Farming Thread

john_Jea

Sparrow
Worm compost and tea. This is something which may be expensive but with rising fertilizer costs it is something to look into.

This is something I haven't shared too much on the forum, but I'm an avid home-scale worm farmer, at most I had about 10 square feet of composting worms in three bins. There are typically 1 pound of worms per square foot in a passively managed or heavily "brown" container, and 2lb/sqft in a more green and actively managed composting system. They rapidly compost anything that was once alive outside of bones, citrus, large chunks of green wood, and some other exceptions, consuming about a quarter of their bodyweight a day. Crops may be fertilized by diluting their castings (poop, aka vermipost) in water, optionally fermenting it with some sugars such as molasses and aerating it, and then spraying it onto crops.

Worm tea has distinct advantages over typical fertilizers and manure.
  • It is a natural insect repellant. There is a compound in worm castings which dissolves chitin, the exoskeletons of pests. It won't kill them, but it repels them, comparable to a skin irritant to us.
  • It is massively probiotic. Worm castings contain many beneficial microbes for plants which prevent harmful diseases from taking hold in your plants.
  • Worm castings contain a growth hormone for plants.
Worm compost does not have as high of an N/P/K ratio as normal fertilizers, but that is counteracted by it being more available to the plants. Normal fertilizer: Vermipost:: Cheap elemental multivitamins: Expensive plant based multivitamins.

Here is a comparison from a small scale experiment using alfalfa:

I've read three books on worm farming and I recommend The Worm Farmer's Handbook by Rhonda Sherman for mid to large scale operations.

I've personally used worm castings and tea on my garden with great success. I had plants that were yellowing and seemed to stop growing make a full recovery.

Worms are surprisingly resilient, in outdoor conditions, European Nightcrawlers can survive zones 7 and probably 6 winters easily, while "Red Wigglers" are better for slightly hotter climates. For colder climates, Canadian Nightcrawlers are a good choice. They also eat a lot more than you'd expect. They love cardboard and will even eat cereal boxes and white paper.

Very interesting, I read one article about it and and already see a bit of a problem

From the article

Things You Can’t Put In Your Worm Farm​


Fresh manures – many animals are treated for worms with vermicides, which pass into the fresh manure and will kill your worms, compost them first!

Do you know of anyone who has scaled this up? What ever fertilizer I go with I will be needing tons of it.
Also does any more effort go into this than regular composting?
 

DanielH

Ostrich
Orthodox
Very interesting, I read one article about it and and already see a bit of a problem

From the article



Do you know of anyone who has scaled this up? What ever fertilizer I go with I will be needing tons of it.
Generally any manures used with worm composting should be left out to compost for at least a few weeks, excepting I think cow manure, but if you're not hot composting then you need to be sure supplier hasn't dewormed their livestock recently - I don't believe it lasts very long in the animals.
Also does any more effort go into this than regular composting?

Yes and no. On one hand you don't have to turn over the compost as you would in a hot compost system, so that is easier. On the other hand, you generally need a way to ensure the worms aren't in the compost when you harvest it. The simplest methods for this are done with worm windrow composting systems where there are long rows of worms and their food, over time you start feeding on one side of the row and continue building in that direction, and the worms will migrate to that side, then the other side may be picked up and transported and there should be very few worms in it. This is what The Worm Farm in Durham California does, below is a picture of their site.
1636050119500.png
Other places use expensive continual flow-through (CFT) worm farms which are open on the bottom and have a blade which shears off the bottom portion of the compost, dropping it through the system. Since composting worms generally live in the top 4-12 inches, no worms are in the bottom portions which are harvested, so all that is required with this type of system is to dump food on top and scoop from the bottom. This is popular for urban worm farms where space is limited. So yeah there are lots of people who have scaled this up, but probably not enough to meet market demand for next year.
1636050418515.png
The third, and most labor intensive method is to just pick up all of the compost irrespective of the worms and process it through a filtering trommel.
 

john_Jea

Sparrow
Yes and no. On one hand you don't have to turn over the compost as you would in a hot compost system, so that is easier. On the other hand, you generally need a way to ensure the worms aren't in the compost when you harvest it. The simplest methods for this are done with worm windrow composting systems where there are long rows of worms and their food, over time you start feeding on one side of the row and continue building in that direction, and the worms will migrate to that side, then the other side may be picked up and transported and there should be very few worms in it. This is what The Worm Farm in Durham California does, below is a picture of their site.
1636050119500.png
The less infrastructure needed the better, I suppose it is necessary to shelter the piles from wind and snow so it wont be flushed of all the good stuff. On the farm above how do they capture the worm tea? Do they just let it seep into the ground?

A pretty inhumane question, is it necessary to remove the worms before applying the fertilizer? Can they reproduce quick enough to be ready for the next batch of compost ( we apply the manure in early spring and dig out of the sheep houses summer/fall) and is it unethical to put worms through a manure spreader :hmm:?
 
