Answer Board

"Can I mix chicken manure in water and spread it around my tomato plants?"

Chicken manure is very good to use:
•    Don’t dilute in water to prevent contamination of fruits that may fall on the ground.
•    Best to incorporate into the ground directly without processing it. Push down and mix it into the soil.
•    If you have access to limestone, mix chicken manure with limestone, it will spread more easily.
•    Spread about 15 cm distance around the plant stalk.
•    If you wrap a net on the plant so the fruits don’t fall on the ground, you can let  chicken roam around and peck at the soil.

Rodale Institute

"How can I manage invasive Nutsedge Nutgrass weeds?"

Cyperus esculentus and C. rotundas are grasses considered weeds and cause a major problem in agriculture all over the world. They have proven unresponsive to chemical control, solarization under clear plastic has some effectiveness, but any tubers which survive 30 cm below the surface create a persistent problem.

 

Chemical agriculture’s promises of magic cures proved to be short term solutions and ineffectual in the long run. Conventional agriculture of the last 70 years has been responsible for 1/3 of arable lands every year, to be lost to soil degradation globally (UNFAO).

 

It is worthwhile to look back at age old practices of animal integration on farms. Not only did poultry and ruminants benefit soil fertility with manure application, but poultry, allowed to roam around on fields, prove to be very effective at eating pests and pigs were also used to root out destructive weeds and tubers, so have geese.

 

As far as Nutgrass is concerned, there are several measures that are recommended to prevent or cure their spread. The most effective way is by using pigs, who seem to be able to reduce their population in a relatively short time period. Pigs readily root up and consume the tubers they find succulent and sweet, increasing body weight and milk production.

Pigs are able to remove the tubers even when the soil is compacted, but find it easier when it’s wet. Consider letting your pigs roam during the raining season, as rain puddles allows tubers buried deep to be accessible.

In India, where pigs are used in rice fields, “each animal can collect 2-4 kg of tubers in one day; 25-30 animals per acre (50-60 animals per hectare) can remove the available tubers within a day.” http://threeissues.sdsu.edu/three_issues_coquillofacts01.html

Carefully review the article in eOrganics https://eorganic.org/node/5134 as well.

 

Consider transitioning your farming methods to regenerative agriculture principles and practices, which increases yields, reduces inputs, prevents weeds, pests and diseases. Learn to increase your Soil Organic Matter profile by adopting polyculture plantings, crop rotations and other practices that can help change your soil profile to favor your crops, instead of your weeds, both of which have very different nutritional requirements. Most weeds thrive in oxidized soils caused by tilling, fertilizers and chemicals. Learn to feed your soil’s billions of organisms and watch  persistent problems slowly disappear.

                 

Be mindful that it takes patience and most importantly, a wiliness to change. The profitability of your farm will increase, as you eliminate chemical inputs, increase your yields and quality of your crops. As far as animal integration is concerned, the added benefits of adding various animals to your farm means stacked enterprises; more ways to make money with their meat, egg, skin, fur.