Category: Soil

Humus is Dead (Long Live Humus)

A discussion on soil organic matter, hummus is the tasty chickpea dish. By Caleb Goossen, Ph.D. The word “humus” has been used to describe soil organic matter since the late 18th century, deriving from the same word in Latin, which simply meant soil. Beyond referring generally to the layer of a soil profile rich in

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Air and Your Garden

By Will Bonsall Organic matter is basically composed of two types of elements: minerals and gasses. The minerals are obvious: they’re what’s left when you burn organic matter (like wood). The part that is gone is the gasses, four of them in all: hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen and carbon. Now of course reduced carbon (as in

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Spring Growth – From the Ground Up: Soil Improvement

Presentations at Spring Growth 2010 At the Spring Growth Conference, Eliot Coleman talked about the importance of soil fertility and soil aeration in promoting the growth of pest-resistant crops. English photo. The 2010 Spring Growth Conference at MOFGA’s Common Ground Education Center in Unity featured Dr. Will Brinton of Woods End Laboratories in Mt. Vernon, Maine; Eliot

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Providing Nitrogen to Organic Crops

by Eric Sideman, PhDMOFGA’s Organic Crop Specialist Emeritus Nitrogen is usually the nutrient that is in limiting supply, i.e., the limiting factor to crop growth on organic farms. Plants deficient in nitrogen are stunted, yellowish (especially the lower leaves), and have restricted root growth. Plants turn yellow because nitrogen is an integral part of chlorophyll,

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An Introduction to the Physical Nature of Soils

by Eric Sideman, PhDMOFGA’s Organic Crop Specialist Emeritus Benefits of Composting The soil is a complex and dynamic system of living and nonliving components. In natural ecosystems, minerals cycle from living back to non-living components, while organic matter levels remain relatively constant as deposits of organic matter (from falling leaves, for example) balance decomposition. In

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Zone Tillage – A Reduced Tillage Option for Northern Farms

By Jan Goranson and Rob Johanson, Goranson Farm, Dresden, and Jean English, Ph.D., MOFGA Plowing and tilling soil excessively can reduce soil health by exposing soil to so much aeration that organic matter oxidizes excessively; subjecting soil to wind and water erosion; inverting soil layers, thus displacing soil organisms from their ecological niches. Plowing and

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Natural Sources of Plant Nutrients

by Eric Sideman, PhDMOFGA’s Organic Crop Specialist Emeritus There are two basic approaches to fertilization. The first is to provide required nutrients to each crop in a soluble form that plants can use immediately, i.e., feed the plant. The advantage to this approach is the opportunity to quite accurately meet a crop’s need. The disadvantage

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Experts Talk Soil at MOFGA Meetings

By Jean English Jerry Brunetti is the managing director of Agri-Dynamics, a soil and animal health consulting company that also markets holistic remedies for animals in Easton, Pennsylvania. At MOFGA and Cooperative Extension’s Farmer to Farmer Conference in November, he spoke about improving soil chemistry and soil health through diversified cropping systems and amendments. Working

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Tillage Effects on Soil Health Parameters

One treatment in our study of the effects of tillage on soil health used a rototiller for cultivation. Another treatment used a broadfork. By Will Brinton Soil tillage is an increasingly important topic of discussion among agriculturists and poses new challenges for organic practices. At a soil health event in Aroostook County in 2014, Ray Archuleta,  conservation

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