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Understanding soil nitrogen management using synchrotron technology

Understanding soil nitrogen management using synchrotron technology | Organic Farming | Scoop.it
As food security becomes an increasingly important global issue, scientists are looking for the best way to maintain the organic matter in soils using different methods of fertilization and crop rotation.

 

He cites three common ways for producers to introduce nitrogen into soil: synthetic fertilizer; manure or other organic amendments; and through cultivation of nitrogen fixing pulse crops. For all these methods, the nitrogen comes in different forms. Synthetic fertiliz

Read more at: http://phys.org/news/2013-10-soil-nitrogen-synchrotron-technology.html#jCp
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Sanatana Pages: Organic farming and the centrality of the cow

Sanatana Pages: Organic farming and the centrality of the cow | Organic Farming | Scoop.it

Subhash Palekar Raises Agriculture to Spiritual Levels

For over sixty years, Indian agriculture was in a slumber. Our lands were scandalized by an unknown thing called as synthetic fertlizer. This was done to help the farmer get a 'better' harvest.

As the farmer started using it, he immediately noticed that, his soil had become infertile and could no longer bear crops for the next season. He was advised to add more and more fertilizer to the soil to compensate for the nutrient loss. Soon he was faced with another threat. The plants that grew with fertilizer needed pesticides. Soon, he started using these pesticides, which are deadly poisons. He noticed that the pests had become resistant to these chemicals as time went by. He was puzzled.

Our farmer forgot the ancient lesson that the soil HAD LIFE. He forgot that there were natural laws that governed the soil which his ancestors had obeyed from time immemorial. By thus obeying the laws , they had taken bumper harvests and had kept the land well cared for and transferred the land intact for posterity.

Subhash Palekar

It was at this time that a great mind set out to work in this field. He himself was a graduate of Agricultural science from a 'modern university'. He set out to work in his field using the British devised ways of Fertlisers and Pesticides and became an utter failure. He also ruined his land.

Then he set out to research on how our ancestors did so well in Agriculture without any of these chemicals. He consulted the Vedas, and the ancient wisdom literature. The result is a revolutionary, path breaking method, which Sri Subhash calls as 'Zero Budget Natural Farming'. Sri Subhash tried his method in his own soil and replicated it in various other fields tasting success every time.

An inspired Sri Subhash set out to teach this method to his countrymen. He has so far conducted not less than 1000 workshops, all heavily attended, to spread this new way of life for farmers.

The fundamental concept in Sri Subhash's work is that
1. Soil does not need nutrients to be added.
2. The soil has micro organisms which GENERATE NUTRIENTS for the soil.
3. It is possible to revive a fertliser damaged soil back to the natural ways.
4. That the new method require no money to do Agriculture.

Fascinating, is it not ? Read on for some more.

Sri Subhash says the pivot of 'Zero Budget Natural Farming' is the desi cow. He says that the desi cow's Urine, Cow dung and Milk have all the qualities required to rejuvenate the soil. Just ONE desi cow, says Sri Subhash, is all that is required to maintain a 30 acre Farm. He laments that the Desi- Jersi hybrid cows are of no use in his scheme of things.

What a sad thing ? The desi (country) cow is now has such a dwindling population that we need to revive them on a war footing. I wondered why the hybrid Jersi cow is unfit. A publication of 'Govardan', a voluntary organisation for Cow protection, says that the high yield Jersi was produced by crossing a wild pig and an Australian cow breed !

Sri Subhash has some formulas to revive the soil. One is 'Jeevamrutam'. This is not a replacement for Fertlizer , he says. Jeevamrutam is only a catalyst for the soil to generate its nutrients. He says that the 'organic manure','earthworm manure' are fads and are another recipe for disaster.

Sri Subhash condemns the university taught concept of burning the leftover plants after harvest. He says that these are to be left over in the soil itself by turning them over into the soil. This process of 'Mulching' helps the soil prepare its own manure.

And what about pests ? Subhash maintains that a naturally grown plant fights pests. But the plants in transit in chemical ravaged field can be protected by simply prepared 'natural pesticides' which arwe usually buttermilk, pepper and such simple combinations.

The Government Sponsored Chemical Mafia

A govermental survey states that the fertliser subsidy alone was abot Rs 13,000.00 crores in the year 2000. Add to this the pesticide subsidy and the farmer's burden. A report says that the pesticide business in India is the fourth largest in the world! Imagine what would have happened if the money is spent on raising desi cows, strengthening ponds and lakes, and protecting the village fiorests !

There are some criminal agricultural scientists who sit and lord over every governmental commission on Agriculture. These are the very people who are in hand in glove with the synthetic mafia and have been the cause of so much decline in production. Sri Subhash has alleged that our country imports foodgrains of about 5 million tonnes every year. This fact is not known to many Indians. The governments cheats here also.

