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PostPosted: Thu Sep 11, 2003 4:31 pm 
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I am coming up with a plan of action to better the soil on a 5 acre and 44 acre pasture. :D I have dry molasses, lava sand, greensand, and humate in this plan already.

I have :idea: thought :idea: about introducing nematodes or earthworms.

Anyone done this? Does it sound usefull? Will they survive to do their job without irrigation?

Thanks for any advice or "already been their, done that wisdom"!

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PostPosted: Fri Sep 12, 2003 12:43 am 
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Do you have anything specific you want to change about the pastures?

Are there any known problems with them?

How much grass coverage do you have and how much do you want?

What kinds of grasses are growing now and what do you want?

Do you have animals on the pastures now or do you want to?

Is there water to the pastures?

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PostPosted: Fri Sep 12, 2003 7:05 am 
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Pamzilla wrote:
I am coming up with a plan of action to better the soil on a 5 acre and 44 acre pasture. :D I have dry molasses, lava sand, greensand, and humate in this plan already.

I have :idea: thought :idea: about introducing nematodes or earthworms.

Anyone done this? Does it sound usefull? Will they survive to do their job without irrigation?


As to the earthworms, I think I first would take samples around the tracts to see what sort of resident population is present. Ideally, one would take uniform 1'X1'X1' samples of soil at a time when the soil is not extremely dry. It may be that much of the 1 foot deep part is rock in some places, depending on how deep your soil is. If you can't take uniform sized samples, measure the ones you take and normalize them to a measurement of the number of earthworms per cubic foot of soil. For example, a 6"X6"X6" cube is about 1/8 of a cubic foot. You're southeast of Hillsboro, so you probably have clay soil(?). If the soil is pretty compacted and if you find few earthworms, I don't believe I would address the earthworm issue until the soil gets closer to the conditon you want. Earthworm population "should" be a fair measurement of the general soil health, so if they are present in good numbers, there isn't much point to adding more. If they aren't present or are sparse, the current conditions may be unfavorable and I believe it would do little good to introduce more until the soil improves. Maybe you'd want to select a small representative tract, introduce a known number of earthworms, and monitor the population in that tract over an extended period of time to see how things progress. In any event, an occasional earthworm audit would be a good thing to do to monitor the soil health.

As to the nematodes, if the grass is growing, they should persist. I gather you want the nematodes for control of fire ants or other soil-related pests (otherwise, what would be the point?). As with the earthworms, you could begin on a test plot to see if it is something that you want to expand. Of course, without irrigation, you should put them out in the evening just ahead of a rain or maybe during a light rain so they will be watered in. That may be a tricky proposition, but I believe it would be a waste of time and money to apply them without enough water to distribute them/enable their mobility.

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PostPosted: Fri Sep 12, 2003 12:13 pm 
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Five acre tract has large bare spots from catte and tractor traffic. Very weedy. One large, never dry, tank. I want to keep 2 horses there with enough grass for grazing along with supplemental feed once a day. We are wanting to seed it with a winter grass to stop erosion of bare soil over this winter, likely a clover. Introduce horses next spring. The land has been beaten up but not chemically fertilized or pesticized as far as we know.

The 44 acre tract is probably the best piece of land around here. It was two 22 acre tracts sold to veterans in the 60s. Those vets never used it so it has sat pristine since then. No water or containment fence so no animals for a while. We may not even do anything until water and fence is up. We might take one hay cut for horses if it looks like it will make good hay but I'm not a fan of taking away organic material so we'll see.

In any case, we are newbies at large scale organics with grazing animals. We want to do rotational grazing and improve the condition of the land.

I have posted before with questions about ranching and everyone has been very helpful. Thanks :wink:

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 Post subject: 5 and 44 acres
PostPosted: Fri Sep 12, 2003 8:51 pm 
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Your plans are sound with what you have planned. The worms will come. I like to use humates (dry or liquid), bugs in a jug can help, phsphate (mined from earth not superphosphate), potassium (mined for earth), and a little amonium sulphate - before everyone gets excited this does not hurt the environment but will release some of the trace minerals in the soil. I would only use this after planting seed. Besides lava sand, etc I would add about 25 lbs of lime to the mix if you know it has a lot of calcium (if little calcium I wouldn't do it)
Their is a company in FW that will mix the above for you. This man, Randy Mosely makes his living cleaning up chemical polution in the soil. He is very knowable. He restored the LBJ grass lands state park.
His website is www. enviromateinc.com. The prices are reasonable - less expensive than chemical fert.
Our worms are coming back and the bacteria is increasing. A cow pattie lasts about a week and you can then walk by it and when you kick it there is only a little cap on top and nothing under it.
Robert D Bard


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PostPosted: Sun Sep 14, 2003 1:36 pm 
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I really love this topic and hope to really be ranching sometime in the near future. I'm going to describe what several ranchers around Texas are doing. I'll try to be brief, but that's sometimes hard to do (especially for me!).

I'll just use the first rancher I heard talk as the example and you can extrapolate to the rest of them that seem to be using the same techniques. This guy had made all the mistakes and more - really dumb ones, until he completely ran out of money. Well, once you're out of money, you stop buying seed, supplemental feed, ferts, herbicides, medicines, pesticides, and you start letting your help go. Just imagine cutting all these things out of your program permanently! Talk about cutting your expenses to the bone!! That's what these folks have done. The only thing they spend money on is electric fencing and water troughs. These guys will herd all their animals onto one paddock at a time. After a week or two, they will move them to another paddock. The trick is that they have at least 15 paddocks and up to 30. What this forces to happen is the grass gets completely rested between grazing. All their grasses are natives. The relatively cramped quarters for the herd forces them to spread manure, urine, and grass seeds over 100% of the area. The grass grows very dense and tall which has lots of other benefits as far as retaining soil and water during drenching rains.

