Tag Archives: Organic farming

How Organic Farming will Save Us All

How Organic Farming will Save Us All

 

I ran into this organic farming article online and thought I would discuss it here. The idea is  that we need to get rid of our outdated notions of organic farming.

Yes, organic farming takes more effort and the willingness to try new strategies. But sustainable farming has upside as it produces a more desirable crop and tends to be more organic farmingprofitable.

Many of use want foods that don’t have potentially harmful chemicals. Yet the reality of this is that food costs go up and strategic planning by the farmer is critical. And yes, there is more labor by the farmer as well. The good news is that there tends to be more profit at the end of the day.

If there is a stereotype of the organic farmer it’s that they spend their days wrapped in droopy clothes made of hemp and burlap, becoming one with nature while foraging for chanterelles. Yet the reality of many organic farmers couldn’t be further from the truth. For those serious about agriculture free of synthetic chemicals, farming is a complex system that requires endless days of laborious work, with the potential to yield lucrative results.

Managing soils from year to year is also important in organic farming. The quote below is well spoken ” The goal is every year your soil is better than it was the year before.

This can be achieved in a few ways including using biological soil amendments, cover crops, and no-till soil strategies. Almost any soil problems can be overcome with some solid planning and a multiple year plan.

Well-managed, nutrient-dense soils are the guiding light to finding success in self-sustaining, organic agriculture. “It’s not just something that can be done for 10 years or 100 years until the soil is exhausted,” says Preston. “The goal is every year your soil is better than it was the year before.”

A link to the full article is below.

How organic farming will save us all – if we can throw away our antiquated notions of what it means

Claudia McNeilly, Special to National Post

Link to full article. 

Custom Biologicals manufactures a wide variety of products for use in organic farming and organic gardening supplies.

Biofertilizers for Farming

biofertilizers for farming

Biofertilizers for Farming

I spend a lot of time on this site talking about biofertilizers. In this post, I’ll talk about specific information about biofertilizers for farming and some key benefits to the grower and to the plant. We’ll also discuss why many of us think that biofertilizers are the future

biofertilizers for farming

Biofertilizers can be applied a number of ways.

of farming.

What is a Biofertilizer?

A quick definition is in order. A biofertilizer is a living microorganism that helps promote plant growth. Biofertilizers help plants by increasing the availability of key nutrients to the plant. Additionally, they provide growth hormones, known as phytohormones, to the plant.

 

Benefits to Farmers of Biofertilizers

While this is not all of the benefits, here are some specific benefits to farmers of using biofertilizers.

  • Increase Yield
  • Reduce Fertilizer Usage
  • Reduce Irrigation and Water Usage
  • Replenish the Soil
  • Increase Farm Profitability – Increased Return on Investment (ROI)
  • Supports Ag Sustainability – Can be Used in Organic Farming

Of course, no two farms will get the same results, but in general this is a good list of the benefits of using biofertilizers.

Let’s talk about each of these benefits in a little more detail.

Increased Yield

Biofertilizers increase the amount of beneficial microorganisms in the soil, particularly in the root zone. In turn, these microorganisms release trapped nutrients, capture atmospheric nutrients, help balance the soils pH, help trap moisture, and produce plant growth hormones. The end result is an increase in plant root size, a healthier, more productive plant, and increase plant yield for the farmer.

Reduced Fertilizer Usage

Biofertilizers work in the root zone or rhizosphere. In the rhizosphere, these beneficial microorganisms help unlock existing soil and atmospheric nutrients. In some cases, solubilizing nutrients such as phosphorus. In other cases, they convert atmospheric nitrogen into a form of nitrogen that can be used by the plant (Azos). In all cases, biofertilizers use existing nutrients more efficiently thus reducing overall traditional fertilizer usage.

Reduce Irrigation and Water Usage

Using biofertilizers can reduce irrigation. This happens because the beneficial soil microbes reduce the compaction of the soil, creating micropores in the soil. This reduced compaction, increases the ability of the soil to retain moisture. An increased soil moisture content, reduces runoff and wasted water.

Replenish the Soil

Beneficial microorganisms and soil nutrients are the keys to healthy soils. Each year beneficial microbes are lost to flood, freeze, fire, and toxic chemicals. Replacing and maintaining the soil biota is an important function of biofertilizer usage.

Increase Farm Profitability – Increased Return on Investment (ROI)

The key to running a successful 21st century farm is profitability. Bio-fertilizers maximize crop production and reduce traditional fertilizer costs. This combination allows biofertilizer usage to produce an outstanding return on the investment dollar for the farmer.

Supports Ag Sustainability – Can be Used in Organic Farming

Agricultural sustainability is key concept for modern farms. Biofertilizer usage reduces traditional fertilizer (N,P,K) usage and runoff. Controlling fertilizer runoff is a key in many sustainability plans. Additionally, biofertilizers can be used in organic farming. Check with your Organic certifier.

