Since coming across the concept of peppering back in the early 1970’s I have made some observations!!!
Early on we were located on a farm on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast & watched as a plague of army worms turned the green landscape to brown as they advanced eating every green blade along the way.
Now our farm was “neglected” in that we did not spray or plough to death everything that wanted to grow there… Briefly we had acquired some biodiversity!!!
Now what was the reaction of the army worms when they encountered this diversity? Well they turned back & did not eat a single blade on our farm!!
What was the “state” of the surrounding landscape (farms)?
Well they were heavily fertilized (chemical fertilizers) & heavily sprayed (herbicides & insecticides) & had little diversity. These farms were what I now call biological deserts!
Move forward to the 1990’s & where we now farm at Theodore in Central Queensland. A drought, a drought breaking rain, & another army worm plague with very similar results. You guessed it our farm was not touched (again) due to the diversity we were managing for in the landscape.
Yet another event in the 1990’s was a locust plague. I awoke one night to what I thought was a hail storm, however on investigation it turned out to be plague locusts crashing onto the iron roof as they moved through.
The next morning I went to investigate the “damage” done by the locusts & discovered a “monoculture” of Guar Beans which we were growing as a trial on some of our cropping land. Now the crop had just set a beautiful lot of seed & we anticipated a bountiful harvest. As nature would have it the locusts had snipped off every single seed head!
A monoculture & biological desert sends a signal out to insects & they come to do what nature designed them for… eat it & turn it into a soil amendment to begin a healing process.
Oh so often we “interrupt” the processes of nature with machine or spray & prevent the landscape from returning to diversity.
So what has all this to do with peppering?
My observation is that many farmers & gardeners see peppering as a silver bullet, which will fix all their weed or pest problems.
Now my view is that silver bullets do not work very effectively in “biological deserts”.
How then do we approach weeds & pests in our gardens or on our farms?
I have developed what I call my three-step process
- Apply all the biodynamic preparations (monthly for 3 months)…and I mean all! not just horn manure & horn silica, get the whole lot out there in the form of “soil activator”. In doing this we begin the “healing” of the soil. We begin to re-establish the biodiversity in the soil.
- Make a weed tea or insect tea & apply this when applying the soil activator. This will help in balancing the environment further.
- Finally make peppers with the offending weeds or critters & apply either by itself or as part of your routine spraying activities.
- So much for the three-step process, here is number four: Allow your farm or garden to acquire some biodiversity!!! Yes support as many different plants & critters as you can & many of your problem species may just turn away as we experienced with the army worms. Biodiversity is the new “untidy”.
We do not use any peppers on our farms, having chosen to let biodiversity do the work for the past forty years!
By Shane Joyce
Article courtesy of Shane Joyce.
Shane and wife Shan, run Dukes Plain Farm. Producing organic beef cattle, breeding and fattening along with a trading herd of non certified beef cattle. They were the 2012 National Carbon Cocky Award Winners.