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A different way to graden/farm/improve soil
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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun 2001
    The Great State of Mind

    A different way to graden/farm/improve soil

    There was a thread a few days ago I could not find now, but will start a new one.

    Organic gardeners tend to rely on composting and this method relies upon soil bacteria.

    Using this type of wood chips, per this article, will provide a good alternative to composting with better overall results.

  2. #2

    Composting and this method are the same in relation to bacteria.

    Composting and this method are the same in relation to bacteria. The trouble with composting is that it should be done under cover otherwise most of the minerals will leach into the soil below the compost heap. Good compost takes about two years to produce not two weeks.

  3. #3

    The Life Cycle and Compost

    The Life Cycle and Compost

    Every living thing will die sooner or later. After its life energy leaves, it soon decays, which is a most necessary process. The decaying process returns the dead plants and animals back to earth, back towards the raw elements from which they were made. These elements become the nutrition and vitality to feed the next generation of plants and then animals.

    The decaying-or better called disassembling process is performed by billions of little creatures we call microorganisms. They will do their job with or without our help. In fact, it is almost impossible to stop them. The microorganisms can turn our organic (once alive) waste back into fertilizer for our farms and gardens, but in big cities where most waste is generated, it is usually dumped in a landfill where these life-sustaining nutrients are locked away from the natural life-death-decay cycle. Few people realize this great loss to our well-being and prosperity.

    The microorganisms can be helped and managed in this return cycle. Composting is our term for helping and managing them.

    Home Garden Composting

    No yard waste should ever be sent to the landfill. If you like the clean, manicured look and think grass clippings must be caught and leaves raked, then do that, but be sure you make use of those clippings and leaves when you are done. Compost them to be used as a soil conditioner/fertilizer in the garden or as a mulch around shrubs and trees to retain moisture, control soil temperatures, and supply dozens of nutritional needs.

    The compost pile can be free-standing or in an enclosure of some type. Concrete blocks or lumber are used for enclosures, but I think the most practical is close mesh wire 1/2 to 1/4 inches between strands, 3 to 4 feet wide, and 9 feet or longer, fenced together in a circle. A nine-foot length will make about a three-foot circle. I like a larger circle myself because a larger pile can retain the heat and moisture better. The circle can be placed anywhere convenient except where water could run off a roof onto it.

    To make compost, the microbes need air, water, carbon material for an energy source, and protein (nitrogen) material to build their bodies from. Even though most materials contain carbon and nitrogen, high carbon materials are sawdust, dried leaves, bark, wood chips, dried grass, or any organic material that you can put on a pile and moisten and nothing happens. It doesn't smell, draw flies or seem to ever rot. High protein or nitrogen materials are manure, kitchen waste, green vegetable matter, animal matter such as blood meal, fish meal, or any organic material that quickly rots, smells, and draws flies when wet.

    To build the compost pile, start adding organic materials as they become available. Use all kitchen and yard organic waste except meat unless you have a pile large enough for burying the meat very deep. Grinding the larger twigs and leaves will make them compost faster, or you can just throw them in and later pick or screen them out and put them back to inoculate the next piles until they are completely broken down. I prefer the picking out or screening; it takes less energy and the large twigs help hold the materials apart to aerate better. Adding horse or cow manure up to 25% or chicken manure up to 10% makes a good rich compost. Too much manure could cause it to get smelly if it is not aerated enough or if it gets too wet. Green grass clippings and kitchen waste have ample nitrogen if manure isn't readily available. To inoculate-or get those microorganisms working-in the beginning, a commercial inoculator can be purchased or a few shovels full of garden soil will do the job. Don't use too much dirt because it adds weight and compresses the pile and makes it harder to turn.

    It is always better to start the compost pile with the carbon materials and add the nitrogen materials a little at a time until the microbes are really working, creating heat without a smell or flies. Then you will know you have the correct carbon to nitrogen (C/N) ratio and can continue building the compost pile successfully. Like any other plant or animal, the microbes need air and water, but they don't like to be drowned. Just keep the pile moist - much like a squeezed-out sponge. And turn or mix it for aeration.