Recently, a central minister went on record stating that poor Indians are eating more and this is causing problems. It is no wonder with such people at the helm, our Agriculture remains without policy.

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Osk Reddy's curator insight, August 24, 1:00 AM

We wish to bring to your notice that the "Green Universe Environmental Services Society (GUESS)" head-quartered at Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh, India was established in 1998. Since then we have been promoting various eco friendly concepts, pro-environmental initiatives and sustainable development projects. With our vast field-level practical experiences we have observed and noticed that the farmers of our country are facing severe crop loss issues due to wild boar & wild animal attacks, frequent natural calamities, global warming effects, non availability of labour, cost escalation and climate change issues. It is known fact that many of the wild animals have shifted their habitations from the forests to farm fields due to man-made mistakes such as severe deforestation and high level destruction in the forest areas. 

 

Due to the above situations the farmers who make 70% of the Indian community are leaving agriculture and migrating to the urban habitations in search of livelihoods resulting in many of the villages are becoming deserts and the population pressure is at high level in urban areas which is causing various social & economic issues. It is fact that the most of the countries are shifting towards naturals in all walks of life and the demand for natural products is ever increasing and it is time to throw light on promotion of different eco-friendly sustainable farming measures & concepts to the struggling farmer community.

 

Keeping in view the alarming situation faced by the farming community due to wild boar & animal attacks which is great concern to the society today we have come up with an eco-friendly, cost-effective sustainable solution of "Henna Bio Fence." It is non-grazing & pest-free because it is astringent & pungent in nature which can be an effective NPM measure, sustains for longer period hence it is perennial, drought tolerant because it can pass through severe climatic situations, creates additional man days through raising & post harvest measures and also generates income because the demand for natural dyes is ever increasing. Hence "Henna Bio Fence" can be an eco-friendly cost-effective sustainable solution in place of highly expensive solar, chain linked mesh & barbed wire fences and can act as income & employment generating measure.

 

Natural dyes are pro-environment and obtained from renewable resources with no health hazards are traditionally used since ages to impart color. There is renewed interest in the application of natural dyes throughout the world today, as eco-friendly norms become stringent and the awareness about protection and preservation of environment grows day by day. The entire world is facing the side effects of synthetic products and there has been increasing interest in natural dyes, as the public become aware of health issues, ecological and environmental problems related to the use of synthetic dyes. Henna as natural dye is being used in Textiles, Handlooms, Leather, Beauty & Health Care, Cosmetics and Tattoo Industries etc. 

 

Considering the above facts, concerns and in light of the multi beneficial advantages, as responsible NGO we have initiated this "Henna Bio Fence" project to help the struggling farmers. We request for financial collaboration to impart trainings, to create awareness, to transform the concept and to provide input cost to encourage an eco-friendly, sustainable and cost effective "Henna Bio Fence" to the farmers to protect the crops from wild boar & animal attacks and to improve their income levels. In addition to the crop protection measure there is lot of scope for employment generation through value addition and marketing. 

 

Henna Bio Fence is also useful as NPM, NTFP, SMC & NRM measures. The Decoction of henna leaves because of its strong chemical composition can be used as Bio Pesticide for all the crops which reduces the pest management expenditure for a longer period. It also controls the cross pollination (Isolation) issues between different crops. Henna Bio Fence in one meter width all along the periphery of the crop fields in multiple (6-9) rows with close spacing will become as thick & strong fence which completely arrests the wild boar and animal attacks. Reducing crop loss itself is great benefit to the farmers and as well to the nation and also there are many social & economic advantages in addition to the crop protection measure. 

 

Keeping in view the above facts, we request the International Organizations who are very much concern about environment & global warming effects for financial contributions from Carbon Trade Funds, Environment Protection Funds, Ecological Balancing Funds, Global Warming Budgets, CSR & CER initiatives to provide them an eco-friendly, sustainable and cost effective "Henna Bio Fence" for their farm fields to protect the crops from animal attacks and to improve the income levels of the farming community. Hence, we request your kind attention towards a noble cause of "Vruksho Rakshathi Rakshithaha" by providing them the input cost from different possible funds & measures to help the struggling farmers who are feeding our Nation. The detailed project report will be submitted after hearing from you. We await quick response in this regard to make this pro-environmental project successful. We are hereby providing the YouTube link of promo film on Henna Bio Fence for information.

