Tuesday, March 20, 2012


This past weekend we put the recommended minerals and fertilizer from Midwestern Bio-Ag on the grazing lines.  We don't have any fancy equipment, so it's just me tossing them on, but I've gotten really good at spreading the lime, sul-po-mag and fertilizer on evenly and not having any leftover or anywhere unfertilized on each line.  My arm feels like it's going to fall off now, but two lines are done, one nearly done and only one more to go.  I didn't realize how good I'd gotten at it until Ethan tried to help me one evening and I put two bags on before he had even finished one.

This was the sul-po-mag.  It's like Epsom salts with potassium.  This was the soil corrective, along with the pell-lime, because it's very acidic soil--5.8 on the soil test.  The consultant at Midwestern Bio-Ag said that even putting just lime on should make a huge difference.  We won't put any more on for three years until we retest to see if it made any difference and if we need more.  I tried to specifically target the cactus and blackberries when I had any lime left over, because they like acidic soil.  According to Gary Zimmer's book Advancing Biological Farming, different minerals become more available depending on how basic or acidic the soil is.  He says that the reason blueberries need acidic soil is because manganese is so much more absorbable at a low pH, and blueberries need a lot of manganese.  Therefore, it is possible to grow blueberries in a soil with a higher pH if there is plenty of manganese.  Not really a problem here, but I thought it was interesting.  A lot of the minerals that are better absorbed in acidic conditions are the ones that there was a lot of in our soil, interestingly, like iron.

Anyway, we're also putting on the 20-5-5 fertilizer they recommended.  The label also says it has lots of trace minerals that we just don't have here, like copper sulfate, zinc and boron.  They were shocked when we told them we don't put any nitrogen or anything on at all, but I think they didn't quite realize that the grazing lines only existed at all last summer.  We do run chickens over it, but it's not making a very permanent difference, although I'm sure the oyster shell they eat does help with calcium.

Anyway, there are so many things I can hardly wait to see how they turn out.  Are the cows bred?  Will we have baby goats??  Will the Freedom Rangers be tasty?  Will the garden survive?  Will the grass improve?
It's so hard to wait for things to grow.


  1. Okay, Novice question: What are Grazing Lines?

  2. No, good question...we might be the only ones who call it that! I think most people call them grazing lanes, now that I think about it. We've just gotten in the habit of talking about them as lines.
    We've divided the land for grazing into lanes with semi-permanent electric fencing. To make a paddock we stretch movable electric fencing across two sides to enclose it. This allows the paddock size to be varied as much as you want, and to move the animals you only have to put up another line of fencing on the other side to create an adjacent paddock. It makes rotational grazing affordable and easy, and is important for good management, because you have to be able to vary the size of the area being grazed based on how much forage is available.