Animal Housing, Bird Life, Building, Compost, Livestock, Waste Systems & Recycling, Working Animals — by Rick Pickett March 20, 2013
Rehabilitating degraded land in the Peruvian Amazon requires utilizing many tools in ecological agriculture’s arsenal. We use a mix of sea kelp, calcium solutions, organic fertilizers, and rock phosphate to add nutrients to our sacha inchi and mocambo polycultures.
One fertilizing solution we were without on the farm when I arrived was the mighty worm bin.* Vermiculture, or vermicompost, is a low-tech, organic method of using the digestive capacity of redworms (Eisenia fetida) to recycle animal and kitchen wastes into solid and/or liquid organic fertilizers. The worms may also be used as a high-protein feed for poultry. Some enterprising farmers also get into the business of selling the worms, castings and/or teas.Comments (5)
Food Plants - Annual, Food Plants - Perennial, Rehabilitation, Waste Systems & Recycling — by Rick Pickett September 8, 2012
Building soil fertility in the humid tropics is a difficult project. Not only because the soil itself is thin, but due to the fact that below the fertile surface of leaf litter, rotting trees and decaying organic matter is a mineral and nutrient deficient zone of usually acidic clays called oxisols or, less commonly, utisols. With up to 90% of tropical forest biomass living within the plants and organic matter and only a paltry 10% occurring in the actual soil, protection and cultivation of soil is extremely important in sustaining fertility.
For many of our farm partners, like Federico, we’re rehabilitating slashed-and-burned lands that have been heavily leached of nutrients or are lacking the balance of minerals needed to allow plants access to important nutrients like phosphorous. One technique used extensively in tropical climates to take advantage of oxisols is the heavy application of lime or calcium carbonate to raise the soil pH and begin improving the soil structure and mineral availability for plants.
We would love to pump multiple metric tons of lime or calcium into the soil, but our distant location from traditional sources and concerns about mineral extraction practices makes large-scale delivery undesirable. But, our plants need their calcium. What to do?Comments (8)
Aid Projects, Community Projects, Demonstration Sites, Education Centres, Land, Plant Systems, Surveying — by Rick Pickett August 28, 2012
In our three-years of experience in the Peruvian Amazon we’ve learned that equipment and techniques tried and proven elsewhere often don’t function well here. The combination of primitive infrastructure, intense heat, and high humidity wreaks havoc with equipment. Luckily for us, and the community of Mazán, we have Rick Pickett to apply truly useful technology to our project. (And, thankfully, his technology has yet to fall victim to the jungle.)*Comments (3)