The story started 9 years ago when Sally and I brought our little farm.
The paddock was full of onion weed which everyone knows it is a real pain to get rid of. So I contacted my local farm store thinking they will know what to do – Oh, how wrong was I!
They sold me some spray to kill the onion weed. So as a very green farmer away I went and sprayed the whole paddock. What a disaster! I killed everything except the onion weed the ground was bare all summer no protection from the hot summer sun. That’s when we decided their must be a better and safer way of farming.
So we went to our first Biodynamic Agriculture Australia Ltd workshop. We were hooked from that first day. We went home thinking, this is what it is all about ‘the earth and us working in harmony together’. I met John Priestley at this biodynamic workshop (this bloke needs to write a book of all the knowledge he has on biodynamics – I would buy the first copy). I asked John, ‘what can I do to get rid of the onion weed in my paddocks?’ He just looked at me and said, “That’s easy, just spray your paddocks with raw apple cider vinegar at 40/1”. I went home thinking it can’t be that easy surly but I did what he said and after three weeks the onion weed was looking every sick so I gave it another spray at 20/1 just for good measure and two weeks later the onion weed was gone I thought that was amazing.
My next goal was to rebuild the organic matter in the soil, so I stopped grazing the land for twelve months and mowed the new growth off three times through the growing season to build up the organic matter on the ground. I also sprayed out 500 and charcoal ground to a fine powder, 501 and sea weed concentrate every month which I still do today.
Although now I have a few more brews to play with, I also use road kill and weed brew I add them all together to cut down on compaction to the land. I have people leaving their dead chooks for me now to make my brews I get to work in the mornings and there will be boxes sitting by my office door with dead animals in them.
People are understanding biodynamics more now and see using the animals to make my brews is show respect for pets and their pets are going back to the earth where they belong but not wasted. I also scrape the dead animals off the road. My motto is all good biodynamic farmer should always carry a shovel. My latest road kill brew is made up from:
- 40%comfrey (phosphorus calcium, iron, potassium, sodium)
- 15% willow (calcium)
- 5% thistles (nitrogen, copper, silicon)
- 10% alfalfa (potash, nitrogen, phosphorus)
- 5% sorrel (calcium, phosphorus)
- 5% buttercup (cobolt)
- 5% fennel (copper, potassium, sodium, sulphur)
Then I put 2 road kill cats, 3 possums and 5 chooks topped off with 2 litres of molasses in the brew I have also found to stop the brews going smelly, I have small fish aquarium air pumps running in the brews this keeps the brews fresh.
This year we had Shane Joyce run a biodynamic preparations workshop on our farm, and he introduced me to soil activator. Now this is amazing stuff and the good thing is we are cutting back on the times we need to ride over the land. We decided to make some hay this year now we don’t like turning the land over and killing all the organisms so all I did was run the harrows over the land to save the natural pasture then I put a mixture of oats and vetch in my old super spreader which we don’t use any more and spread the seed then gave the land another light harrow to bury the seed. I gave the land two sprays of soil activator and one spray of my road kill at this stage. I am stunned how it is growing.
The same time last year the crop was lucky to be 100mm high but this year it is already around 400mm high and a deep healthy green.
I will continue spraying the soil activator out every month all year round. You will notice there is no weeds in the crop. “If you can get the soil balanced right you can control the weeds” as John Priestley told me years ago. “Simply look at the land and it will tell you what it needs”.
It’s a great feeling to stand back and look at the land and see it is happy.
This story was written by Brian Linke, who is a biodynamic gardener at Yalumba Wines in South Australia.