Dr Elaine Ingham/compost

I am open minded as to whether she is right, but I am sure, that if she is, it is not just a matter of stop using.... very different idea of how to manage soils, encouraging the soil biology, so there would be a transitional process to get there. I have read that there are Nitrogen fixing bacteria in the soil (not just attached to Legumes), but they don't bother in a normal soil, as it is far easier to just rely on bagged N.

Where is the government, doing or funding research on these ideas?
 

le bon paysan

Member
Livestock Farmer
Location
Limousin, France
sorry, I maybe wasn't clear, but in the other thread you redirected me to, you said "Just for reference my cutting ground gets 3/ 4 tonnes of compost and 40 kgs of AN fertilizer". This isn't exactly what she meant? She said you need to measure the existing biology in your soil, measure the biology in your compost and then square the circle. She definitely doesn't like adding AN even though you're not adding a lot. Her point and really the extreme point I want to explore here is that she believes all the minerals are available in the soil; just needs good and balanced biology to realise it. This is contrary to all 'normal' agriculture which is based on the premise that you need to add back what you have removed. So who follows this principle and gets 2 or 3t/ac barley, wheat etc - Does it bloody work or is it 'snake oil'?
As for fert application I use 40kgs of product so roughly 13kgs of nitrogen.
To get a similar crop I would need to be at least double the rate of compost so I could not do the same size area as now,
 

scotston

Member
@Simon Chiles is on here so he will answer in due course.

I have also just indexed all mentions of Elaine here for you:

You're a gentleman! What a service. I did type in the same into the search and broadly came out with similar results so I'll get on with looking through and finding some nuggets. But yes hopefully Simon and the rest of the hordes can assure me she isn't nuts...
I am open minded as to whether she is right, but I am sure, that if she is, it is not just a matter of stop using.... very different idea of how to manage soils, encouraging the soil biology, so there would be a transitional process to get there. I have read that there are Nitrogen fixing bacteria in the soil (not just attached to Legumes), but they don't bother in a normal soil, as it is far easier to just rely on bagged N.

Where is the government, doing or funding research on these ideas?
well, we've stopped using for years being organic but we still get derogations, based on chemical analysis, to apply Boron, sulphate of potash etc. I think if I could prove that the number one fundamental that is taught, lime, is not required, that would shake the foundations? We still use plenty of lime but I'm not sure if it really makes a huge difference in our already low input system. I'm just looking to try and see how far organic can go. And no inputs, they bugger up profit way before crap yields.
 

scotston

Member
As for fert application I use 40kgs of product so roughly 13kgs of nitrogen.
To get a similar crop I would need to be at least double the rate of compost so I could not do the same size area as now,
Indicating an 'upper limit' of productivity from your soil/biology/plants that means you can't necessarily pay the bills I suppose so you need to 'push' it a little? Hopefully that comes over as polite, I ain't a fundamentalist. Just hate paying some dick for a product he makes more money with little effort that I will ever do.
 

le bon paysan

Member
Livestock Farmer
Location
Limousin, France
Indicating an 'upper limit' of productivity from your soil/biology/plants that means you can't necessarily pay the bills I suppose so you need to 'push' it a little? Hopefully that comes over as polite, I ain't a fundamentalist. Just hate paying some dick for a product he makes more money with little effort that I will ever do.
Profitability and Productivity are now balanced and constrained only by climatic conditions that are outside my control.
I cannot stock heavily enough to produce enough compost without buying from outside. Whether that be buying Hay ,Straw or Fertilizer. The Fertilizer is the most efficient, cost effective and safe way of importing. It also doesn't come with someone else's weeds or diseases.
 

scotston

Member
A complete and concise answer. Many thanks. Do you bother with any biological testing or are you happy working within your own constraints and therefore don't have many options?
 

scotston

Member
I'm thinking about sending some soil for biological testing with a view to making an appropriate compost to balance what I have. No idea how. I have cattle, sheep, poultry. Hemp straw, lupin straw, wood chips and general forestry chippings (branches etc) I also have a hundred acres going into organic conversion come January that would otherwise be grass in conversion. This is a great opportunity to grow whatever is required to make the best stuff. Shove it all in a big pot and measure the before and after. Perhaps take a rubbish field, perhaps take a good field and maybe have a go at fixing my dock problem by carving the field into two. My brother is determined to use the mechanical weeder to till the roots out. Multiple passes at 150mm with a rotary tine. If Ingham is correct, I just need to make the soil suitable for what I want and unsuitable for what I don't. I get organic subsidy after all so the government is sort of providing the funds for the research.
 

Bogweevil

Member
I believe Dr Elaine suggests that crop rotation is unnecessary if the soil is sufficiently biologically active. I get uneasy when people make claims that fly in the face of 150 years of experimental evidence, but then again that is not to say she is wrong, there may be cases where she is correct.
 

scotston

Member
I believe Dr Elaine suggests that crop rotation is unnecessary if the soil is sufficiently biologically active. I get uneasy when people make claims that fly in the face of 150 years of experimental evidence, but then again that is not to say she is wrong, there may be cases where she is correct.
Exactly. So anyone here tested the theory?
 

martian

DD Moderator
BASE UK Member
Location
N Herts
We had this discussion a few years ago:
 

ben__adamss

Member
BASE UK Member
that's the principle I'm excited by. What if she's right and we don't need lime or P,K. Don't need too much nitrogen as it simply turns to Nitrate and creates weeds (we have an excellent field of Docks after battering a field with all kinds of muck to grow organic OSR). We don't need boron or sulphur or molybdenum etc. ShooTA says there are many folks on here that use the principles - nice to hear someone say, 'yep, I grow a standard mix of this and that over 500 acres and never bought a thing in me life!'

I think to get to that point of not needing anything will take a considerable number of years to get to that stage of soil health and biological activity, but definitely don't think its impossible
 
This is a FB page that the fella is on. The issue for us we bought the microscope and have no idea what we are doing or looking for. Ingham is great however, for us mere GCSE science quals it doesnt work. I found it impossible. Microscope still here in box.
 

scotston

Member
This is a FB page that the fella is on. The issue for us we bought the microscope and have no idea what we are doing or looking for. Ingham is great however, for us mere GCSE science quals it doesnt work. I found it impossible. Microscope still here in box.
Thanks for that. Sorry, what FB page? When you say she is great do you have a little more detail? I reckon that Microscope might be better coming North...
 

scotston

Member
We had this discussion a few years ago:
I was going back through the Index that Chris F sent but it would have been a long time before I got here. Much obliged. I'm on page 4...
 
Sorry my grammar was sloppy there. My fella watches and follows a lot but for him he finds it impossible to understand. Like I said we have no science quals.

It started our compost making adventure and understanding the principals of essential bacteria (and life) in soils. However it stops there as we got lost. We only once took the compost sample to Laverstock the lab was at the end of its life there very strange set up all seemed to be closing down. Wasnt filled with confidence. Cost us a fortune and we couldnt read the results and if anything they were not what we expected for the huge fee. After that we lost interest and just made compost for the land. It just made us look thick.


Open to offers - https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/184635970016
 
My opinion is you are better off keeping things simple and using resources such as this:

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Which is as succint and informative as you can get.
 

CHAP Webinar - Innovative tools to overcome the challenges of Regen Ag

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Applying principles of regen ag can incur a range of on-farm challenges. Learn how innovative tools & machinery can help with these hurdles.

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