These courses are relevant to farmers and growers, and gardeners – and the likes of gardening/agricultural researchers and journalists. The focus of the day will be practical, considering how the soil health principles discussed apply in real life and how we translate them into practice. It will act as a good introduction for those wanting to get started on both understanding soil biology and supporting its healthy development.
We will cover the basics of The Soil Food Web, in a concise format, using a microscope to bring the various characters in our soil to life. We’ll consider their roles and how they interact, as a symbiotic community which provides many benefits including creating the vibrant material called humus, and we’ll look at how conventional agriculture is impacting our soils - how cultivation, fertilizers and chemical sprays impact soil biology and us. This will be taken to another level by illustrating how the nutritional quality of food and our own health are affected, as well as that of the wider planet.
Considering application of these principles we will compare the various composting techniques, focusing on hot/thermophilic composting and how to establish an ideal Fungi to Bacteria ratio (F:B) to maximise crop production and optimise quality. Application manner and timing will be discussed as well as how to make it go further by using compost extracts or teas.
In our current economic climate, with both growers and households coming under increased financial pressure, the issues surrounding farming are not easily solved. However some potential solutions to these problems will be presented by highlighting alternative, innovative approaches - from Ireland, UK and around the world.