 

Henna Bio Fence Video Link:

 

GUESS - Henna Bio Fence - English  : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rvzdK4qQbQo

 

GUESS - Henna Bio Fence - Telugu  : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nQTs9khJmQg

 

Thanking You

 

 

Best Regards

 

 

OSK REDDY

Ph. No. 919494947894 / 919848028410

Mail:oskreddy@gmail.com / oskreddy@yahoo.com

Web Site: www.guessfoundation.org

 

 

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Organic, Natural, and Biodynamic Wine - EthicalFoods.com

Organic, Natural, and Biodynamic Wine - EthicalFoods.com | Organic Farming | Scoop.it

 

Author Eden Canon walks us through the confusing and sometimes contentious world of wine labels in search of a perfect glass of vino. Organic? Biodynamics

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Monsanto is using big data to take over the world

Monsanto is using big data to take over the world | Organic Farming | Scoop.it
The GMO giant wants to help you beat climate change…with your phone.

 

http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2014/11/monsanto-big-data-gmo-climate-change

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Interview With Mark Shepard of New Forest Farm - EthicalFoods.com

Interview With Mark Shepard of New Forest Farm - EthicalFoods.com | Organic Farming | Scoop.it
Mark Shepard has created something of an environmental oasis at his Wisconsin homestead, New Forest Farm. Shepard, a farmer and author, is a long time proponent of restoration agriculture, the practice of recreating healthy, naturally occurring, economically viable perennial farms.

 

 

 

http://ethicalfoods.com/interview-mark-shepard-new-forest-farm/

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NSW farmer believes increasing soil humus can prompt rain

NSW farmer believes increasing soil humus can prompt rain | Organic Farming | Scoop.it
Can farmers make it rain?

It's a tantalising question that one farmer has been researching and scientists have been exploring.

Glenn Morris is passionate about humus and believes what you do to the soil on your farm, can affect the rain.

"The humus is the home for the biology, and recent scientific reports coming out of the United States are saying that the biology actually increases up to 160 per cent in the first five minutes following rain, so it's actually an ice-nucleating agent for forming rain," he said.

"We're basically talking about biological cloud seeding."

Mr Morris, an organic beef producer in northern NSW, won a Landcare award last year.

He did his Masters thesis on the link between humus in the soil, the release of rain-forming plant pathogens and how both those things can help to rehydrate the landscape.

A decade ago he was managing a property that was unusually dry.

"The water cycle was breaking down, not so much due to a lack of weather systems coming through, but the fact there was no moisture being held in the system," he said.

"The soil had lost its ability to hold the water and that was due to a lack of organic matter and humus.

"I did a Masters on that subject and tried to quantify how much water we could hold in the landscape by increasing humus."

It took Mr Morris two years to get a number.

"The figures were basically a 1:4 relationship, which equated to every one per cent humus we could increase in the landscape, we could hold an extra 160,000 litres of water."

Mr Morris says grazing management is the way to increase humus in the soil.

"Manage your pasture so that it has the optimum chance to rest, just before the late maturity phase and just before seeding.

"They've got their energy requirement [by then], so they really start dumping sugars into the root zone [and] that's when you start to get really good humus gains."

Grazing cattle is also important, because it allows the organic matter to be broken down into a density that makes a difference.

Mr Morris believes that if farmers band together to increase soil humus, they could effectively seed the clouds and make it rain.

"It's a big call to say that you can make a difference just over your property, but at a regional level, if a few farmers come on board, you are actually cloud seeding."

So is it true? Can farmers band together and attract rain to their farms?

Dr Lachlan Ingram from the University of Sydney is based in Cooma in southern NSW and has also been researching soil organic matter and water holding capacity.

He confirms there is definitely a relationship between humus and the water that soil can hold and also that plants release spores which become nuclei for rain.

But can farmers make it rain by increasing the humus in their soils? Dr Ingram says probably not.

"It's part of a larger process," he said,

"We know that clouds and raindrops form as a result of these small aerosols or nuclei which water binds to, and we know that spores are a really critical part of that.

But, he says, high winds at high altitudes will blow it away.

"The reality is that they're probably going to be hit by winds and perhaps taken downstream a hundred or a thousand kilometres."
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Agri-Youth: Does organic farming foster biodiversity?

http://www.redorbit.com/news/science/1113180754/organic-agriculture-boosts-biodiversity-on-farmlands/#FQDqm1cKGxPdIGXT.99

 

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Small-Scale Traditional Farming Is the Only Way to Avoid Food Crisis, UN Researcher Says

Small-Scale Traditional Farming Is the Only Way to Avoid Food Crisis, UN Researcher Says | Organic Farming | Scoop.it
New scientific research increasingly shows how “agroecology” offers environmentally sustainable methods that can meet the rapidly growing demand for food.

 

 

 

 

 

http://www.yesmagazine.org/planet/un-only-small-farmers-and-agroecology-can-feed-the-world

 

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Cultural change in Kenyan banana farming

Cultural change in Kenyan banana farming | Organic Farming | Scoop.it
This audio slideshow shows how innovative tissue cultures are boosting production and family incomes.