    After the first pile is ready, use some of it-such as the larger twigs to inoculate the next. The compost pile should be aerated. Loose light piles need aeration about once a month. A tight heavier pile will require more aeration, but more than every third day is unnecessary. The pile can be turned with a garden fork or shovel, but the easiest is with a compost turning probe. This is a tool about the size and shape of a walking cane with two wings that fold into a point when pushed into the pile but spread open when pulled up. This doesn't require a lot of strength. On the up stroke, the pile is torn open and some of the bottom is brought toward the top. It is a quick, easy way to aerate a home-garden size pile.

    Another easy way to turn the pile is to unpin the wire cage; take it from around the pile; pin it back together next to it, then put the material back in. Each pile should be turned at least once like this to be sure the outside ends up in the middle so it can go through the heating process.

    If you have a large garden and enjoy making compost, a number of these wire circle cages can be used. You can keep building them until the first pile is ready, then you empty it and start over. The compost is ready to use when the materials have turned brown and most of them have lost their identity. The material should have an earthy smell.

    If your soil is lacking in certain elements, the best way to add them is through the compost pile. Add rock phosphate for phosphorous, granite sand or wood ashes for potash; you can even add minerals like iron sulfate, zinc sulfate, and magnesium sulfate. I know these are chemical, and against organic gardeners' principals, but when the microorganisms get through with them in the compost pile, they will be naturally chelated into an organic form that will remain available to plant-use even in alkaline soils.

    I like to wet the pile, if needed, with a fish emulsion solution-6 to 12 tablespoons per gallon of water. This adds nitrogen but never too much at one time, plus it contains all the nutrients for the microbes and later on your plants.

    Unwanted insects such as pill bugs and ants will get into the compost pile. Turning often and keeping the moisture just right so the pile heats up to 140 to 160 degrees will discourage them. Heat, however, isn't absolutely necessary to make compost. I have never seen a forest floor heat up.

    Making compost is as much an art as it is a science. The best way to learn to make good compost is by doing it and not giving up. Most home garden compost failures are caused by simply keeping the pile too wet. In a rainy season you may cover the top with plastic, but not for too long because you might smother it and cause it to smell, I like to heap up the center of the pile so it sheds water like a thatch roof.

    Composting is not only practicing good ecology. You are making plant foods and soil conditioner Nature's own way, with little or no expense to your pocketbook.

    Large Scale Composting

    Composting is the art of working with the decay or rotting processes in an economical way. Nature takes care of the science, so we must think economics. A measure of compost contains only so much energy, and if we expend more than that amount to make that measure of compost, we gain nothing.

    For some mysterious reason, when industrial and municipal authorities approach composting as a method of disposing of their waste, they always look toward sophisticated, highly technical equipment that takes months, even years, to build and costs big bucks-just to perform a process Mother Nature has been doing simply since the beginning.

    At Garden-Ville's composting plant near San Antonio, we compost over a 150,000 cubic yards annually with only one piece of equipment-an articulated loader that cost $60,000. A vibrating screen is used for cosmetic reasons only after the compost is ready but before it is sold. The screen removes plastic, trash, rocks, and bottles, which seem always to find their way into the compostable materials. It also makes the product pretty and uniform.

    We make compost in static piles; we sell by volume, so we have to watch for shrinkage. If we have time to wait, we only turn four times. If we need to speed up the process before the spring market demand, then we turn more often-five to six times. Besides manure from many sources, we compost slaughterhouse waste, vegetable waste, and brewery waste. For carbon and bulking materials we use sawdust, rice hulls, peanut hulls, wood shavings, and reground tree trimmings.

    We build piles from five to ten thousand cubic yards each, depending on how fast the raw materials become available. The material is piled as high as the loader can reach, up to twelve feet. In a real dry season we may have to water the pile, but if we get our average annual rainfall, the material comes in with ample moisture to start the composting process and the rainfall replenishes evaporation.