Custom Biologicals manufactures a wide variety of biofertilizers for farmers. Should you have questions about biofertilizers for farming, or any of are other products, feel free to contact me at (561) 797-3008 or via email at Bill@CustomBio.biz.

Distributor requests are always welcome.

Benefits of Organic Gardening

organic farming

Benefits of Organic Gardening

Gardening is a great hobby to practice, especially if you have a garden space in your home. There is something liberating about creating green life with your own hands. It is also quite practical, as it provides high-quality food for you and your family all year long, as long as you take proper garden care of the plants of course.

Benefits of Organic Gardening

Benefits of Organic Gardening

One of the best ways to utilise the garden space is to have an organic garden. Some would say the effort required to sustain one such is more demanding and that it takes more practice and knowledge. Even if it so, it also true that the benefits of growing your own organic produce are undeniable. Every gardening expert can tell you that all of the time and effort invested in starting and looking after an organic garden is going to be worth it. Here are just few of the great many benefits that you should consider:

  • Good for the environment and good for you – one of the main characteristics of organic gardening is that it uses no chemical fertilisers, herbicides and pesticides. These are usually the products that are most harmful towards nature and have been in the root, literally and figuratively, of pollution. Save that and you are not only growing plants without dangerous toxins and chemicals that inevitably end up in them, but you are also doing the environment a huge favour.
  • Saves you money – one benefit you will immediately feel on your budget. We all want to eat healthy and organic, but that often means paying extra. Organic produce comes at a higher price, which you can save simply by growing your own plants the same way. That way you will not only have delicious and healthy food, but also save a great deal of money you would normally expect to pay to get that. It is a win-win situation in all cases.
  • Good for your health – you needn’t worry about the toxic chemicals that inevitably end up in your food, since an organic garden is free of such. The problem is not only the chemical residue that needs to be washed off properly before consumption, but rather the fact that garden care, which has included such products inevitably ends up in produce with less mineral and vitamin content. Organic gardening, on the other hand, leaves you with vegetables and fruits that are of great quality. There is also the fact that you will be exercising a lot in your garden, which in turn will help you stay toned and healthy.
  • Great taste – organic produce is delicious; of that there is no doubt. It is true that the look of your vegetables and fruits may be inferior to the products you see in supermarkets, but their taste will be unparalleled. There is nothing tastier than organically grown vegetables and fruits that you can just pick from the backyard.
  • Great family activity – organic gardening presents а great opportunity for some quality time with your family. This is especially the case if you have children, who will find the time spent in the garden to be of particular interest. It will also be quite educational for them.

Benefits of organic farmingThese are just few of the main benefits that surround organic gardening. You will discover the rest as you start your own garden and you invest your effort in looking after it.

Living Organic Fertilizer

mighty grow sales sheet pngLiving Organic Fertilizer

OMRI Listed and Processed with Natural Trace Minerals and Beneficial Microorganisms

Living Organic Fertilizer is a innovative, OMRI listed, biologically active fertilizer manufactured by Mighty Grow. Made from poultry litter and processed with live beneficial microbes and trace minerals, this revolutionary product is an all purpose, premium fertilizer.

Living Organic fertilizer is a 4/3/4 product and is suitable for use in organic farming, gardening, and golf course greens.

Living Organic Fertilizer is:

  • Biologically Active
  • Naturally Time Released
  • 100% Organic, OMRI Listed
  • Safe and Natural
  • Non-Burning
  • Promoties both plant and soil health. Increases soil organic matter.
  • Replaces beneficial soil microorganisms and contains both beneficial soil fungi and beneficial soil bacteria.

An often overlooked component of soil health are beneficial soil microorganisms. In fact, beneficial bacteria and beneficial fungi are largely responsible for making a wide variety of nutrients available to the plant. Additionally, soil microorganisms are responsible for mineralization and immobilization of soil nutrients.

A common element of healthy soils, is a large, diverse population of soil microorganisms. So what happens in soils that don’t have this population of soil organisms? Simple, the crops underperform and require increasing amounts of traditional fertilizers. Not only are traditional fertilizers expensive, they are environmentally suspect.

The solution is Living Organic Fertilizer containing five species of beneficial soil bacteria and four species of beneficial soil bacteria.

Living Organic Fertilizer Contains Beneficial Soil Microorganisms.

  • Beneficial Soil Bacteria
    1. Bacillus subtilis
    2. Bacillus licheniformus
    3. Bacillus pumilus
    4. Bacillus megaterium
    5. Bacillus laterosporus
  • Beneficial Soil Fungi
    1. Trichoderma harzianum
    2. Trichoderma kongii
    3. Trichoderma viride
    4. Trichoderma polysporum

Contact me for more information about Living Organic fertilizer or biologically active fertilizers at (561) 797-3008 or Bill@custombio.biz.