 

http://www.scidev.net/global/farming/multimedia/cultural-change-in-kenyan-banana-farming.html

 

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Insect Agriculture Is Growing - MIT Technology Review

Insect Agriculture Is Growing - MIT Technology Review | Organic Farming | Scoop.it
Insect Agriculture Is Growing
MIT Technology Review
Most farmers go to great lengths to keep insects at bay. For a growing cadre of livestock and fish producers ...
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Drones Take Flight Over Farms - KELOLAND TV

Drones Take Flight Over Farms - KELOLAND TV | Organic Farming | Scoop.it
KELOLAND TV
Drones Take Flight Over Farms
KELOLAND TV
With today's modern technology farmers can better manage their crops and livestock. The latest piece of equipment looks more like a toy than a piece of machinery.
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No tillage case study | Farming Futures

No tillage case study | Farming Futures | Organic Farming | Scoop.it

I met agronomist John Vickery of Agrii, at a farm he looks after in Gloucestershire,to discuss the benefits of implementing a non-tillage system. The farm is mixed, and as such stubble turnips for the sheep are included in the rotation, which also consists of spring peas, winter oilseed rape, winter wheat, and winter barley, which goes for seed.

The first significant variation in the rotation is the use of a double break crop. Once the sheep are off the stubble turnips, 25t/ha of compost is put on the ground, giving a great seedbed for the following crop. This is effectively like the garden compost you can buy in the shops, and the results in a significant increase in the soil organic matter. A late application of glyphosate is made after the stubble turnips , to tidy up any of the late-germinating spring weeds, and any blackgrass that is still coming through. Then, the peas are drilled in.

Following the peas is oilseed rape, shown in the photo above, which benefits greatly from the increase in nitrogen as a result of the previous nitrogen fixing leguminous crop. Not only does this method put the converted nitrogen to good use, it also is a great way of getting a head start on any grassweed burden, by having two consecutive years out of cereals to try to hit the population. This is implemented with the spring glyphosate application before the peas, and then a well-timed application of Kerb Flo 500, or in John’s case last year, ASTROKerb. The non-tillage system means achieving the ideal timings for Kerb Flo 500/ASTROKerb may be made slightly easier, with the soil easily walkable, even following the heavy rains the west of the UK can experience.

One problem that can be encountered with non-tillage systems is an increase in slug pressure, due to a lot of trash being left on the ground. By using stubble rakes, John has been able to keep on top of this so far, and has experienced little trouble with slug damage. If managed properly, the trash can provide an extra feeding stuff for the worms, benefiting the soil when the straw is dragged underground and broken down- a great source of nitrogen for the crop, something particularly beneficial with the oilseed rape. In order to avoid a problem with the slug population, the combine is set to cut the stubble high, as the drill they use can cope with drilling into the stubble without blocking up. With greater stubble height, and as a result less straw on the ground, the opportunity for slugs is limited.

The following two years of cereals greatly benefit from the reduction in grassweed pressure, resulting in less dependence on chemical methods of blackgrass control. John made reference to the work taking place in France, looking at the benefits of a double break crop for grassweed control; a factor that influenced him in the decision to follow the peas with oilseed rape.

From: http://www.myfarmlifecycle.com/non-tillage-across-whole-farm-rotation-su...

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Herbal Leys - a farmers experience | Farming Futures

Herbal Leys - a farmers experience | Farming Futures | Organic Farming | Scoop.it

Clyde Jones, who manages 500 crossbred cows near Ringwood in Hampshire, explains why herbal leys play an important part in his forage management.

“This is a really dry farm, and we do suffer with the conditions,” says Clyde. “Our rotationally grazing system does ‘buy’ us extra growth over the summer but, even so, grass did burn up in August.

“Last year, we put in 16 hectares of a mixed herbal ley (see below for seed mix), as a kind of trial. It was direct drilled into stubble in late March, and was up and was first grazed at the beginning of July. It performed well in our dry conditions, providing 30kg of DM/ha/day growth across the dry July/August period.

“We know the soil here is depleted, with low organic matter in the top four inches of soil. However, analysis of forage from the herbal ley showed the plants, with their long roots, had been able to tap into the nutrients below that level.

“This year we put a further 45 hectares into herbal ley for grazing, by directly drilling into existing leys of perennial ryegrass in the autumn, as well as two further off-lying areas, for conservation and youngstock. This means 85 hectares of the 260 we have are down to herbal leys. An indication of how impressed we’ve been.

“Herbal leys provide a lower feed cost for us, as you can pretty much leave it alone and it performs so well. With perennial ryegrass, we had the added expense of pre-mowing, topping, nitrogen, etc.

