VetusLignum wrote:Listen to the video, it's really worth it.
Not even a French subtitle, it would be nice to make a summary for non-English speakers
Gabe Brown is an American farmer based in North Dakota, a cold region. He was a follower of conventional agriculture, with tillage, fertilizers, phytos.
In 1991, he realized that his organic matter rate was below 2%, when he should have been around 7%.
In 1994, a friend of his who had gone to no-till advised him to do so too. He advised her to sell all of her equipment, so as not to be tempted to go back. And so, since 1994, it has been 100% plowing-free. That year, he also started to put peas, in order to take advantage of the symbiotic fixation of nitrogen.
In 1995, he lost all of his crops due to hail.
Afterwards, he put a mixture of triticale and hairy vetch during the winter.
In 1996, he tried corn, but again lost everything because of the hail.
Financially, it became difficult.
In 1997, there was a drought, and in 1998, more hail.
Afterwards, he put a mixture of cornilla and sorghum to feed his cattle. In fact, he sent his cattle to graze their cover crops in the fields.
From there, after 4 years without crops, he found that the quality of his soil was improving.
He considers that, to succeed in agriculture, you have to follow nature: no mechanical working of the soil, soil always covered (by plants), recycling of minerals by biology.
Root exudates nourish microbes, and contribute (after being transformed into carbonic acid) to degrade the parent rock.
For him, the best combination is: no-tillage, diversity of cultivated plants, integration of livestock (to graze the fields, at least in winter), almost no synthetics (herbicide occasionally, but no pesticides or fungicides , or even fertilizer). The important thing is to see its exploitation as an ecosystem.
Its only inputs are seeds and a few minerals for livestock.
So it's the soil carbon so the most important thing, since that's what gives the nutrients to the plants, and it's what allows the soil to infiltrate and conserve water.
Once water has been removed from a plant, 97% of the material consists of carbon, oxygen, hydrogen, and nitrogen; and all of that is available in the air, and free.
Nutrients are present in the soil, and it's the biology of the soil (nourished by carbon) that makes them available to plants.
In its region, the cold makes it possible to destroy cover crops. Otherwise, you must choose species that can be destroyed with a roller.
Tillage destroys the soil structure, reduces water infiltration, organic matter, and promotes garbage. It must be planted in the residues (of the cover crop) with a suitable seed drill.
synthetic fertilizers should not be stopped until the soil has become alive. By ceasing fertilizers, mycorrhizae develop, and the soil is structured into aggregates.
Most improved varieties cannot get mycorrhizer. It is therefore important to make sure that what you plant can get mycorrhizer, and to save its seeds.
He inoculates his garden with mycorrhizal mushrooms from soil from wild meadows (commercial inoculants do not contain the best species).
A live root all year round (and therefore a cover crop during the winter) helps keep them active. And of course, avoid tillage, phytos, and synthetic fertilizers.
In 2005, its F / B ratio (fungi / bacteria) was 67%, while that of the neighbor was 10%. An ideal ratio would be 100% (1/1).
Leaving residue on the soil helps regulate the soil temperature. 21 degrees is the ideal temperature; beyond, the water evaporates instead of being used for plants. There are more earthworms. With living soil you can extend the growing season
Applying a herbicide does less harm to the soil than mechanical work. But he avoids glyphosate because it kills too many things (however, he doesn't list the herbicides he uses). He considers himself very close to being organic.
Regarding cover crops, it is preferable to multiply the species; this increases resilience to climate risks. Plants are more in symbiosis than in competition. It is important that there are always plants growing, in order to collect a maximum of solar energy.
Each species in the cover crop has a purpose.
Some attract beneficial insects, which fight against pests (therefore, no need for pesticides, especially since these kill useful insects).
Daikon radishes can pierce the compacted layer of soil, and thus improve water infiltration.
Cover crop residues prevent garbage from growing.