Mowing and grazing.
When you mow a field, you do this with a certain policy. You follow a cutting policy. A field that is grazed is 'maintained' by the grazing animals. They eat what the like, overrun what they do not like on there way to all the other things they like to eat.
Here the hot summer sun ensures that the crop withers, so that in the course of the year, very little food for the animals is left. So during the summer and autumn, it is common that they yell at the gate to ask for more food. If then a farmer has won no hay to feed his cattle, he has a problem. Either the animals have a problem. They run endless ends across the land in search of any edible blade, making them sometimes eat the inedible until they die. ('Jacobs Ragwort'.) The soil impoverishes.
Sometimes this land is torn and sown with grain, which then has to grow in the course of the winter, again to be grazed by animals. A cereal crop only adds nothing to the soil. The land impoverishes even more. Occasionally a legume is sown, which can also be eaten by animals. This is the best way to improve the land, but still this is done rarely.A not insignificant circumstance is that the land can contain many large stones, making the maintenance difficult. It makes plowing heavy, mechanical mowing sometimes is impossible.
This is what we see happen around us.
A vegetable garden.
Our house is situated on a hill, an Alentejo Monte. The land on the Monte is full of stones. In itself, this ground is practically unsuitable for the cultivation of a crop. Precisely because it is almost impossible to work on it. Nevertheless, we have built a vegetable garden on this ground. Precisely because we garden on an (almost) no land-based way, thanks to the compost we make, that replaces large amounts of soil and improves it. (So we grow off the ground with improved soil.) We have collected parts of the soil on the Monte that we can use, sifted and mixed it with our grass compost. With this we have created an enclosed kitchen garden.
A cultivation method, which in fact can take place anywhere. In the city, on the roof, on the balcony, everywhere... Also read: 'Stone Dust Stardust'.
The cutting field.
Down by the river, adjacent to our Monte, lies a beautiful land, almost without stones, consisting of alluvial soil from flooding. In the past, the river often came beyond its shores. Today the river is mostly dry, because the copper mine takes a lot of water.
On this soil we could grow crop. In the past, this has happened a lot also. Wine was mainly grown. Now there are some olive trees only. But we do not grow crop in this soil. It is too far from the house in order to keep a good overview; it is the land of rabbits and wild pigs. And a large part of the year there is no water, unless we would build a bore hole. We use this land as a cutting field and for the most part it is grazed by sheep.
Animals eat what they like. They let be what they do not like, or simply what can not be eaten. This they do year after year. We call this selective grazing. The plants, which are eaten make no seeds and are not further developed. The plants, which are not eaten prevail. So the cattle creates its own impoverishment. When we swap grazing and mowing of the land, then we break this cycle.
Apart from the mono cultures, traditionally it is well known that a richness of species is far more favorable for animals and humans. The more herbs and grasses we can harvest, the better a cattle thrives and the more substances our grass compost contains.
We mow the herbs and grasses once a year. In a good year, we could also mow twice, but we want to make the crop grow out fully (on stem), so it can spread. With this dry crop we make our grass compost.
Storing the hay.
We mow the land in the summer when the grass is dry and ripe. We store the harvested hay, to compost it in the winter when the outside temperature is more favorable. The summer heat would only boost the composting process, which would ensure high scalding temperatures, what will cause a great loss of organic matter.
The air is too dry also, causing the warm winds dry out a big bag of grafted grasses very easily. Then the composting process will come to nothing. Hay remains hay and will never be composted. Often our composting begins not before October.
A good preparation with grafting fluid is needed for the success of the composting process. The immersion barril contains a fraction of manure from herbivores, water and leachate. In here the hay is immersed, pressed down with force and kept there with a heavy stone. Here it remains one day before it is put into the drip barrils. It has been found that one day dripping it sufficient, otherwise the material will get too dry.
Then we collect the grafted hay in collecting barrils, until the moment that we have collected one m3 of grafted material, after which we can empty all bins in a big bag for heating/forcing (to scald/brew).
Here the actual composting process begins. So everything that precedes the big bag is just preparation. To obtain the crucial, much needed, correct bacteria that give a boost to the composting process and forward the whole process in the right direction at once.
After approximately one week we stop forcing, stepping down the material. Now, the process continues in a colder composting, in which the content of organic matter in the material is converted into humus, with which it will not volatilize in CO2. All of this together takes about 3 to 4 months.
Three to four months later.
The compost in the big bag is ready after 3 to 4 months. By leaving it in the big bag, the compost can be conserved. Nothing will happen with it, until the moment we take it out of the big bag. From that moment on all the processes will take affect, to which oxygen is based. Here oxidation creates the unfolding of the bacterial life, which is good for the soil and plant life.
Now we take the compost out of the big bag and load it into a trough to ripen. The structure of the grasses is still recognizable. The compost can already be very easily cut. This is the sign that the composting process is complete. As the ripening of the compost progresses it turns darker.The ripening process can be accelerated by stirring the compost, to turn and sift it. Then new oxygen will enter, through which the compost will oxidize. At this stage there can not be any more scalding because all the fresh parts have now been converted into compost.
By sieving the compost, it will get the condition, to be an optimal means, to initiate bacterial life in the soil.
'Composting in 3 minutes'
'The composting of grasses. How I do it'.
'Why immerse materials before composting?'
'The great immersion barril picture show!?
'Microbiology for Dummies'.
'How a blade of grass gave birth to a bean'.
'The method Krantz'.
'Compost is not a fertilizer. It is a precondition for soil activity'.
'Stone Dust, Stardust'.