    Composting microorganisms need carbon, nitrogen, oxygen, and moisture, and any one of the four can be jiggled around to prevent smelly conditions. The one you have least control of is water because of the unpredictable weather. After a few years of operation, we got a feel for the correct carbon-nitrogen ratio and learned to make huge piles with the least amount of aerating.

    We use an area of about nine acres. We start the piles a distance from the screen, and with each turning we move the pile closer. When the compost is ready, it is nearest the screen. This process-start to finish--takes from four to seven months.

    With normal rainfall, the large piles absorb the water without too much leaching; however, during a heavy rainy season we have leaching and it is drained off into a grassy field, which filters it pretty well. We have close neighbors, and so far none have complained about run-off or smell. We have also been inspected by the health department, E.P.A., air quality control, and the water district in charge of our aquifer. None of them had any complaints.

    We are in our thirtieth year of operation and, of course; we started small and had fly problems, but as we grew the fly problem got less and less until there are almost none. I am not sure what to attribute it to-either better material handling or fly parasites, probably a combination of both. I have watched two different compost plants go into business in my area. Both used fancy, sophisticated equipment or buildings, much too expensive. They tried to over-manage Nature, and neither survived. They both visited us before starting up and said they were going to make a better product. One bragged he would make compost in seven days when it took me four to six months. I asked him, "How long will it take to build your plant?" "Five months," he said. If I started production the same day he started construction, I could have a product to sell before he even finished his building. In reality, the open air, slow process is just as fast or faster. A digester or any type in vessel facility is also limited in capacity. Open air composting has no limit.

    We composted sludge (solid waste from a municipal sewage system) on two different occasions, but learned it had to be composted at a separate location because the home gardeners were always worried we would load them from the wrong pile. Sludge needs to be handled a little differently. We made the piles much smaller; we used the row method: piles ten feet high and about twenty feet wide at the base and the length was determined by convenience. We composted it for twelve months or longer, and we used our largest particle-bulking agent, which was tree trimmings. Two parts trimmings and one part sludge was a good blend, and we turned it only after each rain. A sludge compost operation ideally should be built on a slight grade starting at the low end and each turning moves the piles up hill, so the leaching during heavy rains will always run from the oldest, ready-to-sell pile, into a freshly-made pile. It would also be good to catch the leachings in a lagoon and aerate it until a dry season, then spray it back on unfinished piles.

    We found the longer sludge was composted, the safer it was and the less sludge odor it had. Also, we could screen through three screen sizes to make three different products: one for lawns, one for bed preparation, and one for mulch. I believe any local horticultural, landscaping industry could use up the total supply of sludge from their town or city and not even have enough once they learned its value.

    There is no hard-to-master scientific knowledge or expensive building or equipment needed to make compost, only an understanding of eighth-grade biology, time, space, and a desire to work with Nature.

    I have consulted with many cities, garbage hauling companies, dairies, and feedlots and their reasons for composting are always to save land-fill space or get rid of a waste product. Few people really understand why Nature decays dead things and where man fits into this cycle.

    The Garden-Ville Method - Lessons in Nature

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jun 2001
    The Great State of Mind
    Standard organic practices promote a relatively high population of soil bacteria. The ramial chip method produces a soil whose primary population is fungi. The ramial method incorporates 10 times as much lignin into the soil compared standard composting methods.

    Forests dominate open areas naturally because the fungi work with the tree roots to make the soil more fertile, freeing up insoluble potash and other insoluble minerals (such as silica).

    Overall I like this method due to its relative simplicity and long duration of fertilization effect. Also the fungi do not stop being active during the colder months as bacteria do.

    Complimentary to this method (and to any organic method) is inoculating transplant roots with mycorrhyzea (benefitial fungi) which grow with and cooperate with the above grond plant, producing a better yeild, better soil water management and decreased pathogen levels.

