Making More With Microbes taught by Doug Weatherbee, The Soil Doctor
WHEN: June 23-25 (three full days – cull curriculum at bottom of page)
COST: $480 (includes healthy meals, readings package, instruction, camping space and use of Harvest Moon Learning Centre facilities – showers, classrooms, hang-out space, kitchen, gardens, etc.)
Why spend four days learning about soil?
Obviously, there are ‘big picture’ societal and ecological reasons to care about the quality of our soil (we’ll share some more of those below) – but what’s in it for you?
Well, this course isn’t for everyone, but it might be for you if:
- you are a farmer (small or large), rancher, or own a vineyard or orchard and want to minimize or eliminate synthetic fertilizer or biocides inputs, reduce irrigation needs and improve soil fertility.
- you are an organic farmer, SPIN farmer or CSA operator and you want to improve your organic growing and land management techniques, reduce the requirement for weeding and ecologically favor the plants that you want to grow.
- you are a gardener or horticulturalist and want healthier, more nutrient-dense plants, higher germination rates, less watering, less weeding and overall less work!
- you are a landscape architect or soil restorationist and want to speed up plant establishment and rebuild topsoil (say after construction work), suppress plant diseases, have higher survival rates for plantings all the while using non-toxic inputs.
- you are a permaculture designer wanting to learn more about guilds, plant combining, how to support the soil and establish your food forests faster – starting with the foundation.
- you are an entrepreneur and looking for a new venture to make money and do good things for the planet at the same time – a job you can feel good about (i.e. creating custom composts and compost teas for your clients).
A unique opportunity to learn from an international expert…
Soil Foodweb Advisor and soil expert, Doug Weatherbee (a.k.a “The Soil Doctor”) is coming to Canada and has offered to teach a course for us here in Manitoba! Doug Weatherbee lives in Mexico and although he travels extensively to teach across North America.
Doug has trained extensively with the renown Dr. Elaine Ingham, founder of the Soil Foodweb association. He has studied watershed restoration (you may have heard of Bill Zeedyck’s Induced Meandering river restoration techniques – especially if you’ve taken our PDC). And, he is a Certified Permaculture Designer and Teacher, having studied with one of the world’s leading Permaculturalists, Geoff Lawton.
“The future of our climate and civilization depends up restoring the planet’s 12 billions acres of farmland and pasture land to full vitality, so as to sequester billions of tons of excess greenhouse gases and to produce healthy organic food for the growing global human family. To carry out this Great Transition, we need a corps of Soil Doctors and an army of organic farmers, ranchers, and foresters. Doug Weatherbee is the top Soil Doctor in Mexico and one of the best in the world. His inspiring talk at the 2010 Quivira Carbon Ranch conference was one of the best I’ve ever seen.” –Ronnie Cummins, International Director US Organic Consumers Association
The Dirt on Dirt…
Last year, the world lost 83 million tons of topsoil. One third of the world’s topsoil has been depleted within the past century. The world’s soils hold around three times as much carbon as the atmosphere and over four times as much carbon as the vegetation. Soil represents the largest carbon sink in in our world over which we have control. Industrialized and pesticide-based farming methods have depleted the health of the world’s soil, polluted ground water and contributed significantly to greenhouse gas emissions. Life on our planet depends on the health and vitality of a seemingly simple and often overlooked natural element – soil.
A little more about soil…
- A single teaspoon of soil contains billions of living organisms that are continuously at work, creating soil structure, storing carbon, producing nutrients and building defence systems against disease. In fact, the health of the soil community is key to having healthy plants (and healthy food).
- Soil is a complex community of life and actually supports the most biodiverse ecosystem on the planet. Healthy soil cleans water, stores carbon and purifies and heals the very systems that sustain us.
- Researchers and authors like Jared Diamond and David Montgomery have shown that the most meaningful indicator for the health of the land (and the long-term health & wealth of a nation), is whether soil is being created & built or destroyed & lost.
- And very simply – without soil, food won’t grow.
- Why is it then, that much of the food from the conventional agricultural system is grown in dirt? The plants grown in lifeless soil are dependent on fertilizer and biocide inputs, chemicals which further destroy water quality, soil health and nutritional content.
- By stewarding soil, even in our own backyards, we can have an enormous positive impact on our health, our communities and our planet!
Alright – what can you do about it?
Learn the “dirty” tricks and “dirty” secrets of the Soil Foodweb Approach!
“I can swear by Doug’s help. It’s really given me results and my clients love what’s happening. They’re amazed. We have a bunch of homes in the Fort Lauderdale and Delray Beach areas where we can see problems we can solve with Doug’s teaching advice. You become almost like a specialist using this approach.” —Carlos Vidana, Landscaper and Owner, Birdwing Gardens, Delray Beach, Florida
In four action packed days, the Soil Doctor will take you through:
- the basics of microbiology – the “tiny” biology that is so important to bringing life and health to the soil. the secrets of making best-quality compost customized for its end use (i..e compost for gardens, compost for grasslands and compost for food forests and orchards). all about vermicomposting – composting with worms, that is!
- how to combat soil disturbances, soil compaction, plant diseases and pathogens. how to turn a small quantity of compost into a large quantity of quality compost tea & compost extracts, and designs and recipes for your very own compost tea brewer.
- Best yet – this workshop is hands-on! Not only will you learn valuable tools and techniques to turn your soil into rich and fertile ground, but you will get your hands dirty too!
- Fun hands-on exercises include building and monitoring a compost pile, assembling a compost tea brewer and brewing it up - although we won’t be siting back and enjoying a pint of this brew
For a complete course schedule – scroll to the bottom of this page.
“I’ve heard international speakers talk about the Soil Foodweb approach on three occasions. I never really clearly understood it until I heard Doug.” —Gerry Shudde, Holistic Management Cattle Rancher, Texas www.shudderanch.homestead.com
Detailed Course Outline (tentative)
- Introductions and Agenda
- Soil Microbiological case studies
- Soil: Sand, silt, clay and humus
- Soil: Microbiological soil food web
- Plant Diseases and Pathogens: It’s a numbers game
- Ecosystem Succession: Why does soil microbiology matter to our plants?
- Compost Type Introduction: thermophilic, static and vermicomposting
- Carbon: Nitrogen ratio of compost inputs; bacterial or fungal dominated compost
- How to Make Thermophilic Compost
- Practical “Get Your Hands Dirty” Stuff:
- Assessing the farm for compost high N, green and high carbon inputs
- Making Fungal and Bacterial Dominated Thermophilic Composts
- Making Static Composts
- How to make Static Compost
- Worm Power: Vermicomposting
- Reversing Ecosystem Succession: Disturbances to the soil and its consequences
- Soil Compaction: The problem of no oxygen
- Microbiological Driven Nutrient Retention in the Soil
- Microbiological Driven Nutrient Availability for Our Plants
- Actively Aerated Compost Teas and Extracts
- Tea Brewer Design Examples
- Practical “Get Your Hands Dirty” Stuff:
- Assembling a Tea Brewer
- Making Fungal Dominated Compost Tea
- Reading DO2 Levels