“This year, we have struggled to get a pure herbal ley as the perennial ryegrass is determined to come back. We’re looking to alter the seed mix in the ley, with the inclusion of more legumes, to aid production, but the deep roots mean the plant performance is very good in our dry conditions.”

Herbal ley seed mix 17 Hectares Special 'HERBAL' Dual Purpose Four Year Ley

 

3.75kg (63.75) certified Prairial cocksfoot2.00kg (34) certified Rossa meadow fescue1.25kg (21.25) certified Kora tall fescue1.88kg (31.875) certified Altaswede red clover1.25kg (21.25) certified Dawn alsike clover0.25kg (4.25) certified Rocco birdsfoot trefoil2.50kg (42.5) commercial Sainfoin2.50kg (42.5) commercial sweet clover2.25kg (38.25) certified Puna II chicory3.13kg (53.125) Burnet forage herb0.63kg (10.625) Yarrow forage herb0.50kg (8.5) Sheeps Parsley forage herb0.50kg (8.5) Ribgrass forage herb0.25kg (4.25) certified Hobson forage rape

Total 22.64kg/ha

10-12kg/ha of a ryegrass/timothy/white clover mix was added to the above mix.

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Organic, Natural, and Biodynamic Wine - EthicalFoods.com

Organic, Natural, and Biodynamic Wine - EthicalFoods.com | Organic Farming | Scoop.it
Author Eden Canon walks us through the confusing and sometimes contentious world of wine labels in search of a perfect glass of vino. Organic? Biodynamic? 

 

http://ethicalfoods.com/organic-wine/

 

 

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Organic Kerala - EthicalFoods.com

Organic Kerala - EthicalFoods.com | Organic Farming | Scoop.it
Kerala plans to implement a statewide move toward organic production.

 

http://ethicalfoods.com/kerala-organic/

 

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Susan Sharma's curator insight, November 23, 11:45 PM
State Government commitment to organic food production is commendable
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A Sustainable Solution for the Corn Belt

A Sustainable Solution for the Corn Belt | Organic Farming | Scoop.it
A creative new approach to Midwestern agriculture, involving indigenous prairie plants, has the potential to unite farmers and environmentalists.
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Natural gas royalties open farm opportunities

Natural gas royalties open farm opportunities | Organic Farming | Scoop.it

The tractors at Weatherbury Farm are a little fancier than the old ones, and a $65,000 compost and manure spreader purchased last year puts down fertilizer evenly.

The organic farm in Avella is doing pretty well these days. A big reason is thousands of dollars in monthly royalties from Range Resources Corp. to pull natural gas from beneath Weatherbury's 100 acres.

“It has allowed us to keep farming,” said Marcy Tudor, whose family has owned the Washington County farm since 1986.

The shale boom has injected cash into agriculture, which leaders consider one of Pennsylvania's key industries. Farmers who in recent years have struggled to turn a profit on produce, milk and beef discovered a source of income from leasing mineral rights or land to natural gas companies.

It's difficult to know how many farmers hold natural gas leases in the state, or what financial compensation those leases provide, because each was negotiated privately. But as the largest single landowners in most counties, farmers stand to disproportionately benefit, and there is evidence that Marcellus shale activity has boosted incomes where drilling is most prevalent, said Timothy Kelsey, a professor of agricultural economics at Penn State University.

In 2004, before the boom, rents and royalties accounted for 1.3 percent of total income in counties that had at least 90 wells, on par with counties that had no drilling, according to a study of state tax data that Kelsey co-authored last year. By 2010, royalties were 8 percent of income in counties with the most activity, compared with 1.4 percent in counties with no wells.

Fences, blacktopped driveways, barns and outbuildings have appeared on farms perched atop the resource-rich shale play. Suddenly, dairy farmers struggling to get by on unreliable income from milk production could pay off a $200,000 mortgage in cash, bankers say. And though some farmers chose to take the money and retire, many are doubling down and expanding operations.

“It's fairly widespread that the dollars are allowing farmers to invest in new buildings, new equipment. They're shifting production from what they were doing previously to something else,” Kelsey said. “Largely, what I've heard is that the dollars are allowing farmers to make more choices than they were before.”

The money John Grice receives in royalty payments each month will enable him and his brother, Bruce, to buy out their other four siblings' share of their dairy farm.

John and Bruce Grice together own two-thirds of the 400-acre Folly Hollow Farm in South Franklin in Washington County, and have made payments to their siblings for the remaining third, which they inherited when their mother died two years ago.

Washington and Greene counties account for the most shale gas in Western Pennsylvania. Susquehanna and Bradford counties lead the state.

Range has five wells on the Grices' property. When the wells began producing last year, the farm's first monthly royalty payment was $70,000.

Grice didn't pocket all the cash, though. Taxes took a third of it, Grice said, and the siblings divided what was left. His share was about $15,000.

