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 Post subject: nitrogen ?
PostPosted: Mon Nov 24, 2003 2:02 pm 
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Location: Saginaw (NW Fort Worth), Texas
I am in the process of talking to a ranch about their pasture fed beef as an alternative for my family. They do not use any persticides, herbicides, antibiotics or hormones on the ranch at all. They are in the process of eliminating the nitrogen fertilizer that they use for a portion of their pastures. Can ya'll please give me some suggestions for organic fertilizer that they could use and still be somewhat economical for hundreds of acres of land, so that I can share this with them?

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Christina


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PostPosted: Mon Nov 24, 2003 4:53 pm 
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Kathe Kitchens has the perfect program for you.
Have her explain the "Earthworm" program. I think you will be very pleased. :D I am going to use the program on my lawn next spring.

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 Post subject: nitrogen
PostPosted: Mon Nov 24, 2003 11:51 pm 
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You can't put a lot of N out, so you have to get better quality "stuff" - trace minerals, bacteria, amino acids, enzymes with a "small" amount of N that is from an organic source.
With this plan you will get better quality grass but the volume will not be close to what the chemical guys will get, but we are going for health - they are not.
Robert D Bard


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PostPosted: Mon Dec 01, 2003 12:08 am 
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Inoculated clovers, beans, and alfalfas will add nitrogen to the soil via the bacteria in the inoculant. The stored nitrogen can be used by other plants and grasses. The bacteria can grab nitrogen from the air and combine it with other chemicals and leave it right in your soil. There are many different plants that work to do this. They lush up at different times of the year in Texas so he could theoretically be green all year.

I'd ask about his worming process. It sounds like he is going all natural, but I'd ask just to be sure. If he's using wormer meds, there won't be any dung beetles in his pastures. The dung beetles are responsible for tearing up the manure so most of the parasites can't live. Some dung beetle species will bury the manure deep in the ground which both fertilizes and aerates the soil. So if he is not using Ivermec or some other "mec" meds for worms, then he's probably got dung beetles. You can reassure him that just having the DB is good for returning fertility to the soil.

Another way to bring in N is to run poultry in the same fields as the other livestock. Bird poop has a lot of uric acid which is a hot nitrogen source. More birds the more N.

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PostPosted: Thu Dec 11, 2003 9:34 am 
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I just finished reading two books by Joel Salatin, "You Can Farm," and "Salad Bar Beef." He has not used any nitrogen fertilizer of any kind since about 1970. His farm in Virginia is 550 acres of which 450 acres is ungrazed timber. In 2000 he sold 8,000 chickens, 400,000 eggs, 100 cattle, 100 pigs, 1,000 rabbits, 700 turkeys, and 100 pick-up loads of firewood which all net him about $2,000 per acre (on the 100, not the 550). Here's his basic plan.

1. Grow great forage with lots of species.
2. Cull animals for (in order of importance) fertility, consistent unassisted live births, disease and pest resistance, ability to gain on grass.
3. Fresh water for all animals at all times.
4. No grain for cattle. Pigs and chickens get some.
5. Run cattle over pasture with temp fencing to accelerate or decelerate forage consumption depending on forage conditions. Animals only get access to enough food for one day at a time.
6. Three days after the cattle are off the field, bring in the portable chicken coops. Free running chickens will find all the cattle pests in the manure and eat them. They also spread the manure out to cover three times the area of the original pat.
7. Follow up the chickens with portable rabbit pens.
8. Remove all chickens from pasture in October and replace them with turkeys for the holidays.

Of course there's more to it and the devil is in the details, but basically the diversity of legume forages and management of manures keeps the fertility up in the soil.

One very interesting thing he does that I hadn't seen anywhere was he brings his winter cows to a pole barn for the coldest of winter months. The roof protects them from bad weather, but besides that, he knows where his cows are at all times. There's no four-wheeling to find them and deliver hay. All he does is toss the hay from the adjacent stack into a bin. The cows are fed through a gate so no hay is wasted. The animals stand in a large pen all the time so the manure builds up. Every couple of days he covers the manure with a pile of sawdust seeded with corn kernels. At the end of the winter stay, the pile is 3-4 feet deep and densely compacted from the continual animal activity. After the cattle leave, he brings in a pig to root out the seeded corn. As the pig digs he is literally in hog-heaven because much of the corn has fermented :shock: :wink:. When the pigs finish finding all the corn, the pile is fluffed up and aerated and ready to be spread on the fields. He calls it his 'pigerator.'

