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 Post subject: Re: Ecoganic?
PostPosted: Jul 19th, '15, 16:01 
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Talking to Tim Marshall (NASAA founder) today, he isn't impressed by ecoganic- Tim says all the things they claim they are doing that are better than organic certification standard are already being done in certified organic farms, yet ecoganic try to make out they are doing it better in some way.

He also thinks there is a chance that wicking beds could be certified organic, if the fish waste is aerated for a period before it is allowed into the WB. I'll discuss it more with him next time I see him.

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 Post subject: Re: Ecoganic?
PostPosted: Jul 19th, '15, 16:39 
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The rules/regulations say that animal waste may be used as an organic input if it is composted first.

Rereading the section on composting inclines me to believe that it would only be possible if the inspector decided to let it through. A strict interpretation of the rules would disallow wicking beds.

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 Post subject: Re: Ecoganic?
PostPosted: Jul 19th, '15, 21:48 
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I think there will be a time when AP will be able to gain organic certification. Just needs more time and a little more work on inputs and controls.

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 Post subject: Re: Ecoganic?
PostPosted: Jul 20th, '15, 06:15 
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The fish poo needs treatment before being added to the GBs, it was suggested that a day or 2 in a drum with media and aeration before application to the GBs would be enough, but that isn't practical in a normal AP system unless you have a huge volume of water to play with.
If you separate fish from vegetable growing water circuits, it becomes a lot easier to do.

I'll talk about it some more with Tim next time I see him to see exactly how it could be done.

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 Post subject: Re: Ecoganic?
PostPosted: Jul 20th, '15, 06:36 
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First of all I don't think that would work because my reading of the requirements and strictures on using animal wastes (manure) is that it has to be composted and they prescribe a number of different ways that you can do this.

Second I don't think its a good idea to chase certification by doing a bunch of stuff that adds to the environmental foot print of our produce to get a piece of paper to say that our produce is "organically certified".

There is a LOT of ideology in the organic regulations and among other things the aeration of waste slurries in a MT is unacceptable.

Mechanically turning compost heaps over and the associated usage of diesel is ok though.

We had a NASAA guy say that he could get us certification for one of our commercial systems. The basis on which he made the claim was because he could see the benefits of what we were doing. I asked how he could get us around the hydroponics ban and a few other things. I asked him to show me in the regulations the exceptions that would allow us to get certified. He said that our produce was going to be produced in a way that matched the INTENT of the regulations and even if what we were doing was proscribed he could still get us certification.

What that means is that at any time someone can have a new interpretation of the "intent" of the regulations and we would lose our certification. I believe that is what happened to the guys at Blue Farms after they had spent a fortune attempting to get their systems to fit a poorly worded, designed and ideologically driven set of regulations.

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 Post subject: Re: Ecoganic?
PostPosted: Jul 20th, '15, 07:21 
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As frustrating as it is for AP growers who are using 'organic' practices (except the soil bit which is the foundation of 'organic' farming), I can understand the bind for the organic food industry if they relax the ban on hydroponics. It could open the door to large scale hydroponic facilities which use integrated pest management and acceptable manure/compost based nutrients to be certified 'organic', which is not the intent or philosophy of 'organic' food production from living soil.

It would be very difficult to come up with organic certification criteria for AP that could not be exploited in this way.

I think you need to tell your own story about how your food is grown and why its healthy and sustainable. Its a good story that is worth being heard.

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 Post subject: Re: Ecoganic?
PostPosted: Jul 20th, '15, 07:34 
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joc wrote:
As frustrating as it is for AP growers who are using 'organic' practices (except the soil bit which is the foundation of 'organic' farming), I can understand the bind for the organic food industry if they relax the ban on hydroponics. It could open the door to large scale hydroponic facilities which use integrated pest management and acceptable manure/compost based nutrients to be certified 'organic', which is not the intent or philosophy of 'organic' food production from living soil.

It would be very difficult to come up with organic certification criteria for AP that could not be exploited in this way.

I think you need to tell your own story about how your food is grown and why its healthy and sustainable. Its a good story that is worth being heard.

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 Post subject: Re: Ecoganic?
PostPosted: Jul 20th, '15, 07:34 
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joc wrote:
I think you need to tell your own story about how your food is grown and why its healthy and sustainable. Its a good story that is worth being heard.

Exactly. :thumbright:

Another reason I'm still planning on running commercial systems with a GB component because of the complex ecosystem you get in the media. Not that the ecosystem in a raft tank is simple. In fact I believe the opposite and there is good evidence to support the presence of beneficial microorganisms that eat pathogens in RTs.

While I have been called a range of things from silly to ignornat (Ryan's "not recommended" comment was the gentlest) there are a number of hydro growers that I've been in touch with that are giving up on UV sterilisers and are instead using gravel beds and sand filters precisely for the ecosystem that develops in the filter. Their focus is more on beneficial fungi than bacteria though.

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 Post subject: Re: Ecoganic?
PostPosted: Jul 20th, '15, 13:38 
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mmmm im still not sure that there is anywhere near the amounts or variety of fungi and bacteria compared to dirt.... to the point where i dont even think worrying about that in AP is a concern at all, use wicking beds if you want something that is close to natural.

one of the reasons i never understand how people can talk about organic cert and AP in the same thread.... AP is an industrial process, not a natural one.... yea, we take advantage of nature, that isnt the part of mean.


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 Post subject: Re: Ecoganic?
PostPosted: Jul 20th, '15, 13:58 
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Yavimaya wrote:
mmmm im still not sure that there is anywhere near the amounts or variety of fungi and bacteria compared to dirt....

No one is because the research hasn't been done. We don't even really have much of an idea how much variety or diversity there is in dirt to use as a base level to compare the diversity to in AP.

