Pesticides and synthetic fertilizers sprayed on pastures and hay crops expose our horses to toxins. To protect your horse from these toxins, sustainable farming practices are an option.
HHH: Your horses (and other animals) can consume herbicides and insecticides through grazing.
Poisonous chemicals are redistributed through manure, wind and water. Herbicides are often sprayed under power lines and over pipelines to prevent the growth of trees and brush. Once an animal consumes the toxic foliage, it is distributed through manure as it finds its way to compost bins and gardens.
HHH: If you want to know what's in your pasture soil, test it.
It is common for soils to differ on your property. Be aware of weed growth, terrain that becomes marshy after a rain, hardpan soil, and soft fertile areas. You may have records of what crops covered your pastures years ago. Runoff from neighboring pastures currently affects your soil, yet previous generation abuses may have found their way onto your property as well. Simple color charts indicating pH and three major nutrients can be found at garden centers for a general indication of soil quality. Numerous books are available on symptoms that show up in plants when deficiencies are present, as well as certain plants that indicate clues to your soil type. Minerals are identified in a CEC test. What minerals your plants are actually using are identified in a Lamont (or Reams) test. To test for microbes, make sure a microwave (which kills microbes) is not used. Automated recommendations may be provided by a lab, but personalized recommendations are more specific to your soil needs.
1. Consult with your county extension agent.
2. Refer to a reputable private lab. The most extensive and most economical lab I've found is AgriEnergy Resources 815-872-1190, www.agrienergy.net
HHH: Take a soil sample yearly from each major management zone of your pasture during the height of growing season (midsummer).
DO NOT use an old shovel. Rust can show up as iron in your soil test. Buy a stainless steel soil probe. Make a 6-8 inch hole, cut a 1-inch thick vertical slice and put a 1-2 inch piece from the middle into a clean bucket. Take samples from several (between 5 and 20) places; the goal is to get a good cross section of your pasture to set a baseline. (Follow the requirements of the testing facility; the USDA likes a pint of soil for each test whereas some labs want less.)
Supply information on the use of the land, if compost, fertilizers or amendments have been added. Identify when and what.
Never take a sample after a heavy rain, and, if possible, not within 2 months of dry fertilizing or manure compost (foliar is OK).
HHH: Sustainable products can be applied to your pasture year round and are safe while grazing horses or other livestock.
Organics can be applied before or after planting, while a crop is active, yet NEVER 24 hours before a freeze. Two key products to detoxify your pasture are micro-organisms and humate, which also stimulate microbial activity. Also include a strong (80/20) natural molasses found at your local feed store. Molasses adds nutrition and increases microbial reproduction, rate and count.
HHH: The primary product to put your soil on the road to recovery is a micro-organism package (company packages will vary).
+ A liquid soil amendment is a combination rich in soil microbes, soil micronutrients, nitrogen-fixing bacteria, enzymes, phosphorus, potassium, carbon, and growth hormones.
+To enhance soil biology numbers and diversity, the product should contain millions of micro-organisms. (TIP: There are 10,000 microbes including 14 species and 250 subspecies.)
+ Microbes reduce both nutrient tie-up and leaching, anchor the excessive nutrients, and enhance metabolic rate of plants.
+ Microbial populations, when active at soil temperatures between 70-85º will produce nitrate nitrogen exudate that will feed growing crops.
+ Micro-organisms digest organic matter to form humus.
+ Microbes decompose crop residues, and bind soil particles permitting better water penetration, which reduces erosion.
+ Your pasture, as well as any crop you harvest, is ONLY a byproduct of the microbial life in your soil!
+Some packages may include an aerated compost tea that can increase nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, trace minerals and available chelated micronutrients after the brewing process; can also be used as a foliar feed for crops.
HHH: Include humate and molasses with the micro-organism inoculant.
Humate contains humic and fulvic acid and is high in trace minerals. It detoxifies the soil, benefits soil structure, and maximizes nutrient availability. Humate increases water aggregates, infiltration and percolation, prevents leaching, reduces runoff and erosion, and increases resistance to drought, stress, and disease. Root and top growth are enhanced and crops may rebound better after harvest. Humate can also be used as a foliar to aid stress periods.
Molasses acts as a soil amendment and is an excellent chelating agent. It provides potash, sulphur and trace minerals.
HHH: Include humate and molasses with the micro-organism package.
Humate contains humic and fulvic acid, is high in trace minerals, and may be found in both a liquid and a dry powder form. Humate increases water aggregates, infiltration, and percolating; benefits soil structure, enhances root growth, and reduces leaching, runoff and erosion. Humate can be used as a foliar to aid stress.
Molasses acts as a soil amendment and is an excellent chelating agent plus providing trace nutrients.
HHH: Microbes thrive at a greater rate when their food source is varied.
FISH FERTILIZER (Company products will vary) .
+ When choosing fish, look for one that is double filtered with no unpleasant odor.
+ Cold processing (and/or hydrolysates) protects vitamins, amino acids, enzymes and growth hormones while retaining fresh fish protein, oils, minerals, micro and macro fish nutrients.
+ Sixty naturally chelated nutrients and nitrogen are readily available for plant consumption.
+ Micro-organisms are built by this compost enhancer, which also promotes beneficial bacteria.
+ Natural fish oil is a soil microbial food source.
+ Often combined with fish, kelp/seaweed includes growth regulators to enhance plant growth and development, and contain up to 75 nutrients.
BOOSTERS (Company packages will vary) .
+ Primarily provide immediate energy/food (such as molasses) to microbial life and may include a high energy, nutritious carbon source, assorted teas, and trace elements such as green sand that is also rich in iron, potassium, and calcium from ancient sea floor deposits.
FOLIARS (Numerous foliars and packages are available in the marketplace).
1) Alfalfa Tea: High in Vitamins, calcium, magnesium, minerals, 16 amino acids, sugar, starch and protein.
2) Seaweed Tea: High source of trace minerals and hormones that stimulate root growth and branching. A mild yet effective insect control (esp. on spider mites!). Effective chelator, making nutrients more available to plants.
Other soil supports are Surfactants :
+ Also called a spreader sticker, surfactants increase absorption and allow better coverage.
HHH: Garlic is an effective natural insect repellent.
Plant nutritional imbalances can trigger insect (and disease) problems. Garlic effectively repels hundreds of insects including army worms, fire ants, and grasshoppers. Garlic disrupts insect light sensors, is long lasting, can become systemic, and may be combined with a foliar. It is safe to use on fields, trees, yards and gardens, should have no after taste, and becomes odorless in minutes. Note: Do Not Apply garlic just prior to or during pollination or blooming.
(Shari's bio photo)
Shari Frederick, BS, NMD, LE, a nutritional educator, assists horseowners in making healthier, more natural choices in horse care. She is an advocate of natural prevention and support for overall health, healing and stronger immune systems for both humans and animals. Shari is an independent author, international lecturer and self-styled naturalist. She is also a staunch supporter of "Truth in Labeling" for ALL manufacturers. Contact Shari at Shari@ktc.com and reference Holistic Horse in the subject line.
Copyright © 2007 by Shari Frederick
Reproduction in whole or in part is prohibited without express written permission of the copyright holder
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