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 Post subject: Organic Hay Pastures
PostPosted: Fri Apr 27, 2007 8:23 am 

Joined: Thu Apr 26, 2007 9:57 am
Posts: 2
Location: San Antonio, TX,TEXAS
Printed in the May 2007 Issue of The Horse Gazette

Global Warming and Pollution – Causes and Solutions
It is all over the news; everyone is talking about it…Global Warming. From higher than average temps, polar caps melting, dead zones in the ocean and land, underground water pollution and even air pollution. What are the causes? Industry, transportation, chemical fertilizer, herbicide and pesticide (the making of such), and now livestock!
A report from the Food and Agriculture Organization shows livestock are responsible for 18% of greenhouse gases that cause global warming. That’s even more than cars, planes and all other forms of transportation combined.
Burning fuel to produce fertilizer to grow feed, to produce meat, to transport it and the clearing of vegetation for grazing produces 9% of all emissions of carbon dioxide, the most common greenhouse gas. Remember the burning of fossil fuel for these purposes is a non-renewable resource.
The ammonia from the chemical fertilizer is one of the main causes of acid rain. Chemical fertilizer used on grazing pastures and to grow their feed wash into our waterways and into our ground water. In the waterways it washes down to the ocean creating dead zones. The dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico is now up to 8,000 square miles. These chemicals are also contaminating our underground water. This has lead to reports of health problems such as, reproductive problems and cancers. The smog can increase asthma, chronic respiratory diseases and can worsen viral infections.
Oxidized nitrogen rises to the mid-level atmosphere, which serves as a greenhouse gas that contributes to global warming and more acid rain. Acid rain leaches nutrients, such as calcium, magnesium and potassium, out of the root zone and mobilizes aluminum. This inhibits root growth. When you apply chemical nitrogen to the soil you can lose over 50% to evaporation and up to 80% to leaching. Not to mention the hundreds of thousands of acres of agriculture land turned into desert by agriculture chemicals each year. Agriculture chemicals, and non-organic farming costs us at least 10- billion dollars per year in health care, environmental clean-up and other hidden costs. Let’s stop this vicious cycle!
GROW ORGANIC! The United States imports over 12 million tons of chemical nitrogen each year, yet scientists estimate that microorganisms add approximately 280 million tons of fixed nitrogen to the soil every year. We all know that chemicals kill microbes, so why not work with the microbes rather than against them. For every acre of land that changes back to organic you are decomposing and detoxifying 10 lbs of pesticides and herbicides along with 300 lbs of chemical fertilizer that is locked up in the soil. (To date Watson Ranch products have been applied to over 100,000 acres!)
Can you name any insect or weed that has been eradicated from the earth by herbicides and pesticides? Give up? There are NONE. So why do we still use them? Healthy plants are less susceptible to insect infestations. Plus pesticides kill all insects in the applied area, including the beneficial ones. Healthy soils also have fewer weeds. A study done by Agricultural Research Service in Urbana, Illinois shows that by bolstering the activity of microbes by using an amendment (Micro-Gro), the weed seeds are decomposed before they can grow. By growing our hay and grazing pastures organically we are doing a world of good!
We need to do what we can to slow down the damage.
To minimize the impact of a drought, the soil needs to capture the rainwater that falls on it and store as much of that water as possible for future plant use. It also needs to allow for plant roots to penetrate and proliferate. These conditions can be achieved through proper management of organic matter. These practices can increase water storage by 16,000 gallons per acres foot for each 1% of organic matter. Organic matter also increases the soils ability to take in water during rainfall events, assuring that more water will be stored. Ground cover also increases the water infiltration rate, while lowering soil water evaporation. Plant health also figures into how your fields survive a drought. The healthier the cell structure the less water the plant needs to survive. A healthy plant can survive on 20% less water. The use of chemicals actually hurt the cell structure. When all these factors are taken into consideration the severity of a drought and need for irrigation can be greatly reduced.
Organics take longer to work than chemicals, yet organics last longer. The soil and plants get healthier with each application. Organics do not hurt the soil with high salt concentrations and harsh sources of nutrients. With organics, leaching and run off are not an issue. Organics help build big healthy root systems. The reason we suggest a February/March application is that the soil microbes start to improve the chemistry, physics, biology, and jumpstarts root growth before the major growth spurt happens in the spring. While the chemically minded types put down their chemicals in April, our plants are already growing.
Organic products equal hundreds of pounds of chemicals. Nitrogen fixing microorganisms can produce at least 35 lbs of nitrogen per acre, per month. This is fed to the plants by the microbes. There is no run off, no evaporation and no toxic fillers. Leaf sprays or foliar feeding are also highly efficient fertilizers. Update of various plant foods are from 10% to 900% more effective when the nutrients are applied to the leaves instead of the soil. The plants may never use much of the chemical fertilizers. As much as 50% of the chemical nitrogen used in this country leaches into our waterways, creating a complex of environmental problems. Other nutrients may, through chemical reactions, be bound into a form unavailable to the plants. For instance, 80% of the phosphorus applied through chemical fertilizers may get locked up in the soil. On the other hand, up to 80% of foliar added phosphorus can be directly absorbed by the plant.
The microbes that organic products add to the soil also help unlock phosphorus, potassium and other nutrients, and feed the root systems directly. The roots in turn give off sugars and the microbes utilize as a food source. That is why anything grown organically has a high sugar content and higher digestible protein content.
Watson Ranch a 150-acre ranch located in Hawkins, Texas, with 60 acres of organically grown hay. Watson Ranch has an Organic Fertilizer program and strives to provide quality organic products at affordable prices, while preserving the environment for future generations. For more information visit or call 903-858-2030 or email:

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Program Recommendations for Organic Pastures
Late Winter/Early Spring (Feb/March): If winter pasture (legumes and/or rye grass) is present use of Booster Max and Humate Tea or Gulf of Main and Humate Tea at a rate of ½ gallon of each per acre. This will foliar feed your winter pasture. If you have dormant grass, use Micro-Grow for the first application of the year. This will start conditioning the soil as well as producing nitrogen for the plant growth.
Middle of the Growing Season (May/Sept): After you cut and remove the hay, let the pasture grow 6 to 8 inches. Then apply Booster Max and Humate Tea or Gulf of Maine and Humate Tea at the rate of ½ gallon of each per acre. This will foliar feed y our pasture grass as well as feed the soil microorganisms. Add Garlic Spray to reduce damage by grasshoppers and other non-beneficial insects. This application will need to be repeated as long as you are trying to get another cutting of hay.
Late Fall/Early Winter (Oct-Dec): Apply Micro-Grow. If planting a winter pasture, apply at least 2 weeks prior to planting. This will condition the soil and improve root growth of coastal, and/or help with growth of winter pastures.
After the First Year: Aerobic Compost Tea (A.C.T.) will replace Micro-Grow. Use A.C.T. along with boosters for food sources for the microorganisms.
Boosters: Boosters are used as a food source for the microorganisms in the soil. They can be applied along with the above recommendations or by themselves. Some boosters also have an additional benefit to the soil or natural growth hormones for the plants.

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