Regenerative Agriculture farmers are moving away from industrial approaches to farming to avoid disturbing the soil and therefore the microbiome within it. We understand the importance of Diversity in our garden system and this will be reflected in the Soil Food Web of microbes & fungi.
In order to re-plant a crop after harvest remnant plants are “chipped” at, or JUST below, soil level and left to decompose in situ. Cutting plants off means their roots slowly decompose (returning their nutrients to the soil) and provides channels for air, water, microbes and eventually new roots to develop easily.
Into this a cover crop mix is broadcast and lightly “scratched” into the top centimetre of soil. Graeme Sait’s research has found the best results come from a blend of five families of plants: Legumes, Brassicas, Grasses & Cereals, as well as Chenopoids. These species seem to have an positive “aleopathic” effect on the plants around them so they ALL flourish. Other examples include true Dandelion, Moringa, and Ginger. In some examples, horse breeders insist on 80+ varieties to be included!
Peter Andrews (OAM) Natural Sequence Farming has used so-called “weed” species to improve his degraded soil over time so we really can forget about pulling weeds out by their roots for ever!!!
At YCG we have just chosen the following 9 species and their percentage of the mix:
Lucerne, Dunn Pea – Legumes (20%)
Mustard Greens – Brassica (5%)
Annual Rye grass & Barley – Grass & Cereal (70%)
Amaranth – Chenopoid (5%)
We’ve also included Chicory, Daikon for their deep tap roots bringing minerals up and providing flowers for pollinating insects. We could also have added Teff (purchased from Supermarket), Broad Leaf Plantain and Borage.
When sowing you only need a hand full of the mix for every square metre. After we’ve scratched them into the top centimetre of soil we’ll walk over them to apply some pressure for a better germination rate.