Saturday, February 4, 2017

Hugelkulture, Horses, and Cleaner Waterways

We experiment. We practice and we teach. I am convinced that permaculture is the best route for horse owners to follow to use their pastures to improve the environment.

Mud,muck, manure and runoff have been the primary characteristics of too many pastures for too many years. Removal and containment have been the only solutions offered to horse owners. We have fallen prey to the belief that the only solution to what appears to be soil saturation is to ditch and drain the pasture.

We are beginning to realize that the problem, and the solution, to waste management is much deeper than the surface. Soil compaction makes it impossible for water to percolate down where it is needed. Soils devoid of beneficial microbes do not incorporate the nutrients that manure provides.

We are working to encourage water and manure to go into the soil instead of standing on the surface or running off into nearby water ways. We employ a multitude of strategies to get that done,subsoiling,use of forbs and weeds whose roots aerate the soil, encouragement of dung beetle and earth worm proliferation and some wind row composting.

Swales and hugelkulture barriers might become a big part of our environmental improvement strategies. In the picture above the kids are beginning a hugelulture demonstration project. Wood, straw, manure. compost and a bit of molasses will go into the shallow pit and will continue to build up above ground until the mound is about four feet tall. It will then be capped with top soil.

The mound will be hyper fertile. Vegetation growing on and around it will absorb water and nutrients from the surrounding soil. The interior of the mounds will serve as sponges to pull surface water underground and store it for the use of all vegetation whose roots reach it.

Eventually I would like to have the lower ends of our pastures lined with hugelkulture mounds that will be a barrier between the horses and the streams and ditches. That will take several years to accomplish.

Building good soil--growing dirt-- takes time but long journeys begin with short steps.

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