Soil Reclaimation Presentation


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Soil Reclaimation Presentation

  1. 1. Soil Reclaimation Compost Workshop November, 2008 Ron Mccorkle - Soilcultures
  2. 2. Inoculate your soils <ul><li>Put about 1 inch of appropriate compost (fungal, bacterial, or balanced) around your plants </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Fungal good for trees, shrubs, most perennials </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Bacterial good for veggie and flower gardens and lawns </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Compost can completely change soil in 6 months </li></ul><ul><li>Your soil will get these benefits: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Decompaction </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Aeration </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Better water retention and drainage </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Increased retention and availability of nutrients </li></ul></ul><ul><li>After a year, the soil life will be down as deep as 18 inches. </li></ul>
  3. 3. What is Compost <ul><li>Compost is a whole universe of soil food web organisms. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>per teaspoon: </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>1 billion bacteria </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>400-900 feet of fungal hyphae </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>10,000 – 50,000 protozoa </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>30-300 nematodes </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Microanthropods </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Sometimes worms </li></ul></ul></ul>
  4. 4. What is Compost <ul><li>Compost can be used to inoculate beneficial microbes and life into soils around your yard and introduce, maintain, or alter the soil food web in a particular area. </li></ul><ul><li>The use of compost is a major soil food web tool. </li></ul><ul><li>Adding compost and its soil food web to the surface of the soil will inoculate the soil with the soil food web. </li></ul>
  5. 5. What is Compost <ul><li>The organisms in the compost you apply will spread life as far as they can </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Apply for everything growing in the soil </li></ul></ul><ul><li>You can best satisfy a plant’s nutrient needs by adding compost with the right microbial domination. </li></ul>
  6. 6. What is Compost <ul><li>There is more than one kind of compost. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>What goes in affects what comes out </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Make compost that is fungi dominated or bacteria dominated. </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>It depends on what you put into the compost bin to start. </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Most vegetables, annuals, and grasses prefer their nitrogen in nitrate form and do best in bacterially dominated soils. </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Most trees, shrubs, and perennials prefer their nitrogen in ammonium form and do best in fungally dominated soils. </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>I’ll explain more later </li></ul></ul>
  7. 7. History of Compost <ul><li>Farmers have been using compost to improve their soils at least since the time of the early Romans. </li></ul><ul><li>In the last century compost took a back seat to chemicals when it came to growing things. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Cars replaced horses and fewer homes featured chickens, cows, pigs, and other livestock. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Because of less manures, there was less compost, so agriculture required chemicals to feed the plants. </li></ul></ul>
  8. 8. History of Compost <ul><li>Compost has made a strong comeback </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Compost recycles some of our household wastes. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Composting has become popular as a green thing to do. </li></ul></ul>
  9. 9. How to Make Compost <ul><li>At the heart of every composting system are the soil microorganisms, the members of the compost’s food web. </li></ul><ul><li>Their metabolic activity creates the heat and by-products that make the composting process work. </li></ul><ul><li>Besides the microbes, composting requires heat, water, air and plant materials with the right amounts of carbon and nitrogen. All are mixed in the proper ratio. </li></ul>
  10. 10. How to Make Compost <ul><li>Plant materials you can add: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Grass clippings </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Autumn leaves </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Wood chips </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Straw </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Sawdust </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Branches </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Kitchen scraps (except meats and fats) </li></ul></ul>
  11. 11. How to Make Compost <ul><li>What not to add: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Human and pet feces </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Compost might not get hot enough to kill E. coli </li></ul></ul></ul>
  12. 12. How to Make Compost <ul><li>Bacteria and fungi seek carbon and nitrogen to fuel their metabolism and build structure and enzymes. </li></ul><ul><li>Moisture is necessary to prevent microbes from dying or going dormant. </li></ul><ul><li>Air is needed because the beneficial organisms are aerobic. (They breathe air). </li></ul><ul><li>Anaerobic organisms can decay a compost pile, but produce alcohols, which kill plants. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Anaerobic conditions will occur when not enough air is available. (discussed later) </li></ul></ul>
  13. 13. How to Make Compost <ul><li>Heat is required for composting </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Does not come from the sun </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Comes from the organisms metabolic activity </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Creates the environment that increases populations of organisms and causes them to change in character at the appropriate time during the composting cycle. </li></ul></ul>
  14. 14. How to Make Compost <ul><li>Plant material, moisture, air and heat, mixed in the right proportions will end up as compost. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Rich </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Crumbly </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Dark </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Coffee colored </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>sweet smelling humus </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Compost is life. If it’s not alive, it’s not compost. </li></ul></ul>
  15. 15. How to Make Compost <ul><li>Though it could take as long as a year or more, it is possible to make good compost in as little as a few weeks. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>The microbes do most of the work. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Different organisms work at different temperature levels, giving different stages compost must go through to be complete. </li></ul>