    Just my 2˘

  5. #5

    The most numerous organisms in a compost pile are bacteria

    The most numerous organisms in a compost pile are bacteria. Although bacteria are too small to be seen individually, the effects of their work are easy to detect. Bacteria generate the heat associated with composting, and perform the primary breakdown of organic materials, setting the stage for larger decomposers to continue the job.

    Bacteria don't have to be added to the compost pile. They inhabit virtually every surface and enter the pile on every single bit of organic matter. Initially their numbers may be modest, but given the proper conditions (proper moisture and aeration, a favorable balance of carbon and nitrogen, and lots of surface area to work on) bacteria can reproduce at a remarkable rate.

    Many species of bacteria are at work in the compost pile. Each type thrives on special conditions and different types of organic materials. Even at temperatures below freezing, some bacteria can be at work on organic matter. These psychrophilic bacteria (a grouping of bacterial species that includes all those working in the lowest temperature range) do their best work at about 55°F, but they are able to carry on right down to 0°F. As these bacteria eat away at organic materials they give off a small amount of heat. If conditions are right for them to grow and reproduce rapidly, this heat will be sufficient to set the stage for the next group, the mesophylic bacteria, or middle temperature range bacteria.

    Mesophilic bacteria thrive at temperatures from 70°F to 90°F, and just survive between 40°F to 70°F, and 90°F to 110°F. In many compost piles, these efficient mid-range bacteria do most of the work. However, given optimal conditions, they produce enough heat to kick in the real hot shots, the thermophilic, or heat-loving bacteria.

    Thermophilic bacteria work fast, in a temperature range of 104°F to 170°F. In a matter of days they turn green, gold, and tan organic material into a uniform deep brown.

    In all of this work, the bacteria are not alone—though at first they are the most active decomposers. Other microbes, fungi, and a host of invertebrates take part in the composting process. Some are active in the heating cycle, but most organisms prefer the cooler temperatures. They proliferate in cold compost piles and along the cooler outer edges of hot piles or when hot piles start to stabilize at lower temperatures.


    Actinomycetes are a type of primary decomposer common in the early stages of the pile. Actinomycetes produce grayish, cobwebby growths throughout compost that give the pile a pleasing, earthy smell similar to a rotting log. They prefer woody materials and survive a wide range of temperatures and conditions.

    Fungi also perform primary decomposition in the compost pile. Fungi send out thin mycelial fibers like roots, far from their spore-forming reproductive structures. The most common of the reproductive structures are mushrooms, which sometimes pop up on a cool pile. Though fungi are major decomposers in the compost pile, fungal decomposition is not as efficient as bacterial decay. The growth of fungi, even more than that of bacteria, is greatly restricted by cold temperatures. Since they have no chlorophyll, fungi must obtain their food from plants and animals. Parasitic fungi exist on living plants or animals. Most fungi are saprophytic, living on decayed vegetable and animal remains.

  6. #6


    From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    Jump to: navigation, search
    Not to be confused with Lignan.
    Lignin (sometimes "lignen") is a complex chemical compound most commonly derived from wood and an integral part of the cell walls of plants.[1] The term was introduced in 1819 by de Candolle and is derived from the Latin word lignum,[2] meaning wood. It is the most abundant organic polymer on Earth after cellulose, employing 30% of non-fossil organic carbon[3] and constituting from a quarter to a third of the dry mass of wood. The compound has several unusual properties as a biopolymer, not least its heterogeneity in lacking a defined primary structure.

    [edit] Biological function
    Lignin fills the spaces in the cell wall between cellulose, hemicellulose and pectin components, especially in tracheids, sclereids and xylem. It is covalently linked to hemicellulose and thereby crosslinks different plant polysaccharides, conferring mechanical strength to the cell wall and by extension the plant as a whole.[4] It is particularly abundant in compression wood, but curiously scarce in tension wood.

