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Date: Sat, 12 Sep 1998 09:59:50 EDT
Subject: Re: Buckwheat and biofumigation (and phosphorus
Well, I enjoyed Steve's informed rant on buckwheat and P, though I disagree
with several points. I'll mention a few:
* Most soils are likely to contain enough P. If it is "low" it is
as likely to be through chemical availability as through an absolute
shortage. Applying rock phosophate, which makes you responsible for
a strip mine in someone's back yard, is an emergency measure, not a
knee-jerk response to a problem which may have less violent
solutions than tearing up the earth, smashing its rocks to dust, and
expending huge amounts of energy (with consequent pollution) shipping
heavy rock long distances. You don't need it if the phosphate mine
is in your back yard after all.
* Buckwheat is not "unique" as a phosphorous accumulator.
* I disagree with the strong emphasis on composting separate from
the general soil activities. In my view, composting is something I
need to do when I lack a more direct means to apply organic matter to
my permaculture system or if there is something wrong with the
material to be composted (e.g. pathogens). There are vital pulses in
soil chemistry that are short circuited by removing the composting
operation from the soil in general. If you apply P-bearing materials
to the surface (bone meal, phosphate rock, etc.) and apply mulch,
sheet mulch except when inappropriate, the P will be released at
exactly the zone where plant roots gather nutrients. (See Vol. I,
#3, of the International Permaculture Solutions Journal). The same
is true of other rock powders (with the same reservations), etc.
* Keyline cultivation deserves a mention here because it is the only
way I know to build soil using conventinal agricultural equipment.
It too, releases the P already in the soil.
If one has an absolute shortage of P, and it is essential for people to live
in that place for some (unimaginable) reason, then hiring people to destroy a
patch of earth somewhere else may be pertinent. Be sure to go over your rock
phosphate with a geiger counter though--it is often radioactive as it often
occurs with uranium which may be why you see it produced and marketed
by nice folks like Kerr McGee. (Most people on this list likely
being too young to remember what that is about.)
Sorry to break in from my lurk, but I'm particularly interested in these
topics. I promise to try hard to avoid responding to further discussion on
For Mother Earth, Dan Hemenway, Yankee Permaculture Publications
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