Minimize your Leaching lo$e$!

 

The rainy season is finally here and it is already replenishing much needed water to our thirsty environment. Our work is also a bit lighter as our need for irrigating is supplemented by frequent rainfall. This continuous flow of water also comes with some challenges. Excessive leaching of nutrients is a key contributor to rising cost of production at this time of year.

The loss of essential nutrients directly affects plant health and its natural ability to resist pests and diseases. This heavy mobilizing of nutrients away from the root zone could also lead to increased soil acidiy and reduce plant available phosporus. Furthermore Aluminium and Managanesse toxicity could further compromise crop productivity.

The problem is not necessarily the rain but rather how well we manage these natural variables. Providing that rainfall frequency remains around average, there are cerain preventative approaches that we could consider to for better nutrient management.

 

Choose the right type of fertilizer

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Synthetic fertilizers are usually in a form that is readily absorbed by plants, consequently this also leads to rapid   leaching away from the root zone, into our water ways. To achieve maximum yield farmers may often repeat fertilizer applications following prolonged rainfall.

 

Slow release fertilizers take the form of granules or as compost. These granules work similar to their synthetic counterparts, however they differ based on their rate of solubility over time. Similarly compost acts as a nutrient bank, slowly liquidating its valuable assets throughout the crop cycle.

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Additionally compost conditions your soil’s physical structure and allows water to move freely while minimizing loss of topsoil.

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There are also soluble fertilizers in either organic or synthetic forms.

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These two types of fertilizer share some similarity as they both replenish essential plant nutrients. Additionally however compost tea also inncoculates benefical microorganisms and plant growth regulating substances (PGR’s) which aid in pathogen reduction, nutrient absorbtion and boosting plant’s defence mechanisms against pests and diseases.

 

We recommend our compost tea to be diluted using a 1:1 ratio with dechlorinated water and applied weekly. Also for top-dressing we recommend our vermicompost  to be applied once every 2- 3 weeks.

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Vermi-fertilizer for plantain production!

A little bit really goes a long way with our ‘Vermi-fertilizer’! Our goal is to provide you with a superior product that could sustain your farming needs.

Our entire plantain experiment did not last until the end due to some unforeseen circumstances, however, we are still pleased to share with you some of our success.

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Most conventional farmers remain convinced that organic farming would not be able to sustain yields comparable to non-organic farming! However, we are constantly trying to challenge this notion by putting our products to the test!

It is important that you start off with healthy planting material. likewise, a soil test is as good as a health check because it provides you with a status report of the potential of your soil.

Furthermore, you should prepare your soil by feeding it with materials that would naturally stimulate both macro and microorganism activity.

Our ‘Soil Builder‘ did exactly that for us and gave our plantain trees that extra boost with no negative effects on our soil or plant.

A moderate ‘Top-Dress‘ at midway and just before fruiting with some pure vermicompost completed the job!

Vermicompost reinvigorates the soil by nourishing and inoculating it with microorganisms that engage in solubilizing nutrients and pathogen reduction.

We feel confident that we can produce and consume food that is free of synthetic chemicals.

Stay tuned as we will be providing you with more results on some of our other experiments.

If you are interested in trying some of our products or getting your soil tested then leave us a message and we will get back to you.

 

All earthworms are not created equal

All earthworms are not the same! Really? Yes really! 🙂 I often find myself clarifying this notion during my encounters with different people but don’t worry, I once held the same view.

There are currently over 3600 species of earthworms reported and they also vary in colour and size. These are further subdivided based on their distribution in the soil profile and how they feed. Epigeic earthworms live in the uppermost 5-10 cm of the soil surface and are considered as phytophagous because they feed primarily on decaying organic matter. They are typically found in areas with high organic matter deposits and good soil cover. They are usually dark pigmented and sensitive to light and touch. They are not considered as the burrowing type because they have minimal direct influence on soil structure. Epigeic earthworms are however highly suitable for vermicomposting.  Endogeic earthworms live beneath the soil surface in lateral burrows as deep as 30-40 cm and a are considered as geophagous because they primarily thrive on humus rich soil.  They play an important role in detoxing the soil of contaminants and excreting pH balanced soil which helps improve soil fertility. Anecic earthworms live in vertical burrows which go deep (90cm) into the soil profile. They consume both soil and organic matter and are therefore regarded as geo-phytophagous. Their feeding behavior greatly contributes to soil fertility as they continuously pull organic matter to lower soil horizons. Some studies have mentioned their use in the field of vermicomposting, however, the most suitable are epigeic. It is important to note however that not all epigeics are suitable for vermicomposting. I guess you may be asking, “Which ones are the best for vermicomposting?” Well, look out for our subsequent article which will characterize these worms.

M. Martin

OASATT Embraces Worm Farming

Worm farming opens the door to many possibilities. Two immediate products derived are earthworms and vermicompost. Earthworms can be used as fishing bait, fish food, chicken food or it can be processed into a powder as a source of livestock protein (value-added). Vermicompost can be used as a soil amendment and an organic fertilizer. It could also be used for making a liquid plant supplement commonly known as compost tea. This is a great way to start if you are thinking organic food production.

This concept has been embraced by a group of farmers who have something in common, organic farming. OASATT, the Organic Agriculture Stakeholders Association of Trinidad and Tobago are involved in a variety of production activities such as livestock production, bee keeping, herb and vegetable production and composting. They all share the view that foods can be produced without the use of synthetic agricultural inputs. Is that really possible? Can we really grow food without synthetic inputs? Well OASATT believes that if you are serious about your health and the environment, then you should start working with nature.

A key ecosystem service of earthworms in our environment is that of organic waste recycling. The concept of vermicomposting is based on this fundamental service. Our vermiculture course at Boissierre Greens Earthworm Farm has pushed OASATT one step closer to sustainable farming. They will soon be able to transform their crop and livestock waste into vermicompost, which is a natural source of essential plant nutrients, growth regulating compounds and beneficial microbes. They will also have earthworms for protein and to help maintain their soils. Lastly, they will have our support in becoming successful worm farmers 😉

 

M. Martin