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Armyrick's Land Healing Farm...

ArmyRick

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Not too much else to update people on. Winter is here and things slow down.

Very excited about my silvopasture project. Thinning out overgrown forest so I can run my ruminants through the woods and create an undergrowth (double carbon sequestering)
.

Been slamming hard on a certain dietary belief structure lately (Don't care how celebrities jump on their bandwagon or how many mockumentary with cherry picking or false info)

My pigs are doing their miracle work (They presently turning up last winters sheep pen so the compost can breakdown faster). Their Berkshires, excellent looking pigs (and tasty bacon)

Also looking at a Huegelkultur (Hill culture) pasture garden system. Its taking logs, lay them down, pile up organic waste material high in carbon and covering with a non seedy mulch. It is a triangle shaped hill. Veggies are planted in (yeah we do those too BUT its not vegan because you are not allowed to use animal waste) and harvested.

My principles/rules/thoughts/concepts/rickism for growing veggies
-No till or plough up (carbon loss, soil structure loss and begging weeds to move in)
-Low labour maintenance (I don't have time during grazing season to baby a garden)
-Use of on farm by products (such as bull shyte which I literally have loads and other such waste)
-No chemical control or fertilizers
-When annuals such as veggies are done, mulch them in place
-If possible grow a fall rye/daikon radish/hairy vetch cover crop after growth termination to over winter
-Also feed dead plant matter to ruminants
-Sunflowers are awesome
-Pumpkins are easy
-Cabbage is super veggie food (saur kraut one of the best gut healers in the world but don't be a pussy and eat with MEAT)
-Tomatoes are a pain in the ass
-Sunflowers are awesome

Thats all for now folks. How many of you listened to or watched my podcast interview with Carlo Volpe?
 

SeaKingTacco

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Why no sauerkraut with meat? We have it with sausages, all the time.
 

observor 69

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"Thats all for now folks. How many of you listened to or watched my podcast interview with Carlo Volpe?"
I did and enjoyed it as much as  I do from reading your thread. I love learning and you are a rich source of info I don't normally come upon.
Happy New Year! Looking forward to more of your observations and activities.
 

ArmyRick

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I am back. I am at the level of a low functioning primate when it comes to logging in/out. oops

Second podcast gang
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l37KfFFe_dM
 

TCM621

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I have become more and more interested interested in retiring to some sort of farming and have become intrigued at natural, or otherwise unorthodox, methods of working land. I fell down a regenerative agricultural rabbit hole the other day stating with Peter Andrews and his Natural Sequence Farming, which has had great success in Australia, then I watched a documentary about a fella who transformed a section of Saudi desert in to a lush grass land. Then I ended up watching a documentary on Allon Savoy. His thoughts of using cattle reminded me of this thread and sure enough he is mentioned here a couple time.

It seems to me the main similarities between the 3 different projects are helping water stay on the ground long enough for it to absorb it and using plants to further hold water in the ground, provide shade (slowing evaporation, and store water. It has been very interesting, so now I need more study to see how it adapts to a colder climate than Australia, Saudi Arabia or Zimbabwe.
 

ArmyRick

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Simple. Watch Gabe Brown videos on YouTube. Ta da, very big and awesome rabbit hole
 

ArmyRick

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So the California wildland fires RAGE on, again and seemingly out of control.

In my circles of holistic management and regenerative agriculture, many of the top voices (very informed voices) have been singing the same song for years!!! Brittle grasslands environment NEED herding ruminants to stay healthy. They also need elephant species (like California native Columbian mammoth and american mastadons that existed a mere 10,000 years ago, in the time of earth, that was two minutes ago)

Massive herds of WILD bison, columbian mammoths and ground sloths are LOOOONNNNGGG gone.

So we need to mimic that effect.

Mammoths, mastadons and Giant ground sloths were natural "tree managers"). They thinned out overgrown brush, kept lower branches OFF larger trees (sunlight on the canopy floor allows grasses and other ground plants to flourish with trees) and fertilized the soils, keeping soil organic matter HIGH (every % of carbon soil increase, you greatly increase water holding capacity, we are talking TONS per acre) Moist soils do not burn so easy.

Well since they are gone, WE the people need to fill in this role. We need to let the strongest trees stand, thin the weaker ones and maintain an open canopy. Wood is a totally renewable resource for energy and building material and when harvested intelligently, very non-extractive.