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DanielH

Ostrich
Orthodox
The less infrastructure needed the better, I suppose it is necessary to shelter the piles from wind and snow so it wont be flushed of all the good stuff.
That would be a good idea but not necessary. Worm compost is very cohesive stuff, I don't think it would blow away, maybe manure added to the pile would, but not the finished product. Could prevent it by adding manure to the leeward side of the pile instead of the windward side.
On the farm above how do they capture the worm tea? Do they just et it seep into the ground?
They carry away the piles and bag it to ship it. Most large farm owners who buy it as far as I know will order the solid castings and then dilute the compost that gets delivered by putting it into a large tank with aeration and adding sugar, then after 24 hours or overnight it can be loaded into a sprayer to be applied to crops. Some places will sell the tea but that's not really economically viable. A commercial worm tea may be 500 gallons of water, 300 pounds of castings (compost), and two gallons of molasses. The molasses is to increase the microbial life in it, also adds some fertility. I'm guessing 300 lbs of castings would cost $150 buying in bulk, just to give you the economic/practical side of it.
A pretty inhumane question, is it necessary to remove the worms before applying the fertilizer? Can they reproduce quick enough to be ready for the next batch of compost ( we apply the manure in early spring and dig out of the sheep houses summer/fall) and is it unethical to put worms through a manure spreader :hmm:?
Worm populations double in about 60-90 days, so if you harvested half in March, they'd fully recovered by June unless they weren't being fed. Worms don't really think or feel so no I wouldn't say it's unethical. Worms are $50/lb (500 European Nightcrawlers per pound or 1000 red wigglers) retail so most wouldn't do that.
 

john_Jea

Sparrow
That would be a good idea but not necessary. Worm compost is very cohesive stuff, I don't think it would blow away, maybe manure added to the pile would, but not the finished product. Could prevent it by adding manure to the leeward side of the pile instead of the windward side.

They carry away the piles and bag it to ship it. Most large farm owners who buy it as far as I know will order the solid castings and then dilute the compost that gets delivered by putting it into a large tank with aeration and adding sugar, then after 24 hours or overnight it can be loaded into a sprayer to be applied to crops. Some places will sell the tea but that's not really economically viable. A commercial worm tea may be 500 gallons of water, 300 pounds of castings (compost), and two gallons of molasses. The molasses is to increase the microbial life in it, also adds some fertility. I'm guessing 300 lbs of castings would cost $150 buying in bulk, just to give you the economic/practical side of it.

Worm populations double in about 60-90 days, so if you harvested half in March, they'd fully recovered by June unless they weren't being fed. Worms don't really think or feel so no I wouldn't say it's unethical. Worms are $50/lb (500 European Nightcrawlers per pound or 1000 red wigglers) retail so most wouldn't do that.
We currently only have a barrel side spreader.
SS-Misc-8-360x1024.jpg

Were thinking of building a housing for bulls that would require us to buy a liquid manure spreader that would be ideal for what you are describing but for the time being I would opt for spreading it dry If possible.

If I were to spread it with the worms in it then I suppose there would have to be a pile year round as not to completely eradicate the the worm population. That wouldn't really matter as long as everything was ready by early spring.
 

NoMoreTO

Hummingbird
This Carbon Pipeline is weirder than weird. This is definitely some build back better stuff.
The plan to build a carbon dioxide pipeline marketed as “the world’s largest” is drawing opposition from Iowa farmers and environmentalists alike. At a virtual public meeting Tuesday, speakers railed against the proposal by Summit Carbon Solutions to build a sprawling 2,000 mile long pipeline, more than 700 m

Good point here, even when they put in Wind Turbines in my local area the farmers get an annuity check. It's like they are equating this to railroads, the difference is farmers generally speaking wanted railroads, and they were considered useful by society.
“Why should the landowners welcome encroachment on their land for a project that doesn’t pay direct dividends to them other than a vague promise that ethanol is good for corn prices? Why isn’t rent going to be paid for the land or profits shared with farmers?”

Other (((Advocates)))
Meanwhile other advocates and researchers point out that coal-fired power plants and gas-guzzling vehicles will not be phased immediately and argue that pulling carbon directly out of the atmosphere is a powerful tool that can help the world transition to a zero-emission future.
Link_Easement_CarbonLine

^^ There is an image of the plan in the article, can't upload it because of size
 

john_Jea

Sparrow
I have just finished Alan Savory's "Holistic Management, (a common sense revolution to restore our environment)". This book focuses on the theory opposed to his other book "Holistic management Handbook" which deals more with the practical side of things. The only complaint I have is on his consistent climate change and overpopulation fear mongering, also the fact that he worked with the world bank and the U.N., if I remember correctly, is rather suspicious.

Aside from that It's pretty informative, would recommend to those who are interested in the why of regenerative agriculture.
 
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