Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Applying compost tea

Over the past 2 weeks I have been making and applying our own compost tea. I am still experimenting with different recipes and seeing what kind of results I can get. The idea is to get the highest quality tea at the lowest price per gallon. I have used several different people's solid compost. Harry MacCormack's leaf, Shepard Smith's compost, and Joe Richard's vermicompost. I have used various things as food: Hendrikus Organic's Organobloom 5-2-4, EarthFort's Solu-Plks and Acadian Kelp, and fish from Bob Wilt. The first batch had zero active fungi so I didn't apply it. It hindsight I wish I had, as the bacterial counts were good and you don't necessarily need high fungal counts all the time. The second batch I used a recipe from Soil Foodweb and pretreated the compost for 3 days with fish and Solu-Plks. The results that came back were very good, but the cost of the ingredients is very high. I am trying to find out if I can get good tea without using the kelp or pretreating the compost. The kelp is extremely expensive, about 167 dollars for 10 pounds, and it takes 5 pounds per 1200 gallon batch. Pretreating helps increase the fungal counts, but it takes an extra 2 or 3 days. Having that much time between batches is difficult this time of year when every patch of good weather has to be taken. I am waiting on the test results from my latest batch which was made with Joe Richard's vermicompost, 40 oz of fish, and 80 oz of Solu-Plks. I have been applying the tea to our higher value ground first. That is to say the wheat, peas, and flax. The grass seed ground is a lower priority but is still important. Due to various hang-ups with getting the brewer up and running and figuring out a recipe that works we are a few weeks behind schedule on spraying. After this fall application we will not spray again until the spring.

Planting winter peas as a cover crop

This fall we planted about 75 acres of golden and green peas as a winter cover crop. Having a legume in the ground over the winter will help increase the nitrogen in the soil for the next crop. It also helps prevent soil erosion. Not only are these peas going to provide nitrogen-fixing and "green manure" benefits, but we are being paid by the NRCS to put them in. The fields with the peas have now been limed and sprayed with compost tea in addition to the planting of the peas. The fields should provide us with much better yields on our next crop of wheat or oats.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Grain mill construction progress

Construction of the large grain mill at our warehouse is progressing well. The building is taking shape and the main equipment has been delivered. Electrical work will proceed soon. We hope to have our 1000 pound per hour mill up and running within 6-8 weeks at the earliest. Thank you to Rick Laymen for the carpentry, and Willow Coberly for keeping us on our toes!

Fill-Your-Pantry Market a HUGE success! Thank you!

Wow what a response! The market here at A2R Farms last Saturday surpasses all expectations with the huge turnout. Between 300-400 people came out looking to stock up on a wide variety of goods. We want to thank everyone who participated, including the planning group, the Bean and Grain Project, and all the farms who brought such wonderful food to sell! A2R had several snags such as lack of availability of processed product, poor visibility of pricing, and no separate line for pre-orders. Rest assured we will address all of the issues we had and be much better prepared next year! We have set a date of November 6th, 2011 for the next event. Here is a list of the product sold by A2R:

Hard Red Wheat Berries - 1139 lbs.
Soft White Wheat Berries - 251 lbs.
Brown Flax - 86 lbs.
Hulless Oats - 95 lbs.
Rolled Oats - 147.5 lbs.
Cayuse Oats - 29 lbs.
Soft White Flour - 99.5 lbs.
Hard Red Flour - 79 lbs.

Again, THANK YOU to all who came out!