Next, we need herding ruminants moving through these thinned forest and building up soil organic matter with grazing, trampling and manure/urine spreading. We can use bison, cattle, sheep, goats, etc to do this (sheep and goats are very effective for high steep ranges) and then we can harvest for meat, milk and fiber (win-win-win). These livestock must be managed in a similar control method to natures predator dangers to get the correct action and not overgraze. We also have a modern component of human social values not wanting herds of livestock in the their towns and highways.

We can also increase biodiversity in these managed wildlands with mobile chicken and turkey tractors or small groups of pigs.

End result? Moist healthy plants of all types thriving in an ecosystem providing tons of food and limiting fire dangers.
 

Colin Parkinson

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BC has a program to go into a cutblock in about 5 years after planting to thin it out. While they mainly plant one species, they will mix in others depending on terrain and region.
 

FSTO

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A good description of why we need grazing animals for healthy grasslands.

From "Cattleman" Magazine

https://www.canadiancattlemen.ca/features/the-impact-of-herbivores/


The impact of herbivores

From the Ground Up with Steve Kenyon


Grasslands need the herbivore just like the herbivore needs the grasslands. It is a symbiotic relationship that has lasted thousands of years without us. Nature already had this figured out long before humans came into the picture and we need to respect the laws of nature. The problems occur when we try to manipulate nature.

Wait a minute, we can’t just look at one part of the whole. We need to add in a few more critical interactions. Enter stage right, the predator. Because of predators, the herbivores would bunch up for safety, graze an area pretty hard for a short period, then move on. Picture what that would look like afterwards. There would be high hoof impact in the area, all of the plants would be grazed or knocked to the ground and there would be lots of manure and urine left behind. The predators caused the herbivores to regeneratively graze the land. This would provide a great environment for a huge number of bugs, beetles, insects, mites and birds; just adding more symbiotic relationships to our show.

Then man came along. We scared away most of the predators and replaced the wild herbivore with a domesticated herbivore. We had to keep our animals safe and in our control so we used cowboys. Their job was to herd our animals. The cowboys still mimicked what the predators did. The herbivore still regeneratively grazed the land. No harm, no foul yet, right?

But humans naturally have to keep improving systems (which we usually screw up). We invented barbed wire. Barbed wire was one of the worst inventions we have ever had in the livestock industry. We now removed the herding management of the cowboy and allowed the animals to spread out. The devastating production practice of overgrazing began.

With one invention, we messed up the symbiotic relationship between the grassland and the herbivore. Thousands of years of perfect harmony and we can screw it up in less than 100 years. Now the herbivore is damaging the forage, the soil and the biodiversity of the whole ecosystem. Congratulations to us.

A lot of environmentalists, animal rights groups, vegans and vegetarians want to now blame the herbivore for the devastating results. Did I miss anyone? Sorry, I wouldn’t want to miss anyone who might be offended.

It is not the fault of the herbivore, or the predator. It is our fault, our management that causes damage.

Regenerative grazing is a management method that mimics what nature used to do. The four grazing concepts are the tools we use. These are: graze period, rest period, animal impact and stock density (GRAS).

We need to manage for a short enough graze period to prevent animals from grazing a plant for a second time once it starts to regrow. We don’t want them to take a second bite. We also want a long enough rest period to allow the plant to fully recover and replenish its energy stores after the first grazing.

Graze period and rest period have to work together to prevent overgrazing. Every environment is different but the most important thing to manage is the timing of the grazing. It’s the number of total paddocks in a pasture that is more important than the size of paddocks or the number of animals. In reality, when we manage a hay field, we do an excellent job of the graze period and rest period. We cut it all in a short period of time and allow a long rest period for the plants to fully recover before we cut it again. But that’s only two out of four with nature’s design.

We also have to manage the animal impact and the stock density. This is where we need the herbivore. A high stock density gives us two benefits. We get even plant use. Again, we also do a good job of this in our hay fields. Every plant is cut. When grazing we want every plant to be grazed or at least stepped on and flattened.

But the haybine does not give us manure and urine. This is provided by the herbivore. This is where our lead actress enters. She recycles 80 per cent of what she consumes. The higher the stock density, the better the spread of nutrients on the land.

The last concept is animal impact. I used to say this was the physical stimulation on the soil by the animal’s hooves. This physical stimulation can break the soil cap to allow water infiltration. It can create seed-to-soil contact and cause new seedlings to germinate. It can push plant material to the ground to help speed litter decomposition.

