Eco Soil Building Panel


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Ulrich Hack, Hack Farm; Chris Boettcher, Bob Kerr, and Roger Rivest. Facilitated by Phillip Woodhouse

“Don’t treat your dirt like dirt!!” These four organic producers, with a wealth of knowledge will discuss how to build the optimal soil. They will discuss healthy soils, soil structure, compost, cover crops, tillage systems; healthy eco-systems, and much more!

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  • Hack Farm
  • Eco Soil Building Panel

    1. 1. Ecological Day GBFW 14 Soil Building Panel  Participants: Ulrich Hach, Hack Farm Christian Bob Boettcher Kerr, Kerr Farms Roger Rivest, Keystone Grain Facilitated by Phillip Woodhouse
    2. 2. Hack Farm  The Farm is located near Kincardine and North of Hwy 9, an area that seems to miss a lot of summer rains due to the lake effect.  The Farm is 900 acres in 1 piece, plus some nearby rented fields.
    3. 3. Hack Farm Farm Situation  About 50% of the Farm are droughtprone sandy soils.  Being in the snowbelt translates into being in the rain-shade in summer (lake-effect).  Windy  Soil area due to the lake. prone to wind erosion.  Fertility challenges on sandy soils.
    4. 4. Hack Farm  The Farm is a cash crop operation, with a herd of 70 beef cows to help maintain fertility.  The Farm is Organic and Demeter certified and uses the biodynamic principle of the closed Farm organism.  That means we strife to produce all our fertility needs on the Farm.
    5. 5. Hack Farm 916 acres  Of crops and pasture  Crops  Hay, include: Spelt, Soybeans, Oats, ForagePeas, Rye, Green Peas, Millet, Flax, Corn, Clover-seed
    6. 6. Hack Farm Organic Since 1982  We came from a Demeter Farm in Germany, that was converted in 1967.  In 1982 we came to Canada and converted to organic and Demeter.  In 2004 we bought additional land and converted it.  The rented parcels were converted as we got them, starting in 2000.
    7. 7. Hack Farm Soil Health  Crop rotation and the green-manure crops are the main tools for soil health.  They get enhanced by the use of our homemade biodynamic Preparations.  The manure is composted prior to application  Animals are a big asset for longterm fertility
    8. 8. Hack Farm Green Manure  Red clover is best if sufficient moisture  If moisture is not sufficient, it can enhance Quackgrass population.  Oats and forage peas are an alternative, as they can still grow with cooler temperatures with the fall moisture
    9. 9. Hack Farm Green Manure Crops  Clover  Sweet clover  Rye  Oats  Peas  Tillage Radish or winter canola  Buckwheat
    10. 10. Hack Farm Green Manure Crops  Clover  Sweet -Beautiful soil structure Clover -Deep root  Rye -Low temperature growth  Buckwheat - Fast germinating when warm  Oats, Peas  Clover for seed to add fertility  Tillage Radish, Canola, Oilradish
    11. 11. Hack Farm Crop Rotation  Our crop rotation is not fixed, as the soils (sand to clay), drainage and weed pressure vary considerably
    12. 12. Hack Farm Crop Rotation  Hay Compost  Hay Compost  Hay Summer-fallow  Spelt Red Clover  Soybeans  Rye Red Clover Compost  Millet
    13. 13. Hack Farm Crop Rotation Continued  Spelt  Red Red Clover Compost Clover  Flax  Spelt Red Clover Compost Red Clover  Soybeans  Millet Clover?  Mixed Grain Underseeded to hay
    14. 14. Hack Farm Considered Changes  Red and Sweet clover, Ryegrass Tim.  Spelt Red clover  Soybeans Rye  Rye Seeded down  Red and Sweet clover, Ryegrass Tim.  Spelt Oats, Peas, Canola, Red Clover  Soybeans Rye, Oats  Millet Sweet Clover
    15. 15. Hack Farm Considered Changes Cont.  Barley Underseeded  Red and Sweet clover, Ryegrass Tim  Spelt Red Clover  Red Clover Rye, Oats  Soybeans Rye, Oats  Millet Sweet clover  Oats Underseeded
    16. 16. Hack Farm Avoid Compaction  Start working the soil shallow, and slowly go deeper 2 passes within 24 hours dries out the hair-roots of quackgrass  Plowed  Plowed clover leaves best seedbed ground has less weeds than chisel-plowed
    17. 17. Hack Farm Weed Control  Blind harrowing is most effective  Later harrowing mainly gets the smaller weeds  For scuffling row-crops, set the cultivator close to the row (from 12” down to 5”)  Front-mount  Mirror  Late makes control easier or guidance system for rear mount scuffling before canopy closes
    18. 18. Hack Farm
    19. 19. Hack Farm Rotate to Break Weed Cycles  Cool season annual  Warm season annual Mustard Velvetleaf  Biennial Peppergrass  Perennial Quackgrass  Mustard can not compete in wintergrain or hay fields
    20. 20. First cut hay
    21. 21. Hack Farm
    22. 22. Hack Farm
    23. 23. Hack Farm Mixed Grain
    24. 24. Hack Farm Soybeans
    25. 25. Rye
    26. 26. Hack Farm Red clover after Rye
    27. 27. Boettcher Family Farm
    28. 28. Boettcher Family Farm  Located S/E of Brussels, Huron County on the edge of the Stratford plain.  Soil types range from: Perth Clay Loam Brookston Black  Have Clay Loam Muck in low lying areas farmed this land with his wife Gabriele and their 5 children since the early 1980’s.