For a 44 acre area, you might start with 4 cow/calf pairs and possibly work your way up to 8 pairs after your soil recovers with grasses. I'm not sure where all the rural areas are that I read on this list, but if you're over toward east Texas, you could conceivably move up to more than 8 pairs with all the rain y'all get. With 100% grass coverage and 30 weeks to recover, you get a huge biomass of grass for the animals. It isn't all perfect grass, but it works. The central Texas rancher example calves in April, weans at 7 months, and averages 650 pounds to the feed lot. His total expenses including ad valorem taxes are about $35/animal which gives him some healthy pad if the price of beef suddenly drops. This cost does not include land costs.

So picture 44 acres with 30 paddocks, each with electric fencing, each with a water trough. That's about 1.5 acres per paddock with up to 8 (or more) pairs of animals for a week at a time. Pretty intense grazing, huh. You would also want to fence off the natural water you might have now. The animals will ruin them anyway. With a few years of this type of management, the water will get sucked into the soil and will no longer accumulate in your tanks. If you have any streams, they should start flowing again.

One more thing my example rancher cut out is irrigation. He waters the animals but lives from rain to rain otherwise. Imagine not having any irrigation equipment, repairs, maintenance, labor, and storage. And speaking of storage, he doesn't have supplemental feed, herbicide, seed, or any of that stuff he used to store so he no longer needs any buildings on his property. All he does is open a gate once a week and let the animals walk from a grazed pasture to an ungrazed one.

Now I would be remiss if I gave you the impression this was easy to do right off the bat. There is a lot of research you need to do on your property to include understanding your soil capping, existing biology, canopy coverage, current capacity, poison plants, bird nests, wild animal migrations, hunting, rainy season, and many other considerations. Management like this takes PUH-LENTY of planning. But it does seem to work once you get into the groove.

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PostPosted: Sun Sep 14, 2003 9:55 pm 
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Yeah I know this is exactly the way I want to do animal management. I think most ranchers are sucked into buying big equipment, expensive fertilizers, and the like. I want to improve the land we have animals on, not destroy it.

Thank you for giving me some good reading and sage advice!

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PostPosted: Wed Sep 17, 2003 11:12 am 
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I don't know about sage advice. I'd call it off-beat advice if you look through any of the literature. But there are people putting in the effort to make it work.

The worst things I've read about the approach above is that it makes the soil worse. That's usually from the "cowfree in 2003" crowd who have an excuse for everything. I think most ranchers look at the process and decide that life's too short to go to that much trouble. You have to do a lot of surveying, either formal or informal, to keep on top of the animal movement. You don't just turn the animals loose and forget about them like some think they can do on the open range.

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 Post subject: restoring land
PostPosted: Thu Sep 18, 2003 12:46 am 
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I have a friend that took over a worn out over grazed farm in the Crockett area. She sprayed the fields with algoflash , www.algoflash.com, molasses, fish emulsion, and garlic. In one season it went from weeds to a very vibrant pasture with grazing mini Angus. She has not over stocked it.
Algoflash is a organic product from France. It comes a 5 liters for about $39.00. This is all this woman uses for fertilizer. I am also trying this and it will be in this Fri. I am in hopes of putting fall planting out this week end and spray fields by Monday.
Will keep every one informed.
Robert D. Bard


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PostPosted: Thu Sep 18, 2003 6:34 am 
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What rate of application did she use for the algoflash?

Judith


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 Post subject: algoflash rate
PostPosted: Sun Sep 21, 2003 8:29 am 
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My friend suggests about a lite in 100 gals to 15 to 20 acres.
I also called them and the nitrate is dug from the earth as a natural product. The use algoflash in France on the grapes and they can't put toxic stuff or acid fertilizers or they would screw up the wine. The French do a lot of things to make us made but making bad wine is not one oif them.
I am also considering becoming a distributor for ocean nutrition products - using the ocean to restore the land and make the almost perfect supplements. The best way to ingest minerals is through plants, not the metallic form from stores.
Robert D Bard


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PostPosted: Tue Sep 23, 2003 8:21 am 
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Thanks for the info. I've been trying to decide what to put on our pasture for the fall - -I think I'll try the algoflash. At 1 liter per 15 acres, if it has ANY effect, it's a cheap way to improve land :)


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 Post subject: pastures
PostPosted: Wed Sep 24, 2003 2:08 am 
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I am saving two areas for ocean products. It makes sense as it has 92 tract minerals, beneficial bacteria, amino acids, enzymes, and other "good stuff". So I will end up with some areas in algoflash, some in ocean products and some with both. I will report later. I am renting sprayer from feed store. If these products are as good as I believe, it will save a chunk of change on humate fertilizers and it will pay to buy a sprayer and spray several time per year.
Robert D Bard


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PostPosted: Sun Sep 28, 2003 5:33 pm 
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I checked out the website for Algoflash and it is not very specific about the contents. Is this organic? Usually something so cheap is not organic but there are exceptions.

How much time does it take to apply?

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PostPosted: Tue Nov 18, 2003 7:15 am 
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Pamzilla, I am new to farming/ranching but felt compelled to give some results that I have personally experienced in the past nine months. Extremely limited knowledge, here. On a few pastures of our farm, we are allowing a neighbor to bring in his cattle and graze them with weekly rotation. At the suggestion of the elder farmer we all together shred the fields in between grazing. He suggested this as an immediate means for keeping the weeds down and the grass grows back thick and lush, and it helps spread the cow manure. If the weather looks like rain the farmer goes out and shreds a field real quick! I can only pass along what I have seen with my own eyes and the improvement to the pastures is remarkable.

Would love to know more about the nematodes for controlling fire ants if you find out anything. Thanks - Susan

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