These things are all still true, but there was a huge side to animal impact that I was unaware of for many years. Enter stage left, the biology: bacteria, fungus, protozoa, nematodes, earthworms, insects, etc. The physical impacts you might be able to mimic with a set of harrows, but you won’t get the biological impact without the herbivore. It is the biology that comes with the manure and urine. It adds biology and is also food for biology. That manure is the greatest compost you can ever add to your soil. The urine is the greatest biological tea you could ever add to your soil.

Everybody loves new equipment. So here it is, the most effective piece of equipment you will ever own. The herbivore is a self-propelled and solar-powered forage composter with an automatic manure spreader attachment out the back end. They are also a fantastic compost tea applicator. Some models have the sprayer nozzles out the rear of the applicator while others have the sprayer nozzles beneath the undercarriage. Are you interested?

There is also biology added to the soil from the saliva of the herb­ivore as well as the phlegm. Even the hair coat sheds biology that can stimulate the soil. I would guess that there are more symbiotic relationships between the herbivore and the soil than we can count. You don’t get that from the haybine.

The action of grazing also stimulates the plants to grow. The “tug” on the top of the plants pulls at the roots just enough to stimulate more growth. This could cause deeper root growth or even cause tillering of the upper plant. The herbivore not only shares the environment with thousands of other species but they also enhance and stimulate it. It’s the whole ecosystem that works together. Plants, predators, herbivores, soil critters, insects, birds, bugs, beetles… need I go on? The world is a stage, and we need all of them to play a part.

Animal impact is crucial to the regeneration of our grasslands. It’s a part of the big picture. We need the herbivore on the land and we need her to be managed in a regenerative manner. Remove her from the play and the whole system falls apart. We need to mimic nature. It worked for thousands of years without us.
 

Good2Golf

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This continues to be a fantastic learning thread, thanks Rick and others! :salute:
 

SeaKingTacco

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Some years ago, I had reason to be in contact with land managers from the Praire Farm Rehabilitation Agency (PFRA). Amongst other things, they manage community grazing pastures in the Prairie provinces.

They were a fascinating bunch to talk to. They had a deep love for the land how herbivores benefitted and (potentially) could harm an ecosystem.

One thing that always stuck with me was a conversation about Plains Bison. Before Europeans showed up in North America, the Natives managed the open plains by fire which created habitat for an estimated 60 million Bison.

Today, we have about 60 million cattle in North America. Cattle are not perfect replacements for Bison. As noted above, Ranchers and Farmers tend to use barbed wire instead of herding animals. With said, in community pastures, the PFRA really tries to herd the cattle and move them around to prevent overgrazing. From what I observed, community pastures had healthier soil structure and much more diverse ecosystems than the surrounding mono-culture farms.

That really opened my eyes.
 

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ArmyRick - one of the eye-opening things I learned years ago, is that some biomes need to periodically burn. Certain key native plant species have adapted such that their seeds will only properly germinate after exposure to fire. Regions of California fall into this category. That, coupled with the fact that much of California is naturally a very arid environment prior to our interference complicates it. Humans have moved into the area, and created conditions ideal for massive landslides and fires. 

I wish I could remember the reference, but there was an interesting article on how large mammals were vital to the northern ecosystems, especially in Siberia. Through their elimination (partly climate, partly us), those ecosystems are being forced into change.

Final trivia point from my daughter - apparently our garden variety earthworms are not native to North America. They were introduced long ago. They've been outcompeting the fungal networks that were key to the ecology of our Boreal Forrest floor, and disrupting it badly.
 

Donald H

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Staff Weenie said:
Final trivia point from my daughter - apparently our garden variety earthworms are not native to North America. They were introduced long ago. They've been outcompeting the fungal networks that were key to the ecology of our Boreal Forrest floor, and disrupting it badly.

Fortunately they're still hard to find in forests that are ten miles away from civilization. In B.C. at least. But around remote lakes where people go fishing, pretty easy to find.
 

SeaKingTacco

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Staff Weenie said:
ArmyRick - one of the eye-opening things I learned years ago, is that some biomes need to periodically burn. Certain key native plant species have adapted such that their seeds will only properly germinate after exposure to fire. Regions of California fall into this category. That, coupled with the fact that much of California is naturally a very arid environment prior to our interference complicates it. Humans have moved into the area, and created conditions ideal for massive landslides and fires. 

