Early in May at the start of my USA Trip I had two amazing days of workshops in Hungerford Texas. The soils here had the hugest worms and an incredible amount of calcium, like over 14,000 kg/ha!
Just like a deficiency, an excess of any element can cause issues. High calcium can create unconsolidated soils; without adequate biology the very fine soil structure collapses and the surface crusts over. Great conditions for weeds and slow grazing recoveries.
We had some interesting conversations around mechanical solutions vs chemical additions to aerate the soil. If ripping is an option then dripping biological foods (eg seaweed, sugar, fish, humic acid etc) is vital to keep soils open. Solid applications of gypsum are helpful when looking to drop excesses and in opening soils up. It’s a Catch 22 situation as the tight soils inhibit biological action and low biology activity can’t build soil structure. Without good soil structure, air and water movement is reduced which in turn reduces production. Longer term solutions include the introduction of deep tap rooted species like alfalfa (lucerne) and chicory.
The ranchers here were already adopting ‘planned’ grazing; increasing the size of their mobs and lengthening rest periods. The results so far show a significant increase in soil moisture and a reduction in soil temperatures.
It’s always so fascinating traveling the world and seeing what innovations people are using to deal with their local conditions. I fell in love with the gorgeous gregarious Brahman cattle; even if I could fit one in my luggage I don’t think they’re made for our wet cold winters 🙁 those giant worms on the other hand…