It's the end of the year, so we're taking a look back at 2020 and what our readers – that's you! – were excited to learn about. Check out this list of our top 10 most engaging articles on our free website, www.EcoFarmingDaily.com.
Top 10 Most-Read Articles of 2020
Composting with worms produces a consistently superior product called vermicompost, which contains high counts of beneficial soil micro-organisms.
Harvesting the finished vermicompost from most worm bins presents a problem, though: one either stops feeding a significant part of the bin to take it out of production, encouraging the worms to vacate the area to be harvested, or the worms have to be physically separated from the finished compost.
Genetically engineered organisms are produced by using high-tech methods to insert one or more genes from one species (plant, animal or microbe) into another species (soybeans in this case). In crop plants the inserted genes are usually ones that give herbicide resistance or pest resistance to the GM variety, thus, according to the marketing hype, the farmer can use less herbicide or insecticide, with cost savings and less environmental pollution. The promoters of GM crops have claimed that the technology is entirely safe—safe as food and safe for the earth.
Actually, they haven’t really turned out that great, and now are undergoing lawsuits around the world because of how they, and the pesticides they depend on, work to destroy ecosystems. Not to mention, surveys of GM-using farms have found either very slight reductions in herbicide/pesticide use, or in the case of GM soybeans, considerably higher herbicide use.
Soil fertility and sustainable agriculture practitioners know that most soils today need their health and vitality rebuilt. In times past, nature built healthy, vital soils, and there is value in copying nature in rebuilding soil health. However, we cannot afford to take millions of years to do so as nature did — we need intelligent intervention. Cultivation, grazing, composting, soil conservation, green manuring, soil testing, soil remineralization, fertilizer priorities, fossil humates, and visual soil assessment all play a role in establishing self-regenerative, self-sufficient, fertile soils.
Every living thing will sooner or later die. When it dies, it is going to rot whether you want it to or not. Composting is the art of working with the decay process in an economical way. If you are thinking of setting up a large composting operation, you need to determine the best ways of making sure your product is good and your operation in set up in a profitable way.
Humus forms as a result of the complicated interplay between inorganic conversions and organic creatures such as microbes, nematodes, and earthworms. Humus formation is carried out in two steps. First, the organic substances and minerals in the soil disintegrate. Next, totally new combinations of these broken-down products develop. This leads to the initial stages of humus. Humus formation is a biological process. Only 4-12 inches (10-30 centimeters) of humus-containing soil are available in the Earth’s upper crust. This thin layer of earth is all that exists to provide nutrition to all human life. The destiny of mankind depends on these 12 inches!
Soil restoration is the process of improving the structure, microbial life, nutrient density, and overall carbon levels of soil. Many human endeavors — conventional farming chief among them — have depleted the Earth to the extent that nutrient levels in almost every kind of food have fallen by between 10 and 100 percent in the past 70 years. Soil quality can improve dramatically, though, when farmers and gardeners maintain constant ground cover, increase microbe populations, encourage biological diversity, reduce the use of agricultural chemicals, and avoid tillage.
The humble egg is one of the great staples of the human diet and a major pillar of the local food movement. Modern industrial farms have taken measures to increase egg production rates that go far beyond what we in the eco-agriculture movement would consider normal or humane. But even ecologically-conscious egg producers, whether at the commercial or homestead level, can implement measures to safely increase laying rates. The three most important factors for increasing the productions of eggs are breeding, nutrition, and bird comfort and well-being.
Sometimes referred to as Melissa or Sweet Melissa, Lemon Balm (Melissa officinalis) is a member of the Lamiaceae, or mint family, of plants. Like other mint family members, lemon balm has scalloped, oval- to heart-shaped leaves that grow opposite one another on square (four-sided) stems. Its leaves are bright green on top and whitish below.
Humic acid is a group of molecules that bind to, and help plant roots receive, water and nutrients. High humic acid levels can dramatically increase yields. Humic acid deficiency can prevent farmers and gardeners from growing crops with optimum nutrition. Conventional wisdom today ignores humic acids, though, holding that it is impossible to grow and maintain an urban landscape such as a park, golf course, or lawn without high-analysis NPK fertilizers.
Kunekune pigs (pronounced “cooney cooney”) are a smart option for small farms. Kunekune means “fat and round” in the Maori language. These tasseled, sweet-tempered, medium-sized pigs hail from New Zealand. While no one knows for sure, they are thought to be a cross of Berkshire, Poland China and possibly Gloucester Old Spots among pigs from Indonesia.