The checks won't always be that big. Payments are tied to the royalty percentage in the contract — which can be as high as 18 percent — but fluctuate with production volume and the price of gas. Folly Hollow Farm's royalties have gone as low as $6,000 a month.

“Just like the dairy business, you don't know how much money you're going to get from the gas. It fluctuates tremendously,” Grice said. “And it's really hard to plan because you don't know how much you're going to get.”

However welcome the royalties may be, farmers cannot afford to treat the payments like found money and must budget wisely, Kelsey said.

“This is a little bit different than lottery winnings,” he said. “If you make mistakes early on in how you manage the resource, it's a big problem.”

That is, farmers should not squander money on luxury items that do nothing to improve the long-term value of their farms. Capital investments such as building barns, upgrading equipment, or expanding into other agricultural products can sustain a farm for decades when the royalty payments run thin, Kelsey said.

Besides tractors and the compost spreader, Weatherbury purchased a stone mill to grind organic grain into flour and sell it.

“The flour mill allows us to take our grain and add value to our grain ourselves,” said Nigel Tudor, Marcy's son.

That $12,000 investment has doubled the value of the grain because the organic flour sells at a premium, he said, providing a sustained income boost even when payments from the natural gas activity decline.

The farm has been fortunate to avoid environmental damage that would ruin its organic crops, Marcy Tudor said. She has had the groundwater tested several times and found no change. Regulators have documented about 240 instances in the past decade in which gas drilling has negatively affected well water supplies statewide.

As long as Range pulls gas out of the ground and pays the Tudors for the right to do so, the Tudors are pleased to put the money back into their farm.

“The gas was from the land,” she said. “So we're putting the money back into the lan


Read more: http://triblive.com/business/headlines/7010770-74/farm-gas-farmers#ixzz3HvMgt6Lr
Follow us: @triblive on Twitter | triblive on Facebook

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Agroforestry.org - Nitrogen Fixing Trees-Multipurpose Pioneers • NFTs • Air to the Plants • Planting • Establishment • Legumes • Seed Inoculation • Scarification • Species Selection

Agroforestry.org - Nitrogen Fixing Trees-Multipurpose Pioneers • NFTs • Air to the Plants • Planting • Establishment • Legumes • Seed Inoculation • Scarification • Species Selection | Organic Farming | Scoop.it
Nitrogen Fixing Trees for Agroforestry

Nitrogen fixation is a pattern of nutrient cycling which has successfully been used in perennial agriculture for millennia. This article focuses on legumes, which are nitrogen fixers of particular importance in agriculture. Specifically, tree legumes (nitrogen fixing trees, hereafter called NFTs) are especially valuable in subtropical and tropical agroforestry. They can be integrated into an agroforestery system to restore nutrient cycling and fertility self-reliance.

On unvegetated sites, "pioneer" plants (plants which grow and thrive in harsh, low-fertility conditions) begin the cycling of nutrients by mining and accumulating available nutrients. As more nutrients enter the biological system and vegetative cover is established, conditions for other non-pioneering species become favorable. Pioneers like nitrogen fixing trees tend to benefit other forms of life by boosting fertility and moderating harsh conditions.

NFTs are often deep rooted, which allows them to gain access to nutrients in subsoil layers. Their constant leaf drop nourishes soil life, which in turn can support more plant life. The extensive root system stabilizes soil, while constantly growing and atrophying, adding organic matter to the soil while creating channels for aeration. There are many species of NFTs that can also provide numerous useful products and functions, including food, wind protection, shade, animal fodder, fuel wood, living fence, and timber, (see chart for specific species yields) in addition to providing nitrogen to the system.
Nitrogen: From the Air to the Plants

Nitrogen is often referred to as a primary limiting nutrient in plant growth. Simply put, when nitrogen is not available plants stop growing. Although lack of nitrogen is often viewed as a problem, nature has an immense reserve of nitrogen everywhere plants grow--in the air. Air consists of approximately 80% nitrogen gas (N2), representing about 6400 kg of N above every hectare of land. However, N2 is a stable gas, normally unavailable to plants. Nitrogen fixation, a process by which certain plants "fix" or gather atmospheric N2 and make it biologically available, is an underlying pattern in nature. (See box below for details on how nitrogen fixation works).
How to Use NFTs in a System

In the tropics, most of the available nutrients (over 75%) are not in the soil but in the organic matter. In subtropical and tropical forests, nutrients are constantly cycling through the ecosystem. Aside from enhancing overall fertility by accumulating nitrogen and other nutrients, NFTs establish readily, grow rapidly, and regrow easily from pruning. They are perfectly suited to jump-start organic matter production on a site, creating an abundant source of nutrient-rich mulch for other plants. Many fast-growing NFTs can be cut back regularly over several years for mulch production.

