Wednesday, November 15, 2023
HomeFruitOur soil was made for storms like these – Frog Hole Farm

Our soil was made for storms like these – Frog Hole Farm


Frog Hollow Orchard & Neighboring Flooded Orchard

Left – Frog Hole Farm Orchard on Monday, Jan 16 2023
Proper – Neighboring Orchard on Monday, Jan 16 2023

Go searching after the lengthy, wet days we’ve had in California. For those who drive by way of farm nation, you’ll see broad puddles of standing water on high of the soil. What’s fallacious with this image? 

In farming, water can’t do its job when it’s sitting on high of the soil. And it could possibly’t do its job when it’s working off the land into the ocean. It could solely do its job when soil can take in it . And soil can solely take in water when it has the construction to take action. That’s why you gained’t see a lot – if any – standing water within the orchards at Frog Hole Farm. Farmer Al has been getting ready for these epic rains since he began his regenerative farming journey in 1986. His dedication to constructing soil well being has turned what would have been an unlimited puddle right into a spongy ecosystem that’s resilient within the face of utmost climate patterns and local weather change.

The place are we ranging from?

Brentwood’s soil is a mixture of clay and clay loam. Clay soils are heavy and the particles are effective. Clay has a excessive floor space – when clay soils are managed properly, they’ve the flexibility to carry onto vitamins and water very successfully. When clay soils are mismanaged, they change into compact. This will create flooding situations and situations which can be laborious for crops to develop in.  

We try to farm in a manner that maximizes our clay soil’s inherent strengths. We do that by way of regenerative farming practices:

    • We don’t until the land. Tilling with heavy equipment opens up the soil for planting, however over time it could possibly additionally compact the soil and shatter its construction. When soil is compacted, it might not be capable of maintain as a lot water. That’s as a result of the soil’s pore area is decreased. Roots can not survive properly in compacted environments with little water, vitamins and air circulate. Rain merely slides away when the soil doesn’t have the capability to carry any extra. Compacted soil additionally contributes to standing water and runoff, which may result in flooding. Moreover, if there are chemical substances or nitrate fertilizers within the soil, these chemical substances journey with the water into the lakes, rivers and ultimately, the ocean. 
    • We plant cowl crops. We deliberately plant a mixture of  grasses and legumes, and we let volunteers develop wild and free! The foundation constructions of those grasses wriggle into the soil, opening it to air, helpful bugs and… WATER! When the grasses get too lengthy, we mow them and let the cuttings sit on the floor, the place they ultimately flip to mulch that feeds the soil. It’s Mom Nature’s magnificent cycle. 
    • We apply 20 tons of compost, per acre, per yr. Compost feeds our timber with the carbon, nitrogen and microbes they should produce scrumptious fruit. It additionally will increase the natural matter in our soil, which will increase the quantity of water our soil can maintain. For each 1 % enhance in our soil natural matter, whether or not it’s by way of cowl crops or added compost, our soil can maintain 20,000 extra gallons per acre.  

The place are we now?

Farmer Al has by no means seen this a lot rain abruptly within the 46 years he has been farming in Brentwood. 

  • Brentwood receives a mean of 9 inches of rain per yr.
  • From September 1 to January 16 , Brentwood obtained 18.85 inches of rain.

All this rain, and nearly no standing water in our orchards. Our soil was prepared for the storms. And now the rain shall be saved in our spongy soil till we’d like it within the rising season. We typically begin irrigating round March. With all this rain, and our soil’s capability to carry onto it, Farmer Al says we could not want to start out irrigating till Could.

That is what regenerative farming seems like. 

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