Category: Soil Composition

Designer Resource: Getting Soil Data from the USDA Web Soil Survey (USA)

Soil is one of the basic resources that we have when beginning to work with land. Along with water, climatic patterns, and existing ecosystems, soils form the canvas on which we paint our agro-ecological life support systems. In the US the Web Soil Survey (WSS) managed by the US Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resource Conservation Service operates one of the largest soil resource information systems in the world. Soils of […]

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Dung Beetles – The Underground Army Enriching the Soil

This video gives an overview of the benefits of establishing and managing dung beetles. Dung beetles are fascinating insects, working tirelessly to bury dung around the country. One cow per day produces approximately 18kg of dung. These beetles process the dung by burying it deep into the soil and helping the plant roots to access them directly. In a way they are also providing food for the earth worms. When […]

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Grow Food and Soil With A Food Forest

Soil before and after After ten years of learning from and collaborating with a mega-diverse, globally inspired, edible forest garden, new wonders are under foot. Paradise Lot, here in Holyoke, Massachusetts, USA, has a soil story to tell, and we are finally getting around to deciphering its wonders. Since 2004, each year we installed a portion of our design of perennial polycultures of multi-purpose plants into sheet mulched garden beds. […]

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Differences in Tilled and No Till Soils – A Demonstration

In this video agronomist Mark Scarpitti of USDA-NRCS Ohio state demonstrates the differences between tilled and no-till soils by doing two simple tests. Slide test: In this test, a piece of soil is put in water to check how soil structure is held together. When water starts to rush into the porous spaces in the soil, tilled soil starts falling apart as there are nothing to hold the soil particles […]

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Building Up Soil for a Nutrient-Rich Raised Bed

All photos by David Ashwanden A lot of permaculture involves utilising waste streams and turning problems into solutions, and I often bring these into practice by looking at what’s available around me and how I can use it effectively. With this in mind, having come across some old bath tubs, I decided to create some raised beds, building up the soil using a layer mulch recipe rich in a mix […]

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Soil: The Hidden Frontier

Permaculturists everywhere are crazy about patterns. We are taught to “zen-out” so we can observe patterns in nature and society. But if patterns are the glue in permaculture, how do we begin to pick apart the patterns that we can’t even see with the naked eye? Enter world renowned soil biologist Dr. Elaine Ingham and her rowdy band of critters known as the soil food web. Dr. Ingham has spent […]

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Omaha Conference on Cover Crops and Soil Health – Presentation Resources

Recently, I had the honor of attending a national conference on cover crops and soil health. The conference was held in Omaha, Nebraska on February 17th to the 19th, sponsored primarily by the Howard G Buffett foundation and SARE (Sustainable Agriculture and Research Education). The attendees represented university specialists, seed vendors, farmers, non-profit groups, and government organizations focused on how to improve the health of our nation’s soils.

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Bhaskar Save, the Gandhi of Natural Farming

Sage of a minimalist farming system based on non-violence and all of nature’s biodiversity that produces in abundance with no chemical inputs. by Bharat Mansata Bhaskar Save, acclaimed ‘Gandhi of Natural Farming’, turned 92 on 27 January 2014, having inspired and mentored 3 generations of organic farmers. Masanobu Fukuoka, the legendary Japanese natural farmer, visited Save’s farm in 1996, and described it as “the best in the world”, ahead of […]

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Earthworms at Work

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bFpblBf1dfE The last post of Phillip Bradley was about no till farming practices, cover cropping and direct sowing. We have farmers in France doing this also. They are very active, always testing new cover crops and different ways to work. Here is their site, with plenty of videos — sometimes in English, usually in French. These French farmers are passionate about worms — because worms work for them all the […]

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Introduction to Naturalised Nursery Practice

Applying the understandings of ecosystem mimicry to create alternative solutions to current nursery practices of disease control, fertilisation and sterile mediums. It is my belief that nature is our greatest teacher. By observing nature we can see that a tree in a forest is self-maintaining. It does not rely on fertilisation, irrigation, pesticides or fungicides to produce healthy growth. It’s only with today’s technology we are beginning to bear witness […]

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Mohamed Hijri: A Simple Solution to the Coming Phosphorus Crisis (video)

Biologist Mohamed Hijri brings to light a farming crisis no one is talking about: We are running out of phosphorus, an essential element that’s a key component of DNA and the basis of cellular communication. All roads of this crisis lead back to how we farm — with chemical fertilizers chock-full of the element, which plants are not efficient at absorbing. One solution? Perhaps … a microscopic mushroom. — TED […]

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Hill Country Permaculture: The Way of the Fox (Central Texas)

Foxes are renowned for being clever and nimble — elusive when sought as prey and very hard to keep out of a chicken coop when on the prowl. Many years ago, sitting at dinner with some long time "Hill Country" (AKA central Texas USA) farmers, I learned something about foxes that’s stuck with me ever since. A fox’s tail weighs as much as the rest of its body and thus […]

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