Note that animals do all the work. He talks about them doing all his work, they don't need any oil or gas, they eat sh*t, and for their retirement plan, he eats them.

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PostPosted: Thu Dec 11, 2003 10:27 am 
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Wow! Thanks for the great information. I will make sure to pass it along and hopefully they will use this info.

Take care,
Christina


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PostPosted: Thu Dec 11, 2003 11:46 am 
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Do you know of a source for dung beetles? I live 30 miles NE of Waco. I don't think I have ever seen a dung beetle but I have seen pictures.

Pam

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 Post subject: Pam - dung beetles
PostPosted: Fri Dec 12, 2003 8:58 am 
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I know a dung beetle when I see it but I have none. We have plenty of beneifical bacteria as cow piles disappear in a week or two in the summer, but I would love to buy dung bettles if any one can ever find a source.
I have a friend in south east Tx that had tons of them and tried fly ear tags with pecticides for flies and the dung beetles disappeared - lesson learned.
Our other farm in east Tx took 10 to 15 years for the dung beetles to show up, I hope it doen't take that long again.
Robert D Bard


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PostPosted: Sat Dec 13, 2003 11:38 am 
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Is there not a way to transport the beetles? Has anyone moved any successfully?

I guess if they are really that affected by toxic products you would need to be certain their new home has been organic for a long time.

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 Post subject: dung beetles
PostPosted: Sat Dec 13, 2003 6:24 pm 
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Before I became organic, in the Lake Worth, TX area, I had a lot of dung beetles. I was using Round-Up around trees and undesirable plants. Also, APF fertilizer, Diazinon & Dursban on the yard. My best guess is that I had dung available in the yard due to 2-3 dogs doing their thing. What I'm saying is that the beetles need dung to eat and not being totally organic for a long time is not necessarily the problem! If you clean up animal poop, you may not have anything for the beetles to feed on. Anybody have thoughts on this? By the way, these beetles don"t hang around for you to see them 24-7. They get their fill and go somewhere else to do their thing.

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PostPosted: Sun Dec 14, 2003 10:35 am 
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"Totally organic" is not a requirement for dung beetles, true. However, any ivermectin (and quite probably other wormers) is toxic to them. Since dung is their food source, and the wormers remain in the dung, they get wiped out pretty quickly that way.

Dung beetles can definitely be moved. Some folks in Australia spent a decade or so bringing in various species from Africa and then spreading them around Australia to deal with the cow manure (the native dung beetles couldn't handle the large, wet manure). You need to find dung beetles that are suited to your soil type (clay, sand) and then learn how to trap the little critters.

Judith


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 Post subject: dung beetles
PostPosted: Sun Dec 14, 2003 1:28 pm 
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Judith, I agree with your last post. If the dung is toxic, it makes sense that the beetles are gone. Humans might keep this in mind with some of the stuff we eat. Let me be certain that I was clear on one point, I am not promoting chemicals, etc. The point I was suggesting was that people shouldn't need to be organic for a long time to have these beetles. They need non-poisonous dung to eat (the beetles).

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PostPosted: Mon Dec 15, 2003 10:50 am 
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That's how I took your post - I just thought it would help to get a little more specific. Dung beetles are awesome little creatures, I'm trying to figure out how to convince them to come back to our property ;)

Judith


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 Post subject: Dung beetles
PostPosted: Tue Dec 16, 2003 12:56 am 
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My experience in East Tx was that we used wormers (other life before Howard) and we got dung beetles after 12 or 15 years.
We have not used wormers in 7 years. We use DE everyday and basic H every 3 months. We have no dung beetles (but thanks to the people on this site we will buy some in the spring after it warms up.
When we had dung beetles we did not know or use DE. I suspect that dung beetles are to big to be effected by DE, but is any part of their life cycle inside a horse or a cow.

Our horses are healthy and not wormy, but one of the best things is that we have not had a bot fly in 5 years. De works but I question if free choicw works.

Has anyone ever done a fecal exam after free choice as opposed to feeding DE in daily feed?
Robert D Bard


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PostPosted: Wed Feb 18, 2004 9:32 pm 
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Location: Tyler, Texas
We can help with large acres of Pasture both hay and grazing. www.watsonranchorganic.com

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