- June 9, 2010 at 6:50 am #41706
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about diminishing returns, as in a farmer plants a crop and then harvests the seeds, fruit, etc, and returns the straw to the field. Just based in general knowledge, I’d say that when a seed naturally falls back to the ground, the energy (at least some of it) contained within will go into the seed’s growth and not so much to replenish what it took from the soil. The straw has much less nutritional value but greater volume, and if the crop was interseeded with a nitrogen fixer left unharvested and some supplemental manure it might make up for the seed loss.
Another big urge I have is to try surface germination, but I don’t have land or anything to try it. If conditions on the surface below a much cover were conducive to germination, would it happen?
Also for loggers: I learned some methods and materials in construction a few years ago and learned about various laminates, particle boards and beams, all an attempt to save wood. The way house size is going and the number of houses built, of course we have to do this, but something about chipping up wood and then using glue to hold it all together is not all that appealing. This isn’t really a question, but I say if we scale house size down (currently I think it’s over 2,500sf) we could use actual wood and maybe some plywood sheathing for its strength.
So am I an impractical kid or is there some truth?June 12, 2010 at 1:56 am #60486
Ok, I’ll expound a little more: There’s a fall crop of rye flowering, I suppose it’s called, about the time that someone would plant wheat or corn, but you don’t have some expensive no till piece, so it’s broadcast into a standing crop, which I’ve read is done out west. In this crop mix is the main crop and prairie clover. Then the cover crop is crushed with a board or a crop crimper, increasing seed/soil contact, creating a mat overtop the seed to hold in some moisture.
I observed over the winter the remarkable alignment of downed grasses in abandoned field by my place; most point the same direction, and I suppose provide some insulation for the seeds that fell off in the fall when the grass still stood. The spring planting would resolve the death of seeds that couldn’t overwinter.
This is all theoretical….June 13, 2010 at 12:31 am #60487
Nobody’s posting…but I’ll add some more anyway: Aside from the plant inside of the seed, there is the endosperm and the seed coat. Even if part of the endosperm and all of the seed coat returned to the soil, you’d still come up with a “net loss” because in this perfect system people speak of all of that seed would return to the soil, but my guess is it takes more than it gives. This is where manures, worms, and insects would come in as amendments along with any composts thrown in.
Cases for and against tillage regarding moisture content, tilth, are out there. Hard to tell if there’s a better or worse option.June 13, 2010 at 2:07 am #60485Joshua KingsleyParticipant
I don’t know if you would have a “net loss” as the plant growth converts light and CO2 into sugars and starches that fix carbon into a matrix. When this is crushed down to seed in another crop you are essentially fixing carbon and other organic compounds into the soil. This was the idea of Fallow years in a crop rotation. The soil would naturally sprout form its own seed bank those “weeds” that would “fix ” any soil imbalances. Danilions and burdock break up compaction. Nettles are one of the plants that fix calcium problems. Ect…
I am no expert but if the soil and mother earth were going to be in diminishing returns than why are we still here???
JoshuaJune 13, 2010 at 2:08 am #60488dlskidmoreParticipant
@Stable-Man 18910 wrote:
If conditions on the surface below a much cover were conducive to germination, would it happen?
Generally part of the purpose of mulch is to be thick enough that the freshly germinated seed spends all it’s stored energy before it can start harvesting light. Germination occurs under there all the time. In certain seasons you can pull back the mulch and see weed seedlings growing under there.
Germination can occur most anywhere. Some childhood project we did involved corn seed between two wet paper towels in a ziplock bag. You could watch the germination process this way. I repeated the experiment in college to test if the brand of popcorn we had around was still viable seed (it was.)
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