MSDS-MightyGrow_4-3-4

Living Organic 4-3-4 Bulk Label

MG-SALES-SHEET-LivingOrganic-OMRI-PROOF

MSDS-MightyGrow_4-3-4

 

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Soil Quality using Management Practices

Soil Quality using Management Practices

Soil quality is the most important factor for long term agricultural productivity . A good soil manager will monitor the organic content of the soil, water holding capacity, and a host of other soil quality parameters that are discussed in detail in the article below. 

Soil quality also relies on the diversity of beneficial soil microorganisms.

Wise management practices could improve soil quality

 

Surface soil produces our food and is vital for life. This precious resource often is called “skin of the Earth” and, just as skin, it is important to protect and maintain its quality.

Soil quality is the inherent capacity of a particular soil to support human health and habitation; maintain or enhance air and water quality; and, most important, sustain plant and animal productivity.

From an agricultural standpoint, soil quality is vital for improving long-term agricultural productivity and maximizing profits through sustainable productivity.

It is important for soil both to function optimally for current needs and remain healthy for future use. Soil organic matter, tillage, soil compaction, soil structure, depth of soil, water-holding capacity, electrical conductivity, pH, ground cover, microbial biodiversity, carbon-to-nitrogen ratio and nutrient management are some of the important parameters of soil quality.

Improving and maintaining soil organic matter content is the most important quality parameter. Increasing organic matter improves soil structure as well as water- and nutrient-holding capacity, supports soil microbes, and protects soil from erosion and compaction. Organic matter can be improved by using no-till or minimum till methods, growing cover crops, leaving crop residues and using rotations with crops that balance optimal water and nutrient management practices.

Using reduced tillage practices will protect the soil surface, which decreases soil erosion and soil compaction, and decreases the loss of organic matter. Reduction in tillage also decreases the potential for destroying soil structure. Soil compaction can be caused by using heavy equipment on the surface when the soil is wet. Compaction will reduce the amount of air, water and pore space for growth of both soil microbes and plant roots. Soil compaction can be reduced by minimizing equipment use when the ground is wet and combining multiple farm tasks, such as applying both herbicides and fertilizer in one trip.

Growing cover crops and leaving residue from previous crops is the best way to reduce soil erosion by wind and water. Ground cover can be increased by growing perennial crops such as grasses in a pasture situation. Ground cover will improve water availability, but care should be taken to manage it properly to prevent disease outbreak.

Soil quality also relies on microbial organisms. Diversity in soil microbes may be helpful in controlling pest populations, diseases and weeds. Biodiversity can be achieved by increasing long-term crop rotations, since each plant in rotation contributes to unique soil structure and plant residue.

Understanding how to improve soil quality is aided by knowledge of the carbon-to-nitrogen (C:N) ratio for managing cover crops and nutrient cycling.

The C:N ratio is the amount of carbon to the amount of nitrogen in a residue or other organic material applied to soil. If material with a higher C:N ratio residue is applied, it takes longer to decompose and may immobilize inorganic fertilizers that are applied. This problem can be reduced by growing a low C:N ratio crop (e.g., vetch or other legumes) in rotation with a high C:N ratio crop (e.g., wheat straw).

Finally, efficient nutrient management is important in maintaining soil quality. Test your soils regularly and make sure that you store all your records. Examining records over time will tell whether the management practices that were followed increased or depleted soil nutrients. Too much fertilizer or manure may cause groundwater contamination or may run off and enter water bodies and degrade water quality. Application of nutrients based on a soil test will alleviate this problem.

What works on one farm may not work on another. Adjust your management plan by observing changes in soil quality on your farm. Wise management decisions will improve the overall quality of the soil. Being proactive, rather than reactive, will make you a better steward of this limited resource.

 

 

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New Jersey Helps Pay for Organic Certification

New Jersey Helps Pay for Organic Certification

New Jersey has decided to start paying for up to 75% of the costs to organic certification. This is a great idea and fairly simple to implement.

Since New Jersey has about 75-100 certified organic producers, the overall expense will be relatively minor. It will be seen as the state actually trying to help the organic farming industry.

I, for one, would like to see more of  this type of help from states to defray some of the costs of organic certification.

Organic farming certification costs borne, in part, by New Jersey

 

Interest in organic farming has been increasing in recent years due to concerns about residues remaining on crops, according to advocates for sustainable food and agriculture.

The market for organic crops is increasing as well, said Justine Cook, organic farming conservation and technical services specialist at the Northeast Organic Farming Association of New Jersey.

“It’s a good thing,” she said.

To help meet demand and promote organic food products, the New Jersey Department of Agriculture has joined with the federal government to reduce the cost of organic certification through a cost-sharing program.