  16. 16. 3 Stages of Compost <ul><li>Mesophilic Stage </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Meophilic organisms thrive in moderate temperatures, between 68 and 104F. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Produce spores that are resistant to chemicals and heat, enabling them to survive the next, hotter stage. (they wait out the next levels) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>All the activity of the organisms, large and small, raise the temperature to the next level and new organisms get to work. </li></ul></ul>
  17. 17. 3 Stages of Compost <ul><li>Thermophilic phase </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Withstand temperatures of 104 to 150F and over. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Complex carbohydrates are fully broken down. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Some proteins are also decomposed. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>More resistant structures are decayed. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Many more bacteria and fungi join in </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Their heat causes the temp to continue to rise </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>These high temps also kill off pathogens. </li></ul></ul></ul></ul>
  18. 18. 3 Stages of Compost <ul><li>First two stages take place very rapidly </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Properly made, your pile should heat up to 135F in 24 to 72 hours </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>With the right mix, the center of a pile will heat up to 135F in a day and 150F in three. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>If the pile is not heating up, then you need to turn it. (inside out to introduce oxygen) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>If that doesn’t work, add fresh, green material </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Newspaper, fruit pulps, or commercial inoculums can also be added. </li></ul></ul></ul>
  19. 19. 3 Stages of Compost <ul><li>Monitor your compost pile </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Keep your pile between 140F and 150F for at least a few days to kell pathogenic microbes. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>At 150F, weed seeds are also destroyed. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Don’t let it get over 160F because this will start to burn off necessary carbon. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>To cool an overheated pile, turn it (works both to heat and cool) </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>If turning doesn’t cool it, add water or more brown materials. (bacteria are the heaters) </li></ul></ul></ul>
  20. 20. 3 Stages of Compost <ul><li>How do you check temperature? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Stick your hand into the pile to gauge the heat </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Use a long, gutter nail or metal rebar pipe into the pile (transmits heat and will feel warm when things are going right.) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Thermometer is more precise </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>You can buy a soil thermometer (best choice for me) </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>You can use an oven thermometer (open pile, set in thermometer, take out and read quickly) </li></ul></ul></ul>
  21. 21. 3 Stages of Compost <ul><li>Maturation Stage </li></ul><ul><ul><li>After proteins and carbohydrates are broken down, reduction of metabolic activity reduces temperature. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Mesophilic organisms start to work again. (they were protected by their special spores) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>The decay of lignin (the most resistant plant component) is completed. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Other bacteria working give the earthy smell associated with good compost and soil. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Major fungi are still at work. </li></ul></ul>
  22. 22. 3 Stages of Compost <ul><li>Maturation Stage (continued) </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Physical decomposers continue to support the microbial team. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Nematodes, springtails, centipedes and others </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Cause the populations of fungi and bacteria to increase. </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Soil binding activities increase. </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Worms also work the pile, coating particles with a mucus that binds them together into aggregates. </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Ants, snails, slugs, mites, spiders, rove beetles, and sow bugs shred matter, making it easier for the microbes. </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>They all work together very well. </li></ul></ul></ul>
  23. 23. 3 Stages of Compost <ul><li>It’s interesting to see some of these insects, that we consider pests in other parts of the garden, doing work that is benefiting the world. Makes me wonder. </li></ul>
  24. 24. 3 Stages of Compost <ul><li>Maturation Stage (continued) </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Keep the pile between 104 and 131F </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Turn inside out </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>If it goes below 104F, add more green </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>If it stays above 131F, add more brown </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Aerating will always work, but constant turning is labor intensive. (It will heat back up if the materials aren’t right) </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Watering will cool the pile, but is a drastic step because it also reduces oxygen. </li></ul></ul></ul>
  25. 25. 3 Stages of Compost <ul><li>Maturation Stage (continued) </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Moisture level </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Don’t let it dry out </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Water as you turn the pile </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Don’t let it be saturated (reduces air supply) </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Cover it with cardboard to keep rain from soaking it. </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Squeeze a handful, about 1 drop of water should come out. </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>If all goes well, “compost happens”. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>After two or three turns, your pile should be compost. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>It’s finished when you can’t recognize what’s in it. </li></ul></ul>
  26. 26. Bacterial vs. Fungal dominance <ul><li>The ratio of carbon to nitrogen has to be right in order to make compost. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Ideal C:N ratio is around 25:1 </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Too much carbon reduces nitrogen, slowing the process. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Too much nitrogen vents carbon or it runs off with watering. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>At the ideal ratio, things go fast, and decay is complete. </li></ul></ul>
