Town and Country Farmer • Autumn 2004
• If the weeds e.g.blackberries,gorse orlantana are on steep or inaccessiblehillsides then often the only way out is toclear some smaller areas and plant treespecies that will eventually grow to shadeout the areas.• Clearing and pulling roots out,thenPeppering (see side box) to stop newgrowth and replanting,and covering thesoil is another solution.The Peppering inthis instance does not stop or kill thewoody plants,but it ensures that futureseeds are infertile.
4. Cropping weeds
This is a big subject,where we are juststarting to experiment.Specific weedscome up for specific crops.For exampleApple of Peru (Nicandra physalodes),Thornapple (Datura Stramonium) andRedroot (amaranthus) like areas wherethe soils have been loosened andmounded.Their purpose is to hold thesoils together and shade the young crop!
• Cultivation,cultivation,cultivation!!Timing,use of spring tine harrows,fingerweeders,push hoes (for smaller areas).• Mulching,covering the ground,turning in a green manure crop prior toplanting to clear some of the seed bankout.• No-Till:grow a tall green manure cropsuch as forage sorghum and roll it over tolie flat on the ground.Go through with acoulter to plant seedlings into groundcover.• Under-sowing:grow a low growingground cover type crop or plant,such asPurslane in potatoes to keep areasbetween crops covered,or pasture grassesthat will come up after the crop overheadis harvested and become part of therotational grazing program.• Double cropping:e.g.soybeans orclover between the rows.• Peppering:collecting weed seed headsfrom last crop,burning to ash and puttingout the ash as the next crop is planted.
INSECT AND DISEASEMANAGEMENT
The appearance of insects attackingplants on horticultural crops is a sign of imbalance.Insects can tell if a plant isunder stress and that is why sudden attackis a sign from your crop that all is not well.Using insecticides whether organic orconventional is only killing the messengeragain.In Biodynamics,the Horn SilicaPreparation 501 is excellent at bringing theatmospheric aspect into balance andkeeping the plant’s sugar saps up (highBrix).Moulds,mildews and fungal diseaseoften occur when the earth andatmosphere is moist and warm.Rudolf Steiner,initiator of Biodynamics oftenspoke of the boundary of the top of thesoil moving up into the plant as the soilbecomes over-permeated with too muchmoon (water) forces.This often occurs atFull Moon and when the Moon is close tothe earth (Perigee).When this happensthe soil life also moves up into the plantthinking they are still in the soil,leading tomildew and fungal diseases.Horn Silica Preparation 501 andEquisetum 508 brings the balance of waterin the atmosphere and helps push backthose too strong moon forces,into the soil.Regularly applying BiodynamicPreparations as a precautionary pre-planting program in Spring and earlySummer also strengthens the plants andkeeps sugar sap levels up.
The importance of Horn SilicaPreparation 501
In the Spring issue (Volume 20 No.3)we spoke of the role of Horn SilicaPreparation 501 in increasingphotosynthesis and the sugar sap levelsgoing to the plant roots as exudates,thusincreasing the nutrients to attract thebeneficial bacteria and fungi in the soilmicro-life leading to better growth forcesto the plant.Biodynamic Grape growers using theHorn Silica Preparation 501 have noticedthat the skin on their grapes is stronger,the peduncle is woodier and thicker,andeven the leaves more robust,and thus havemore resistance to fungal,insect attackand splitting.Spraying the BiodynamicSprays such as Seaweed brew and FishEmulsion or Biodynamic Compost Teashas also shown to keep the beneficialdominant fungi and bacteria coating theleaves and fruit well to keep out the non-beneficials!The speed at which the Horn SilicaPreparation 501 can turn things around isquite dramatic.Recently,I had a call froma wheat farmer to say that Red LeggedEarth Mite was attacking his young shootsof wheat – as they usually did at this stageof the crop.I checked when he had lastused 501 and he replied "not yet".Isuggested he go out next morning,early,and spray the crop area,a light mist intothe air at sunrise – even just going aroundthe boundary of the wheat crop.He rang later to say that the RedLegged Earth Mite was leaving the crop –running in confused circles and movingout! He had balanced the atmosphere andalso lifted the sugar sap levels of the wheatshoots.The next crop he put out theBiodynamic Soil sprays (Horn ManurePreparation 500,Manure Concentrate -CPP,Horn Clay and Fermented 508) andthe Atmospheric sprays (Horn SilicaPreparation 501 and Fresh Equisetum orCasuarina 508) prior to planting and four-leaf stage,saving insect attack.
Sugar Sap levels as anIndicator of Health
The best way to check sugar sap levelsis through taste.Check some of yourpasture grasses to see if they taste sweetand flavourful – they will also be to yourstock.Testing Brix levels - lifting to over 12 isa sign that all is well.Using all theBiodynamic Preparations also ensures thepresence of complex long chain sugars,which are also helping the plant tooptimum health.(See side box for shortand long chain sugars).
Rotational grazing,keeping ahead of the cycles,ensuring there are Dung beetlesto eat the fly larvae in the dung,andhealthy soils and animals all help here.But whilst getting to that stage of balance,peppered Buffalo Fly ash – preferablypotentised to 8x in the drinking watertroughs can have a good effect.Seaweed,either as a liquid Biodynamic brew orpowdered and added to their water ormineral licks also supports the animals inthis summer stress.
Monolyptas fly when the new leavesand flowers are out and can strip trees of all their new growth.A BiodynamicTropical Fruit grower,Gordon Northam,of Sandy Beach,North of Coffs Harbourhas had great success in overcoming hisMonolypta problem.When they came in and totally buzzedhis trees,he placed plastic sheeting under atree,hit it a few times and then collectedall the beetles below.He then blendedthem in the blender with water and diluted1:10 and sprayed back on.The result:noMonolyptas.They have also kept awaythis year as well.Gordon left two macadamiasunsprayed so he can collect more beetles,if he needs the spray again.They were justabout stripped,but none of the other treeswere touched!
Dealing with Birds and Animal pests
Raiders of the crops! In the long-termlandholders need to look at thebiodiversity and predator cropping,asdetailed below.Meanwhile,manyproducers have found peppering of theproblem bird (e.g.starlings in grapes,28’s(a parrot),cockatoos and bowerbirds) oranimal (wombats,roos,rats,snakes,fruitbats) to be of fantastic help.Biodynamic Olive and Grape Grower,Jude Gauntlett of Nerrabup,WA,confirmsthat they have been having marvellousresults with Biodynamic Peppering againstparrots."Last year we picked not an olive from19 trees," states Jude."This year we haveno parrots and loads of olives – only