The NFTs may be integrated into a system in many different ways including clump plantings, alley cropping, contour hedgerows, shelter belts, or single distribution plantings. (See figure below). As part of a productive system, they can serve many functions: microclimate for shade-loving crops like coffee or citrus (cut back seasonally to encourage fruiting); trellis for vine crops like vanilla, pepper, and yam; mulch banks for home gardens; and living fence and fodder sources around animal fields.
NFT illus feian01Ways to integrate nitrogen fixing trees in your plantings

Planting Nitrogen Fixing Trees

Species Selection

A survey of your area will be helpful in determining the habit and vigor of local NFTs. Some are small and produce edible shoots and pods, ideal for home garden use; others are large and fast growing for fuel wood or poles. Decide on what yields you want from your NFTs, and choose a diversity of species. For some characteristics of many nitrogen fixing trees, this chart may be of use.

Seed Pregermination Treatment (Scarification)

In many NFTs, the hard seed coat must be scarified in order to allow absorption of water, hence germination. There are several methods: hot water is the most common. Water temperature should be approximately 70-90 C° (160°F). The volume ratio should be 5-10 parts water to one part seeds. Seeds are placed in hot water for 1-3 minutes, then rinsed. Seeds may be soaked overnight at room temperature. A useful chart is given on the FACT Net website.

Seed Inoculation

After scarification, a sticking agent such as vegetable oil or plain water is applied sparingly to seeds, and inoculum dusted into the mix. Seeds should be sown immediately. Do not expose inoculated seed to extremes in temperature or direct sunlight.

Planting

Plant material in the form of bare root seedlings, stump cuttings and branch cuttings should be kept moist and protected until planting. Punch a small hole in the ground with the same diameter as the plant material. Seedlings should be placed in the hole with the root/shoot collar of the tree at soil level. Stump cuttings are handled likewise. Branch cuttings should be scarified in several places with a sharp knife to promote rooting and put in the ground about one third of their length.

Establishment

Initially NFTs require moisture and adequate nutrients, as well as protection from weed competition. The best way to achieve these conditions is to amend the soil and sheet mulch at the time of planting.

A Caution

As the goal in agroforestry is to foster a productive and stable ecosystem, rather than simply to add nitrogen to the system, NFTs should be used with due care and oversight. Too many nitrogen fixing plants can overnitrify the soil and pollute ground and surface waters. NFTs are not a panacea. Most will not thrive in shade or fertile conditions. Because of their ability to thrive under poor conditions, they can easily become weedy. Therefore, if possible, use only NFTs which are already established in your area, or that have a history of not becoming weeds. NFTs can also become competitive for available soil nutrients, especially in arid areas-careful and informed management practices are advised.

Also, be aware that there are many other significant avenues for nitrogen fixation in nature, such as free-living nitrogen fixing bacteria, which should also be incorporated into a design.
How Biological Nitrogen Fixation Works in Legumes

Working with a group of bacteria called rhizobia, legumes are able to pull nitrogen out of the air and accumulate it biologically. The bacteria, which are normally free-living in the soil in the native range of a particular legume, infect (inoculate) the root hairs of the plant and are housed in small root structures called nodules. Energy is provided by the plant to feed the bacteria and fuel the nitrogen fixation process. In return, the plant receives nitrogen for growth.

There are thousands of strains of rhizobia. Certain of these will infect many hosts, certain hosts will accept many different strains of rhizobia. Certain hosts may be nodulated by several strains of rhizobia, but growth may be enhanced only by particular strains. Therefore, when introducing hosts to a new area it is extremely important to also introduce a known effective symbiotic rhizobia strain. Such effective strains have been identified for thousands of the important nitrogen fixing legumes, and can be purchased at low cost for the value returned. The best method for ensuring effective nitrogen fixation is introduce a known effective strain of Rhizobium to the potting medium at the time of sowing. Large, healthy nodules may also be used to inoculate seeds. To determine if the nodule is effective, it may be cut open. Effective nodules will have a pink to dark red pigment inside.

In conventional cropping systems it is estimated that 50-800 kg of nitrogen per hectare per year are accumulated by nitrogen fixing plants, depending on species, soil and climate, Rhizobium efficiency, and management. Equivalent quantities of manufactured nitrogen is produced using an energy intensive process, and the end product is high-priced nitrogen in a form which can be detrimental to soil ecology.

NFT illus feian02
References and further reading:

FAO, 1984. Legume Inoculants and Their Use, FAO of the United Nations, Rome. Excellent practical handbook for inoculation.

MacDicken, Kenneth G. 1994. Selection and Management of Nitrogen-Fixing Trees. Winrock International Institute for Agricultural Development, Morrilton, Arkansas, USA.

