Integrated Intensive Farming
Feeding the ground works.
A lesson from Little House on the Prairie
Laura Ingles Wilder, writing in the Little House on the Prairie series of nine books describes repeatedly the life cycle of the prairie where, briefly, all animals large and small lived, ate, ate each other, and died on the prairies, and fires periodically cleared the fields.
Thinks about all the needed steps worked together to produce this enormous fecundity in those prairies. Literally millions of animals, plants, and insects in an interrelated dependency reaching back thousands of years, and yes, the fires also.
Every organic molecule has an organism that can break it down to recycle it back into the ground. No exceptions. So to keep the soils organisms thriving, we need to feed our soils.
A scene from Dances With Wolves showed what was described in different writings when herds of American Bison (“Buffalo”) traveled through a prairie area flattening the ground and turning the plants into liquid and solid fertilizers then trampling this into the topsoil with their heavy hooves.
They recovered. It's part of the cycle of life we keep ignoring because we have isolated our thinking both in sciences and in farming and ranching practices to the detriment of the organic systems around us.
To accomplish superior results on farms and cattle, integrate organic farming and ranching processes with this historic knowledge of how soils recycle nutrients.
A Low Stress Ranch
By creating a ranch where cattle are kept in the same area as fruit or nut trees are raised, water made by cows is captured as a vital nutrient source by the trees to grow crops. Cox waste can be tilled into the soil as fertilizer recycled immediately into a useful substance to fertilize the undersoil maintaining the soils organisms.
This takes a slightly different practice since the tree trunks will need protection and the branches need to be trimmed above the reach of the cattle. However, the crops will be maximized.
Tilling the land periodically ensures all dung is recycled, and, the cattle have soft ground on which to walk.
Integration works with aquariums alsoClick thumbnail to view full-size
About a century ago farmers noticed cattle fed crop remnants and grain grew faster and tasted better that those fed hay alone. Feedlots were created to grow the cattle to their selling weight.
If you have ever driven past a yard as the author did just last week, you soon realize this is not a very good environment for the cattle. We are from California and prefer happy cows.
To accomplish this cattle can be raised in the pasture like settings of the fruit farms where the soils are soft, and, when they arrive, the grasses and alfalfa are green and growing on the ground. This will also improve the taste of the beef.
Additional food stocks comprised of hay, silage, and grains added to feed the cattle are recycled by the cattle themselves into the fertilizer needed by the trees for optimal growth and crop production.
As with all animals, a low stress environment and varied diet produces superior results.
Silage is a fermented plant product which partly digests the nutrients and greatly increases its nutrient density and variety. Organisms that digest the plant materials also create nutrients such as folic acids, so vital in both cattle and human health.
Cattle should be moved from plot to plot to reduce the fertility or simply reduce the density of cattle per acre. Cattle will have fresh green plants to eat as they are moved, or as they move around the plots.
Thinking again of the prairies, bears and Indians chased the Bison around the prairies and forced them to move on, as if simply the need for more food didn't already do that, but predatory behaviors are not correlated to the depletion of foods for the cattle, rather to the abundance of foods which bring the ruminants to the area, so predation and driving animals off by predation helps preserve some of the living plant life, which, in turn, takes advantage of the fertilization of the soils by the animals. Let's not forget the predators also make fertilizer from the animals consumed.
It all works together, it is integrated.
Not discussed nor understood until the last fifty years were the millions of species of microbes and small insects which depend on this process to live, recycling those materials unceremoniously pushed into those soils by the large animals. The microbes cycling these nutrients back into the soils making them available for use by plants.
Not understood t that time was the positive effect of fires and of having large predators, including the now extinct Great Planes Grizzly, large cats, Indians on foot and later on horseback hunt those animals creating the dense herds which moved about to find food and avoid being predated, their bodies being entered prematurely into the soils by the predators and scavengers.
We at least largely understand the processes now and how this creates nutrient rich soils.
Cycling high densities of cattle into these pens imitates what s seen in nature where predators force ruminant animals to form dense groups to help reduce predation. The effect is to eliminate shrubs brush, eat off layers of grasses, and cycle nutrients through the animals back into the ground while their hooves literally push nutrient into the ground which feeds the trees and also the microbes in the soils.
Soil Cycling Process
The trees will need shielding from the animals and so screens are built around the trunk, and branches trimmed above 6 feet.
Cover crops can be used in the fields to add nutrients to the soils, which cattle will then use as browse, retuning them too as fertilizer. They also need hay introduced, as well as water. Water is easily diverted from the trees and so used twice with only the amount the cattle evaporate lost, salts added for their digestion is expelled in urine and dung, and this too waters the trees.
The crops of fruits benefit from the highly fertile soils enriched by microbes in their soils, which are continually fed by cattle wastes, and the crushing into the soils by hooves the animal nutrients feeding the microbes in the soils, again to the benefits of the cattle and the trees.
Cover crops also increase the nitrogen in the soils by legumes fixing nitrogen (taking nitrogen gas from the air and making a molecule from this usable by the plants and organisms.
Benefit to Cattle
Cattle benefit from this process by living a less stressful live in a ranch setting where greens are fed to enhance their nutrient uptake, they are not raise standing in their own wastes, and the sun is partly blocked by the trees. The meat is organic and rich, and, when slaughtered, the waste is put back into the worm bins or directly into the soil trenches. Even the bone is ground into the soils or burned by the pyrolysis unit and then ground benefiting the soils.
Animals so treated will produce high grade meats.
Benefit to Mankind
This increased density of food production not only enhances the soils, and so the crops, both plant and animal, raised on it, but also teaches how organic systems can be integrated to the benefit of mankind reusing water and degrading animal waste into the soils, possibly preventing both humans and animal diseases.