Basics of soil management
With Natural Farming soil management,we make soil that energizes the roots and provides habitat for microorganisms.
* Do not till the land *
In natural farming we do not till the land. We regard mechanical tillage needless because soil is already tilling itself. Microorganisms are nature's tillers; not machines. Man has to therefor focus on serving the microorganisms.
Just cover a rock-hard soil with straw and it won't take long before it becomes soft and puffy. Soil shielded from sun ray will keep the moisture, boosting the propagation of microorganisms and fungus. Nematodes gather to feed on them, followed by earthworms.
Earthworms are miraculous creatures. They dig 4 to 7 meters into the ground to drink water, they eat 20 to 30 liters soil per year; turning them rich. Earthworm also induce mole crickets and moles that further soften the soil. This natural tillage enables good drainage of water and deep infiltration of oxygen.
* Use straw and leaves for mulching*
Weeding is definitely one of the biggest difficulties in farming. Have you imagined that it is linked with mechanical tillage? If you till the land with a cultivator or a tractor, weed seeds that were buried deep in the ground are surfaced. If you continue tilling, the war against the weed will never end because there are endless amount buried in the soil.
When a seed is covered with something 4 or 5 times its volume, it cannot germinate,weed will not grow.
If straw or leaves are unavailable,then sow rye or clover after harvest in autumn in the field where you will plant crops next year.
By spring, rye will have reached 120 to 130 centimeters tall. This vigorous rye suppresses the weeds. After they have grown, if you simply cut and lay them down, they serve as mulch. The root of the rye also reaches deep into the soil; bringing air and water deep inside.
Herbicide is not the best solution to weeds. Switch your thinking; thee are easier, more efficient, environment-friendly, enjoyable methods.
let me note on the plastic(vinyl) mulching. Many farmers use plastic mulching to suppress weeds and to keep warmth.
But it is not a good method. Plastic mulching causes huge diurnal temperature range and it suffocates the roots. Plastic becomes big waste after harvest. and some farmers don't even remove the plastic before tilling the soil!
(Orchard mulched with rice straw. Notice wild grass growing with it. Tree has painted with clay powder to treat skin problem.)
* Use indigenous microorganisms(IMO) to restore balance *
Disease is not just one bacterias wrongdoing. Problem will not be solved by killing those bacteria. Disease means the deterioration of the whole relationship between the crops and the microorganisms.
Pesticide and chemical fertilizers aggravate the soil condition, destroy the microorganisms' habitat and simplify the diversity of species causing a abnormal propagation of particular type of microorganism. This can result in disease.
IMO is powerful prescription. It is safe, effective, cheap, easy to make and home made. Rice straw or leaves mulch become IMO's habitat and Fermented Plant Juice (FPJ) given as food will boost them. IMO restores the balance within the microorganisms and between the crops. When the whole ecology of microorganisms becomes healthy, disease causing microorganisms will be suppresses by others.
* How to make/use soil treatment solution(SOS) *
Mix the following inputs together. Make sure you abide by the dilution ratios. Even if you are spraying directly on the soil, if it is too strong it will cause concentration problems.
Liquefied IMO4 (1:500)
Charcoal (150kg per 10a)
After making the solution, leave 3-5 hours for microorganisms to propagate.
Apply this solution according to your needs. It is common practice to apply 3 times; before broadcast, during the middle stage and later stage of growth.