  27. 27. Bacterial vs. Fungal dominance <ul><li>Divide composting materials into two categories, brown and green. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Brown materials support fungi and contain carbon. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Carbon provides energy for metabolism. </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Green materials support bacteria and are good nitrogen sources. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>The fresher the green item, the more nitrogen. </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Nitrogen provides building blocks for proteins. </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Produce enzymes necessary in the decay process. </li></ul></ul></ul></ul>
  28. 28. Bacterial vs. Fungal dominance <ul><li>Brown sources (best to have variety) </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Fallen leaves </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Bark </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Wood chips </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Twigs </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Branches </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Straw </li></ul></ul>
  29. 29. Bacterial vs. Fungal dominance <ul><li>Green sources (the fresher, the better) </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Grass clippings </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Fresh picked weeds </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Kitchen scraps (keep aerobic, not in a closed container) </li></ul></ul>
  30. 30. Bacterial vs. Fungal dominance <ul><li>Plants that are picked around the time the fruit is produced are green, after it goes to seed its brown is a general rule. </li></ul>
  31. 31. Bacterial vs. Fungal dominance <ul><li>Examples of C:N ratios found in materials </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Sawdust 500:1 </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Straw 300:1 </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Paper 170:1 </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Fallen leaves 50:1 </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Grass clippings 20:1 </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Peas and legumes and fresh manure 10:1 </li></ul></ul>
  32. 32. Bacterial vs. Fungal dominance <ul><li>You can be as creative as you want to get the 25:1 ratio, which is best for composting </li></ul><ul><li>Adjust it to be highly fungal </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Add brown material to increase the amount of fungi. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Adjust it to be highly bacterial </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Add green material </li></ul></ul>
  33. 33. Bacterial vs. Fungal dominance <ul><li>Decide what you need compost for. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>What are you growing </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>What are your soil problems </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>I will try to send out short articles on this in my newsletter from time to time. </li></ul></ul>
  34. 34. Bacterial vs. Fungal dominance <ul><li>Compost Recipes </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Fungal Recipe </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>10% alfalfa meal </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>50% grass clippings </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>40% leaves or small wood chips </li></ul></ul></ul>
  35. 35. Bacterial vs. Fungal dominance <ul><li>Compost Recipes </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Bacterial Recipe </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>25% alfalfa meal </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>50% grass clippings </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>25% fallen leaves or bark </li></ul></ul></ul>
  36. 36. Other Factors <ul><li>Bacteria have pH of around 7.5 </li></ul><ul><li>Fungi have pH around 6 </li></ul><ul><li>The more brown material, the lower the pH, generally. </li></ul><ul><li>No inorganic fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides, miticides or fungicides in compost. (they kill the organisms that you need). </li></ul>
  37. 37. Other Factors <ul><li>Size of material is important </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Too fine causes compression preventing air and the pile will be anaerobic. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Mix fine material with coarse material. </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Try mixing grass clippings with leaves. </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Too big causes too much air and the pile will heat up too much. Also, it wont decompose properly or fast enough. </li></ul></ul>
  38. 38. Other Factors <ul><li>Size of Pile </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Minimum size to heat properly is 3 feet square or round. (3 feet wide, deep and tall). </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Bigger is ok, but more work to turn. </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>6 feet square is probably as big as you want without mechanical help to turn. (this will require a lot of work to turn). </li></ul></ul></ul>
  39. 39. Other Factors <ul><li>You can just dump materials into a big heap. </li></ul><ul><li>You can contain materials (I prefer this to maintain the size I want). </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Chicken wire or other wire fencing 4-5 ft high. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>A pallet or screen on concrete blocks will allow air to circulate in the pile and be easier to maintain. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Tumblers can be effective, but it’s difficult to keep from getting too moist and they tend to break. </li></ul></ul>
  40. 40. Easy Way To Make a Compost Pile (My Suggestion) <ul><li>Keep green and brown material separate until ready to use. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>I use leaves, garden waste, grass clippings and household waste </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Try adding variety. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Keep household waste in a vented container inside, then insert into green pile outside. </li></ul><ul><li>Make 3ft square container with wire fencing around a pallet. </li></ul><ul><li>When you have enough material, put 6” brown and water, 6” green and water, 6” fresh manure and water. Repeat. </li></ul><ul><li>Cover with cardboard and put a heavy rock on top. </li></ul><ul><li>Water with about 50 gallons per week. </li></ul><ul><li>Turn inside out, once a month, more often if it gets too hot. </li></ul><ul><li>After about 3 months, it should be good. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>If it smells “clean” and earthy. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>If it smells bad (ammonia, vinegar, vomit, putrified) it’s anaerobic and should not be used. (aerate it and let it sit for a few days before giving it another nose test.) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Plant some seed. (it should grow) </li></ul></ul>
  41. 41. Compost for the Lazy <ul><li>4” leaves (shredded is faster) </li></ul><ul><li>4” alfalfa or grass clippings. </li></ul><ul><li>Water each layer. </li></ul><ul><li>Repeat until desired size. </li></ul><ul><li>Monitor heat and adjust as needed. </li></ul>
  42. 42. Vermicompost <ul><li>Processing material through earthworms </li></ul><ul><li>Email me for information </li></ul>
  43. 43. Even easier <ul><li>Cool composting </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Pile up all your materials in a corner of your yard. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Leave it </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Wait one year or more. </li></ul></ul>