National Academy of Sciences. 1979. Tropical Legumes: Resources for the Future, National Academy Press, Washington, D.C..

Nitrogen Fixing Tree Association (Currently the FACT Net). 1989-1994. NFT Highlights. Nitrogen Fixing Tree Association, Morrilton, Arkansas, USA.

Author Contact:

Craig Elevitch and Kim Wilkinson
P.O. Box 428, Holualoa, HI 96725 USA
agroforestry.net
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Regenerative Agriculture Is the Answer to Save Your Health

Regenerative Agriculture Is the Answer to  Save Your Health | Organic Farming | Scoop.it
Regenerative agriculture is one of the best ways to help prevent global disaster, save our health, and build a sustainable economy.

 

 

 

 

 

http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2014/10/14/regenerative-agriculture.aspx?

 

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Reviving Nepal with hybrid tomatoes

Reviving Nepal with hybrid tomatoes | Organic Farming | Scoop.it
This audio slideshow shows how the creation of a hybrid species revived traditional farming in the country.

 

http://www.scidev.net/global/farming/multimedia/reviving-nepal-with-hybrid-tomatoes.html

 

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Solar ammonia process may spur fertiliser revolution

Solar ammonia process may spur fertiliser revolution | Organic Farming | Scoop.it
Developing nations could use the process to make their own fertiliser, avoiding the huge expense of imports.

 

 

http://www.scidev.net/index.cfm?originalUrl=global/agriculture/news/solar-ammonia-process-may-spur-fertiliser-revolution.html

 

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Vandana Shiva’s Crusade Against Genetically Modified Crops

Michael Specter on Vandana Shiva, an activist who accuses biotechnology companies such as Monsanto of imposing “food totalitarianism.” Others believe that G.M.O.s are the key to solving world hunger.

 

 

http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2014/08/25/seeds-of-doubt

 

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New technology helps farmers conserve fertilizer and protect their crops - The Guardian

New technology helps farmers conserve fertilizer and protect their crops - The Guardian | Organic Farming | Scoop.it
The Guardian
New technology helps farmers conserve fertilizer and protect their crops
The Guardian
It is the broad swath at the bottom of our own human food pyramid and it is applied by farmers to agriculture fields all over the world.
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Sylvain Rotillon's curator insight, August 22, 7:08 AM

This is also a way to minimize pollution

Susan Sharma's curator insight, August 23, 1:12 AM
Technology can help in regulating fertilizer inputs. This is an innovation which was long overdue!
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Burundi farmers teach each other how to farm more efficiently

Burundi farmers teach each other how to farm more efficiently | Organic Farming | Scoop.it
In July, an open day was held in the village communities of Makebuko and Bukirasazi in Burundi. The aim was to demonstrate the success of SCAD, a collaborative project set up by Alterra, Achmea and HealthNetTPO, which employs an integrated approach to improve both the food production and the social security of the local population.

 

wageningenur.nl/en/newsarticle/Burundi-farmers-teach-each-other-how-to-farm-more-efficiently.htm

 

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Bees can spot which flowers offer best rewards before landing | Farming Futures

Bees can spot which flowers offer best rewards before landing | Farming Futures | Organic Farming | Scoop.it

Bumblebees are able to connect differences in pollen quality with floral features like petal colour, and so land only on the flowers that offer the best rewards, according to a new study by researchers at the University of Exeter.

Unlike nectar, bees do not ingest pollen whilst foraging on flowers, and so until now it has been unclear whether they are able to form associative relationships between what a flower looks like and the quality of its pollen. The study used bumblebee foragers, housed under controlled conditions to test whether they do learn about flowers during pollen collection.

The findings indicate that pollen foraging behaviour involves learning and individual decision-making, which may allow bees to quickly learn which flowers provide the most nutritious pollen rewards for rearing their young.

The experiments involved manipulating the quality of pollen offered to the bees by diluting the samples. The researchers examined what they preferred to collect, if they could differentiate quality before landing by only letting the bees smell and see the pollen rather than probing it; and presenting the bees with four different coloured discs containing stronger and less diluted pollen to record preferences and change of preferences over time.

'Bees associate colour cues with differences in pollen rewards' by Elizabeth Nicholls and Natalie Hempel de Ibarra is published in the Journal of Experimental Biology.

From: http://bbsrc.ac.uk/news/food-security/2014/140731-pr-bees-spot-best-flow...

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Commercial drone dealers take farming to new heights - My Eastern Shore

Commercial drone dealers take farming to new heights - My Eastern Shore | Organic Farming | Scoop.it
Commercial drone dealers take farming to new heights
My Eastern Shore
North Dakota State University Professor John Nowatzki addresses local farmers about the use of drone technology in precision agriculture.
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