    29. 29. Boettcher Family Farm  After a health crisis they switched from conventional agriculture to biodynamic/organic farming in the early 1990’s.  Lost faith in conventional agriculture.
    30. 30. Boettcher Family Farm  Run a 430 workable acre mixed operation.  Main livestock component is a flock of 400 breeding ewes and their +/- 600 lambs.  Crops – Grow spelt, soybeans, oats, rye, experiment with canola, and 5-8 acres of vegetables.
    31. 31. Boettcher Family Farm
    32. 32. Boettcher Family Farm
    33. 33. Boettcher Family Farm
    34. 34. Boettcher Family Farm
    35. 35. Boettcher Family Farm
    36. 36. Boettcher Family Farm
    37. 37. Boettcher Family Farm Crop Rotation  Was developed to balance the needs for the livestock, field crops, and soil building simultaneously.  To build up soil fertility and humus content, they grow 2 years of an 8 species forage mixture for grazing and hay production.
    38. 38. Boettcher Family Farm Crop Rotation Cont.  At the end of year two after a 5 T/acre compost application, the forage stand is worked in ahead of Fall Spelt seeding.  The third year spelt is underseededto double-cut red clover.  Fall of year three – lamb grazing
    39. 39. Boettcher Family Farm Crop Rotation Cont.  Year four produces a crop of oats/peas which is harvested.  Bin run oats is broadcast and disked into the year four oat stubble in August.  Green oats is grazed in the Fall.
    40. 40. Boettcher Family Farm Crop Rotation Cont.  Year five sees soya beans planted and grain rye seed is broadcast and disked into soy stubble in Fall of year five.  In year six, rye is underseeded in the Spring to an 8-way forage mix again.  In the Fall, this new forage seeding can be lightly grazed if needed.
    41. 41. Boettcher Family Farm Soil Health  Built up through crop rotation and is maintained by “thoughtful” tillage.  Overall diesel fuel consumption amounts to 16 litres/acre per year on all tillage and harvesting operations.
    42. 42. Boettcher Family Farm
    43. 43. Boettcher Family Farm
    44. 44. Boettcher Family Farm Soil Health cont.  Their principle: “Do everything to create soil biological activity and avoid everything that hinders this biological activity”
    45. 45. Boettcher Family Farm
    46. 46. Boettcher Family Farm Soil Health cont.  Through soil testing they can monitor biological activity in numbers.  Soil organic matter is steadily rising as is the Cation Exchange Capacity (CEC).  The macro minerals are leveling off at medium to medium high and the micronutrients are bouncing back from his conventional days.
    47. 47. Boettcher Family Farm Soil Health cont.  Soil life is fed almost every season by sheep manure and inter crop roots.  Yields have increased steadily over time and are now equal to his conventional colleagues and neighbours.  Weed pressure, pests and diseases are decreasing. A good crop rotation can manage weeds.
    48. 48. Year Crop/Operation Comments Year 1 • Legume/grass mix • Building up fertility and humus • (3 legumes, 3 grasses) • One cutting for hay, one • Diversity in root species grazing with flock • Forage tops converted by ruminants into fertilizer • No tillage Year 2 • Legume/grass mix • Root mass to feed soil life • One cutting, one grazing • Maximum build-up of soil fertility • 5 tonnes/acre winter compost worked in • Disk and rip up forage stand • Spelt seeding Year 3 • Spelt for harvest • Spelt (mediocre root system) heavy user of fertility • Red clover underseeding • Grazing in • Red clover builds fertility back September/October up • 1-2 offset diskings
    49. 49. Year Year 4 Crop/Operation • Oats for harvest • After harvest: oats broadcasted and disked in • Green oats (or seed cocktail) for grazing in November/December Comments • Oats – medium fertility user with superb root system • Superior soil tilth (calcium, phosphorus and micronutrient accumulator • No fall tillage Year 5 • Broadcast and harrowed • Oats easy to undercut for soy in oats ahead of seeding • Soybeans for harvest • Superb tilth • Broadcast and light disk • High brix soybeans => aphid rye after soy harvest management Year 6 • Rye for harvest • Rye uses up remnant fertility • Legume/grass mix • Good weed suppression underseeding • Legume/grass mix provides • Light grazing in October diversity again • No tillage
    50. 50. Changes in Soil Fertility Over the Last 16 Years on our Farm Organic Matter .02% to .1% increase per year Cation Exchange Capacity No change or 10-15% increase in 20 years (CEC) PH Moving towards neutral Acid soluble test • • • • Magnesium – down Calcium – up Potassium – slightly down (H to M range) Phosphorus – slightly down (VH to H range) Water soluble test • • • • • • • Calcium – up by up to 50% Potassium – slightly down Phosphorus – slightly down Magnesium – slightly up Sulphur – up Sodium – down Micronutrients – improving
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