Those who qualify are eligible for reimbursement of up to 75 percent of costs associated with certification, up to $750, including fees and charges levied by the certifying agent.

Cook said New Jersey is home to 70 to 100 certified organic farms.

Those farmers began receiving notifications of the program in the days following the announcement.

“I’m open to anything that’s an opportunity to keep a little more money in your pocket,” said Alex Sawatzky, who runs an organic community-supported agriculture farm at Sandbrook Farm in Delaware Township.

Certification conditions

Cook said the certification process might require proof that land was free of chemical or pesticides and a recording of crops.

The land Sawatzky farms did not have chemicals introduced to it and the property owners had to sign off that it had been like that for 10 years. He is subject to annual inspections and review. “There’s a 36-month transfer period” for a farmer starting organic practices, Cook said. However, if those practices have already been followed, Cook said, it takes only four to six months to review an application.

Typically, an inspector is sent out to the farm to see if the farmer has been following its organic system plan, Cook said.

Sawatzky decided to go certified organic last year, even though he was essentially operating that way before. However, he was not able to legally represent his crops as organic before certification.

“It means something to them,” he said of customers that look for certified crops.

He said he went through the state Department of Agriculture to obtain certification because it was less expensive than going to a private company.

Sawatzky said there is a battle between locally grown neighborhood crops and certified organic crops being imported from distant farms.

Has the designation helped?

“Hard to say,” Sawatzky said, noting that the increased customer base may be due to his community-supported agriculture operation becoming more established.

Process praised

“In the process of becoming certified, we have met a lot of nice and interesting people,” said Gary Bechtold, who runs the small Holland View Farm in Holland Township.

“They are trying to promote organic certification so I think (the program) is a good thing,” Bechtold said, adding that his farm is certified in crops and eggs.

He said that certified organic products are much more expensive to produce.

“An example is that we pay $28-$30 for a bag of certified organic chicken feed while standard feed can be found for $12-$13 per bag,” he said. “Our eggs are certified organic but most people don’t want to pay twice the price for them.”

“There is a benefit to the environment and the community to be a certified organic farm, but so far not a financial benefit to the farmer,” Bechtold said.

Peter Furey, executive director of the New Jersey Farm Bureau, called certified organic farming a component of all New Jersey agriculture has to offer.

“It’s a highly advantageous program,” he said.

***

GOING ORGANIC

To qualify for the program, an organic producer must have been certified or incurred expenses for the continuation of certification Oct. 1, 2012, through September 2013. Certification must be through a certifying agent accredited by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Applications will be processed on a first-come, first-served basis. Farms may receive one reimbursement per certification or category of certification per year.

Applications are due by Nov. 19. Visitnj.gov/agriculture/grants/organiccostshare.html for an application and more information. Or contact Debra McCluskey at Debra.McCluskey@ag.state.nj.us or 609-984-2225.

 

Crop rotation and the role of microorganisms

Crop rotation has been used effectively  for centuries; however, this is the first article that I have seen that discusses the changes in the microorganisms in the soil as a result of the rotation.

It’s probably not surprising that the organisms changed. What surprised me was that with the wheat the soil microorganisms were mostly bacteria. When crops the crops were changes to oats or peas, there was a shift to soil fungi.

I’d expect to see more studies about the role of microorganisms in the soil in the future. As we move towards using less fertilizer and towards sustainable agricultural practices the role of microorganisms may well be the key feature.

 

 

Crop rotation and the role of microorganisms

Crop rotation has been used since ancient times to improve plant nutrition and to limit the spread of disease. A new study reveals this relates to enriching the soil with bacteria, fungi and protozoa.

Crop rotation is the practice of growing a series of different types of crops in the same area in sequential seasons. The practice of crop rotation gives various benefits to the soil, such as the replenishment of nitrogen.

In essence, the new research has demonstrated that changing the crop species massively changes the content of microbes in the soil, which in turn helps the plant to acquire nutrients, regulate growth and protect itself against pests and diseases, boosting yield. The location where this happens is called the rhizosphere. The rhizosphere is the narrow region of soil that is directly influenced by root secretions and associated soil microorganisms.

To show this an organic agricultural study was conducted. Soil was collected from a field near Norwich (in the U.K.) and planted with wheat, oats and peas. After growing wheat, the analysis of the soil showed that it remained largely unchanged and the microbes in it were mostly bacteria. However, growing oat and pea in the same soil caused a huge shift towards fungi.

To show this, extensive genetic testing was required because each gram of soil contains over 50,000 species of bacteria. The findings of the study could be used to develop plant varieties that encourage beneficial microbes in the soil.

The study was published in Nature’s The ISME Journal. The paper is titled “Comparative metatranscriptomics reveals kingdom level changes in the rhizosphere microbiome of plants.”

Read more: http://www.digitaljournal.com/article/355178#ixzz2aAkc91md

 

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