .
> That and infinite variations on what Sal has said should work for most 
> people. The farms that have very deep rich black, humus-rich dirt don't 
> have much to worry about other than keeping GMO's, chemicals and all 
> categories of pesticides off their land plus implementing natural 
> strategies to deflect predatory insects, disease and weed pressure and 
> maintaining fertility levels; Great Pyrenees dogs for gopher, vole and
> deer control (with adequate fencing).
> <>
> Look at this great video on a mainland Chinese family who emigrated to 
> Canada to start and successfully run an oriental vegetable farm, using 
> migrant Mexican labor housed on site, sanctioned by their government.
> Look at that loose black dirt - see him disk under previous crops 
> preparatory to new plantings. Look at the appearance and size of the 
> napa and bok choy, acres and acres of it and it all has the same 
> excellent quality. This is a must see (free) video for vegetable market 
> farmers:
> Hulu - Earth to Mouth - Watch the full feature film now. - Sent using
> Google Toolbar
> http://www.hulu.com/watch/196596/earth-to-mouth?c=News-and-Information
> Earth to Mouth
> Feature Film|41:36|
> Wing Fong Farm in Ontario boasts 80 acres of succulent Asian
> vegetables. Here Lau King-Fai cares for young shoots, with the help of
> her son and migrant Mexican workers. It's a long way from a tumultuous
> life in China and an oasis of peace for 'Ma.'
> <>
> I don't have black 12' deep prairie dirt but I do have red Georgeville 
> silt loam dirt turned tan to dark brown with OM, 12-16" deep, and its 
> reliably productive and will remain so through notill or minimum till 
> strategies, light cultivation to remove weeds, naturally cycling through
> successive weed communities as cover crops providing OM, weed control 
> and soil moisture retention.
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