I wish I could remember the reference, but there was an interesting article on how large mammals were vital to the northern ecosystems, especially in Siberia. Through their elimination (partly climate, partly us), those ecosystems are being forced into change.

Final trivia point from my daughter - apparently our garden variety earthworms are not native to North America. They were introduced long ago. They've been outcompeting the fungal networks that were key to the ecology of our Boreal Forrest floor, and disrupting it badly.

Re: earthworms. Absolutely true. They are an introduced species and have totally changed the soil structure of North America. Look for a book called “Prairie: a Natural History” by Candace Savage. She goes into detail about earthworms and much, much, more.

Re: North American megafauna. Most of that (Mammoths, Sabretooth Tigers, giant bears, etc) disappeared about 10,000 years ago. The jury is still out on whether that was caused by the end of the ice age and climate change or by hunting pressure from humans. But, you are correct- once they disappeared, things changed. Giant Condors, evolved to feed on dead Mammoths, have almost gone extinct themselves. Avocado trees evolved to be eaten and propagated by Mammoths, as the seed is “designed” to go through the digestive tract of a very large mammal before getting deposited in a big pile of dung. They were nearly extinct, too, before being commercially cultivated.

Had all of the megafauna of North America not disappeared, would the landscape look more like African Savanah country, than large forests stretching for 1000s of Kms? It is an interesting thought experiment. 
 

ArmyRick

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Some things to add.

When looking at grazing effect in the biomes here in Canada, one should understand the Savory brittle scale (very dry low rainfall and moisture to very high moisture areas). It is influenced by the presence of bodies of water and the presence of plants (surprisingly, as an area turns to desert, it gets worse for local H2O cycling as the high heat energy reflected off the ground from the sun acutually creates heat pockets that repel clouds, see Dr Walter Jenhe for detailed explanation)

Here in Ontario, we are fortunate to be surrounded by the great lakes and a million other lakes. Lots of moisture. Unfortunately it allows cash croppers to believe in plowing and earth ripping frequently as the moisture keeps damage to a minimum. In the prairies, not so.

Our stock density for well managed grazing is much lower than the west. We generally can run about 50,000-100,000 lbs of ruminant to the acre for 24 hours. Go much higher. and you have to move more frequently.

In the prairies, they can go upwards of 500,000-1,000,000 pounds of ruminant to the acre for 24 hours.

Now our high moisture allows us in Ontario to return more frequently (3-7 weeks depending on time of year), where as the prairies need 3-6 months recovery.

Got to scoot. Feed time. Will continue later.
 

Gunnar

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I have this vision of myself, sometime in the future being asked "why do you know so much about environmentally neutral farming?" and being able to proudly answer "Army.ca, of course" to mystified looks and confusion...

See, it's all about teaching the bovines the elements of good drill....;-)

A good read however.  You clearly know your stuff.  Thanks.
 

daftandbarmy

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SeaKingTacco said:
Re: earthworms. Absolutely true. They are an introduced species and have totally changed the soil structure of North America. Look for a book called “Prairie: a Natural History” by Candace Savage. She goes into detail about earthworms and much, much, more.

Re: North American megafauna. Most of that (Mammoths, Sabretooth Tigers, giant bears, etc) disappeared about 10,000 years ago. The jury is still out on whether that was caused by the end of the ice age and climate change or by hunting pressure from humans. But, you are correct- once they disappeared, things changed. Giant Condors, evolved to feed on dead Mammoths, have almost gone extinct themselves. Avocado trees evolved to be eaten and propagated by Mammoths, as the seed is “designed” to go through the digestive tract of a very large mammal before getting deposited in a big pile of dung. They were nearly extinct, too, before being commercially cultivated.

Had all of the megafauna of North America not disappeared, would the landscape look more like African Savanah country, than large forests stretching for 1000s of Kms? It is an interesting thought experiment.

Welcome to the Pre-Columbian Savanna!

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pre-Columbian_savannas_of_North_America#:~:text=The%20Eastern%20savannas%20of%20the,52%25%20of%20the%20upland%20areas.
 

ArmyRick

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I may be a some what smart farmer but most definitely an idiot in other areas. Oct 31 (Halloween) and I just spent five minutes trying to get flies off my computer screen only to realize they were bats on the army.ca page display.
 
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