    Lignin plays a crucial part in conducting water in plant stems. The polysaccharide components of plant cell walls are highly hydrophilic and thus permeable to water, whereas lignin is more hydrophobic. The crosslinking of polysaccharides by lignin is an obstacle for water absorption to the cell wall. Thus, lignin makes it possible for the plant's vascular tissue to conduct water efficiently.[5] Lignin is present in all vascular plants, but not in bryophytes, supporting the idea that the original function of lignin was restricted to water transport.

    Lignin is indigestible by mammalian and other animal enzymes, but some fungi and bacteria are able to biodegrade the polymer. The details of the reaction scheme of the biodegradation are not fully understood to date. These reactions depend on the type of wood decay - in fungi either brown rot, soft rot or white rot. The enzymes involved may employ free radicals for depolymerization reactions.[6] Well understood lignolytic enzymes are manganese peroxidase, lignin peroxidase and cellobiose dehydrogenase. Furthermore, because of its cross-linking with the other cell wall components, it minimizes the accessibility of cellulose and hemicellulose to microbial enzymes. Hence, lignin is generally associated with reduced digestibility of the over all plant biomass, which helps defend against pathogens and pests.[5]

    Lignin peroxidase (also "ligninase", EC number 1.14.99) is a hemoprotein from the white-rot fungus Phanerochaete chrysosporium with a variety of lignin-degrading reactions, all dependent on hydrogen peroxide to incorporate molecular oxygen into reaction products. There are also several other microbial enzymes that are believed to be involved in lignin biodegradation, such as manganese peroxidase, laccase and cellobiose dehydrogenase.

    [edit] Ecological function
    Lignin plays a significant role in the carbon cycle, sequestering atmospheric carbon into the living tissues of woody perennial vegetation. Lignin is one of the most slowly decomposing components of dead vegetation, contributing a major fraction of the material that becomes humus as it decomposes. The resulting soil humus generally increases the photosynthetic productivity of plant communities growing on a site as the site transitions from disturbed mineral soil through the stages of ecological succession, by providing increased cation exchange capacity in the soil and expanding the capacity of moisture retention between flood and drought conditions.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Sep 2004
    Ottawa Valley,ON, Canada
    Uhh itty
    are you trying to produce soil for your forest? or your garden?
    Be advised a number of tree species produce their own "herbicides" to outcompete other vegetation types this may be introduced into your "compost".
    While producing your tree "compost" what are you doing with you garden clippings, kitchen scraps etc.
    Basically seems like a lot of extra work for the same benefit as classical composting.

  8. #8

    A Short cut to get the same benifits

    100% Soluble Australian K-humate™
    Improves Soils, Increases Yields & Reduces Fertiliser Costs!

    The Benefits of Using Humates by Dr Sam Heng - Omnia Specialities Australia Pty Ltd
    Improved Fertiliser Use and Reduced Costs
    All sandy soils have very open structures and allow good drainage of water. These open structures and free draining properties also allow most of the nutrients from applied fertilisers to pass through the soil. The surfaces of the sand particles have very poor ability to hold water and nutrients. As a result, these nutrients are lost into the groundwater and become unavailable to the plants. The loss of nutrients through leaching is both a great economic cost to the grower and a detriment to the environment. A fertile soil is always rich in organic matter. The organic matter provides most of the soils ability to hold and make nutrients available to the plants. High quality plant organic matter is rich in humates which contain carboxylic and phenolic groups. It is these molecules, with their negatively charged surfaces, which hold most of the nutrients from applied fertilisers. Humates, like soil organic matter, also hold water very well.

