This training takes place at Kyampisi Farm, and is meant to equip all members with the concepts of biodynamic farming. It gives a refresher training, as well as training all new staff about biodynamic farming.
COMPARISON BETWEEN DEMETER AND BIODYNAMIC FARMING
- Biodynamic farming is the advanced form of organic agriculture, while Demeter are products which come from biodynamic farming, or a brand name for products from biodynamic farming.
- Biodynamic farming is harmonizing nature to improve on the quality of agricultural produce while Demeter is a certification attained after practicing biodynamic farming.
- Biodynamic farming involves the use of preparations as named below:
500 (horn manure), 501 (silica), 502 (yarrow), 503 (chamomille), 504 (stinging nettle), 505 (oak bark), 506 (dandelion), 507 (valerian), 508 (horsetail).
500 and 501 are field preparations whereas the others are compost preparations.
500 (HORN MANURE)
There are 500,000,000 micro organisms in 1 gram of 500.
- Cow horns(female)
- Lactating cows
- Put the horns in a cool shelter to be able to separate the horn bone from the hornskin, keep for atleast 5 days.
- Cut the length of the horn you want to use and remove the bone
- Put in shade for 2 to 3 days for it to dry well. Do not put under direct sunlight. this helps to preserve our forces.
- Isolate the lactating cows from the herd, but do not tether. Feed these cows on legumes and other pastures. Collect the dung from these cows, and check well to see that there is no soil and other impurities.
- Compact this dung well into the female cow horns. We use female cow horns because they are thick and strong, and their digestion system is connected to their horns and hooves.
- Select a place to bury your horns. The place should be cool, moist, wet, free from plants and not near the road.
- Dig a pit of 1 to 1.5 m deep in any shape you like. Depth /width depends on the number of horns you are haviing.
- While placing the horns in the pit, make sure the horn tips are facing upwards, and the horns should be in a slanting angle in order to enable easy running of water on them, and to avoid water entering into the horns.
- Mix the soil dug out of the pit with compost or fertile soils and bury/cover the horns in the pit with this.
- Leave it to stay 4 months in the pit. It should be buried during the wet season.
Note: If you feed the cows on legumes, you dont need too mix it. If not, then mix it well to see that it all looks soft and fresh.
You can get 500 which is already harvested and mix it in all compost preparations when in the box. You can a lso mix 50 g of 500 with 100 grams of cowpit preparations in 15 ltrs of water and spray.
500 can be kept for 2 years if good storage facilities are provided. It is spread late in the afternoon when plants and soil are breathing in.
Advantages of 500
- It helps the plant to have deeper rooting system.
- It stimulates soil vitality.
Mix 50g of 500 in 15 litres of rain water/clean water. Stir for 1hour in clockwise and anti clockwise movements. Spray after stated time. This is for only 1 acre.
501 (HORN SILICA)
Silica is a six-sided crystal clear stone. It is crushed into powder and mixed with a little clean warm water, then stuffed in a cow horn. The horn tip is placed in heaped sand for water to evaporate. The horns are buried into the ground in a dry season for six months.
Mix 1.5 g to 15 l of water per acre. Stir for one hour and spray very early in the morning on the leaves.
Advantages of Silica
- It helps in the ripeness, sweetness, smell and taste of the fruit.
- Increases on the shelf life of the fruit.
- Helps to expose plants more to sunlight which is used in photosynthesis.
505 (OAK BARK)
Oak is a wide tree but grows slowly. it can live for more than 1000 years. This tree is selected because it can fight against fungi and make plants strong.
The skull of a domestic animal e.g. a cow, pig, goat or sheep; oak bark, water, clay/wooden cork/soil, a pit where water flows regularly.
Procedure for making 505
- Cover the head of the animal in compost for 3 weeks in order to remove all the flesh softly. Do not boil the animal’s head to remove the flesh, but when buried in compost heap, all flesh will be completely removed leaving a clean skull.
- Soak or mix oak bark in cool water to moisten the oak bark, as well as bringing it back to life.Do not soak it in too much water, because while compacting it into the skull, some of the useful oak bark is lost in water flowing as a result of compacting.
- Compact it into the skull very well.
- Cover every hole on the skull and the skull itself so that oak bark doesn’t slip out with clay or wooden cork or soil.
- Bury the skull in a place where there is flowing water but not in a spring or well or borehole. Probably rain water collected from the rooftop.
- It takes 4 months in the ground before being harvested.
Cow Pit Preparation
- Eggshells from a local chicken or basalt rock
- Compost preparations, i.e. 502, 503, 504, 505, 506 and 507
- Cow dung
- A pit and mulching material/dry grass
- Crush the egg shells into fine powder
- Cleano or remove any foreign material from the dung, even the dried one
- Mix the egg shells together with cow dung for 1 hour
- Dig a hole or pit of 1.5m-2m
- Put the egg shells and cowdung mixture in the pit
- Add all the compost preparations 502 – 507 with 504 in the middle. 507 (valerian) has to be sprinkled on the top either before or after covering it with dry grass. 504 (stinging nettle) is put in the middle because it has iron radiations which it adds to the compost.
- Cover the pit with dry grass for 4 months.
HOLISTIC PASTURE MANAGEMENT
Allan Savory described this concept as follows:
If you take many cows or buffalos to graze, make sure they eat up all the grass there, then move them to another place to look for pasture/grass. If plant leaves are eaten up, they try hard to grow more leaves so that they can be able to sustain themselves and in the process, the soil gets more nitrogen. The animals also help in trampling in of shaded leaves, seeds deep into the soil which encourages more plant growth and more varieties.
If trampling takes place, the water holding capacity is increased since shaded leaves will decompose in the soil. He recommended that animals should never graze on new shoots because the plant may die out.
It is better to plant or practice mixed cropping for legumes for the soil to get all nutrients needed in plant growth.
Characteristics of green manure
- Easy to get rid of
- It covers the soil
- Legumes fix nitrogen into the soil, and not non-legumes
- Shallow roots and deep roots
- 100kg per hectare is equivalent to 50 tons of compost.
Examples of green manure
Beans, peas, sun flower, phacelia, buch wheat, cabbage family which are dessert crops, lupin, grain family, ground nuts, borage, soya.
If the top soil is left to cramp and it rains, water does not go deep in the soil, and as such we are advised to loosen/crack/crush the top soil in order to cut short the capillary reaction/network.This is also like a form of mulching.
Burning causes a lot of carbon dioxide in the air, which is more than 6000 cars fuming.
Bees have formic acid while plants have oxalic acid.
There is a need of planting cover crops in form of mixed cropping. There is a need to look at plants critically in order to assess their needs. When bees are fed on cassava flour and sweet potatoes and instead of flower pollen, it can cause them to lose their families, or else even swarming.