Stewarding Our Soil Workshop (various dates)
How to Manage the Beneficial Organisms In and For Your Soil (4 BASIS points: 3E; 1PD )
with Dave Beecher
Sunday 28th January @ Sandy Lane Farm, Sandy Lane, Tiddington, Thame, Oxfordshire, OX9 2LA;
Tuesday 30th January @ West Town Farm, Ide, Exeter, EX2 9TG
These courses are relevant to farmers and growers, and gardeners – and the likes of gardening/agricultural researchers and journalists. The focus of the day will be practical, considering how the soil health principles discussed apply in real life and how we translate them into practice. It will act as a good introduction for those wanting to get started on both understanding soil biology and supporting its healthy development.
We will cover the basics of The Soil Food Web, in a concise format, using a microscope to bring the various characters in our soil to life. We’ll consider their roles and how they interact, as a symbiotic community which provides many benefits including creating the vibrant material called humus, and we’ll look at how conventional agriculture is impacting our soils - how cultivation, fertilizers and chemical sprays impact soil biology and us. This will be taken to another level by illustrating how the nutritional quality of food and our own health are affected, as well as that of the wider planet.
Considering application of these principles we will compare the various composting techniques, focusing on hot/thermophilic composting and how to establish an ideal Fungi to Bacteria ratio (F:B) to maximise crop production and optimise quality. Application manner and timing will be discussed as well as how to make it go further by using compost extracts or teas.
In our current economic climate, with both growers and households coming under increased financial pressure, the issues surrounding farming are not easily solved. However some potential solutions to these problems will be presented by highlighting alternative, innovative approaches - from Ireland, UK and around the world.
N.B. In the past we've run this as a two-day course but we've decided to condense it into one day and remove the specific training in use of microscopes. This is because we believe this is the best way to use both yours and Dave's time; this way if you have an appropriate microscope and would like to attend a day dedicated to learning about how to use it in relation to soil biology then you can put your name down on a list and we will run one when there are enough people, but otherwise you save your time and money and Dave can spend his time teaching people things they are going to go ahead and use right away (or soon enough anyway)! If you would like to register interest for a microscope course, please email Natasha to let her know.
9:30 Welcome and general introduction.
10:00 Introduction to the Soil Food Web.
10.30 How Agricultures impacts Soil Biology.
11:00 PLAYTIME! (Weather permitting outside to look at some soil/compost).
11:30 The Microscope and Microscopy.
11:45 Soil sample collection & preparation.
12:00 Microscope demonstration & soil biological assessment
12.45 Q & A
14:00 Composting, Compost extract & teas
15:30 Practical examples, results and discussion.
Cost (including lunch and refreshments):
£80* Independent Individuals, including farmers and growers with holdings under 350 acres
£125* Estates and holdings over 350 acres
Representatives of businesses (including advisors)
Organisations (including NGOs and Institutions)
* Includes £25 non-refundable administration fee; see booking form for cancellation policy.
We may be able to offer some bursaries, depending on the number of participants enrolling at the higher rate (please enquire for further details if this applies to you