    K-humate soil conditioner improves a soil’s ability to hold water and nutrients by coating itself onto the surfaces, or trapping itself in cracks and pores, of the soil particles and thereby improving the nutrient retention ability of their surfaces. This makes the sandy soil more effective in retaining nutrients such as ammonium, potassium, calcium, magnesium and more importantly, most the essential trace elements. As a result, there is increased availability of nutrients in the soil, greater uptake of nutrients by plants, reduced fertiliser wastage and reduced costs.
    Humate benefits heavy clay soils
    K-humate also benefits heavy clayey soils which are often compact and impenetrable to water. These types of soils are commonly waterlogged during the cold wet season and hard and prone to shrinkage during the hot dry season. Both these conditions are unsuitable for plant growth. When the soils dry out, water molecules are removed from between these clay particles. This removal of water allows the clay particles to move very close together and as a result, shrink in volume and form cracks in the ground. This cracking in the ground is a common feature in clayey soils which are poor or devoid of organic matter. The presence of plant organic matter such as K-humate can either help prevent these hard compact soils from occurring or slowly improve soils which have deteriorated. K-humate will interact with the clay particles and prevent them from flocculating (sticking closely together) when they dry out in the hot dry season. The large humate molecules are able to keep the clay particles apart so that water or nutrients can more easily penetrate the clay and prevent them from shrinking.

    Humates Reduce Soil Acidity

    The use of inorganic fertilisers such as superphosphates and compound sulphate fertilisers will result in soil chemical reactions which lead to increasing soil acidity. This occurs because when plants take up the applied nutrients such as Ca, Mg or K ions, and their roots exchange these alkaline ions with acidic H ions. Over a period of time, the removal of the alkaline ions and the increase of H ions in the soil will result in a highly acidic soil. Often, farmers attempt to correct soil acidity by applying agricultural lime or dolomite. This is a slow process, and usually by this time much damage has already occurred to the soil structure. Soil structures deteriorate under conditions of high acidity or alkalinity. The presence of soil organic matter, including humates, are effective at buffering soil chemical reactions. This results in a more gentle soil chemical reaction and less stress for the plant roots. This nutrient exchange reaction is illustrated in the opposite diagram which shows how the buffering action of K-humate is helping reduce soil acidity. K-humate is able to chelate the applied nutrients such as Ca, Mg, and the essential trace elements (Zn, Cu, Fe, Mn) and buffer the acidity caused by the release of acidic H ion when plant exchange H for the nutrients.

  9. #9

    ��Liquid Humates: Food source for fungi.

    Food Amendments
    ��Liquid Humates: Food source for fungi.
    ��Hydrolysed Fish: Food source for fungi.
    ��Liquid Nutrient: Commercially produced bacterial and fungal food source.
    ��Cottonseed Meal: Bacterial and fungal food source.
    ��Kelp Meal: Bacterial and fungal nutrients.
    ��Greensand: Source of micronutrients.
    ��Feed Hay: Food source for protozoa.
    ��Fish Emulsion: Food source for bacteria.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jun 2001
    The Great State of Mind
    My search has to do with finding ways to grow food in a natural way which has as little reliance on importing materials onto the farm as possible. Also to reduce the overall amount of effort/fuel used to maintain the system.

    The original research in the primary link on the first post relates that disciduous branch wood or North Maerican temperate species is best, where conifer wood is least benefitial. Also woods such as walnut should be avoided. They suggest that red oak is the best over all.

    The work done by the researchers in Quebec is very thorough and worth review. It may be of benefit to try this as an experiment on a small test plot in ones own garden.

    That is all I am suggesting. It is novel, and typically it is novel techniques that provide for the next step in terms of developing better techniques.

    The prior poster (other thread) had asked for help with poor soil remediation. This was intended to assist that search.

  11. #11

    I have used a hardwood chip a lot in Australia

    All these good and so called bad wood types if left to compost long enough end up about the same quality. The bad stuff will leach stuff into the soil as it breaks down into lets call it humus. This bad stuff upsets / displaces good soil micro life for a time until the breakdown process neutralizers it. So provided you dump the bad material in an area that you can leave for about two years max then you will get roughly the same benefit as using the good material.

    I have used fresh hardwood chip a lot in Australia that keeps the worms out of the soil underneath it for six to eight months when it is left to compost. When I find that the worms have moved into it I would then transfer it to the garden but not before.

    I read a good book by a forester who explained that good humus takes around two years to develop its full biological properties.


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