Why wouldn't a mature GB be very close to "natural". Given how flogged many of our soils are I wouldn't be surprised if there wasn't greater diversity in many mature GBs compared to many soils.

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one of the reasons i never understand how people can talk about organic cert and AP in the same thread.... AP is an industrial process, not a natural one.... yea, we take advantage of nature, that isnt the part of mean.

Almost all farming is an industrial process including organic farming. The reason I can talk about organic and AP is that to me the word "organic" describes the physical way in which a food is produced. Its about the quality of the product and then range of potential contaminants that have been removed from the production process. It isn't about a whole stack of other ideological knitting that attempts to make food not just healthy for the body but by effort of the virtue imbued in the production process better for the soul as well.

I'm all for ethical farming but I think trying to include the ethical aspects of food production into the organic certification process has so far been a rather spectacular failure.

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 Post subject: Re: Ecoganic?
PostPosted: Jul 20th, '15, 14:06 
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There have been genetic studies done on gut flora that have found in first world countries diversity in peoples guts runs form about 2500 to 4000 species where as in some hunter gather societies its as high as 11000 species.

The same techniques could be used on soil to gauge a level of diversity in different soils and AP media beds.

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 Post subject: Re: Ecoganic?
PostPosted: Jul 20th, '15, 15:09 
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I have heard figures of 1 cubic CM of soil can hold a much as 10k species of bacteria.
As far as fungi, most wont stand for the always saturated conditions of AP, so even if bacteria count was there (species type will be wrong for the plants, compared to dirt) the fungi count wouldnt be there.

as for how much bacteria, there will be huge numbers of bacteria within the system, but plants in soil have a boisphere if you will around thier roots, this is filled with beneficial bacteria and fungi if the plant is healthy, as a guess, i would say this "zone" would be constantly washed away compared to how it would act in dirt. I couldnt imagine there being many plants that would have symbiosis with the bacteria or fungi in an AP system, except water plants... The bacteria are great in AP, they get everything the plants need to them, but not as directly as a plant in dirt, luckily for the plants in AP, the water brings new nutrients to them rather than the bacteria and fungi doing it for them, like happens in dirt to a certain extent.

as far as "industrial" and "organic", i see organic more along the lines of permaculture and industrial as systems that are removed from nature and are made for maximum production (ie. battery chickens, caged pigs, etc. could be classed as organic by your standard, but never by mine).

The problem for me with the organic certification is not that it allows natural things and that has failed, but that it allows input and conditions that are not natural which does nothing but create confusion, i bet you couldnt explain the organic standard within 10 words, which should be able to be done i feel if the system is worth while.

if i was a product producer i would steer clear of ALL organic / ecoganic, etc certs and simply explain on the packet that all produce is grown using permaculture standards, etc. But then i dont see anything less than permaculture as being "organic".


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 Post subject: Re: Ecoganic?
PostPosted: Jul 20th, '15, 15:34 
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Yavimaya wrote:
As far as fungi, most wont stand for the always saturated conditions of AP, so even if bacteria count was there (species type will be wrong for the plants, compared to dirt) the fungi count wouldnt be there.

Thay is not what the hydro guys I've been talking to have been saying form their research.

Quote:
as for how much bacteria, there will be huge numbers of bacteria within the system, but plants in soil have a boisphere if you will around thier roots, this is filled with beneficial bacteria and fungi if the plant is healthy, as a guess, i would say this "zone" would be constantly washed away compared to how it would act in dirt. I couldnt imagine there being many plants that would have symbiosis with the bacteria or fungi in an AP system, except water plants...

There are a huge number of assumptions in that paragraph. You may be right but I'd remind you that many plants grow in water logged conditions that would kill them in soil but they thrive in AP. Many people assumed that AP couldn't work for many plants but we have found that even in constant flood GBs most plants do just fine.

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as far as "industrial" and "organic", i see organic more along the lines of permaculture and industrial as systems that are removed from nature and are made for maximum production

I think this is such a false dichotomy. Harvester ants chop up leaves and then use them to grow a monoculture fungal crop in their "fungus farms factories underground in their nests.
I know a stack of large (ish) scale organic farmers and they don't run their farms using permaculture principles much if it at all. All the organic food you get from alsmost all shops is from industrial organic farming and almost all of that you get from farmers markets is as well.

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The problem for me with the organic certification is not that it allows natural things and that has failed, but that it allows input and conditions that are not natural which does nothing but create confusion, i bet you couldnt explain the organic standard within 10 words, which should be able to be done i feel if the system is worth while.

The organic certification rules for aquaculture are a good example of that. Not a list of things you can use or can't use but rather a list of how many times you can use anything used in standard aquaculture.

Quote:
if i was a product producer i would steer clear of ALL organic / ecoganic, etc certs and simply explain on the packet that all produce is grown using permaculture standards, etc. But then i dont see anything less than permaculture as being "organic".

Fair enough but the methods for economic permaculture haven't really been developed yet.

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 Post subject: Re: Ecoganic?
PostPosted: Jul 20th, '15, 17:01 
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not on a mcdonalds style processes level they havent been stu, but permaculture has been around for quite a while and is more a methodology than a "system" like AP.

I dont see how the harvester ants are relevant as they are following a natural process, just doing it in safety in thier burrow.

the rest are just my opinions based on what ive learned about soil from my grandparents and TV, etc.


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 Post subject: Re: Ecoganic?
PostPosted: Jul 20th, '15, 17:18 
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Yavimaya wrote:
not on a mcdonalds style processes level they havent been stu, but permaculture has been around for quite a while and is more a methodology than a "system" like AP.

Yeah I know. One of the original proponents lives down the road from me (David Holgram). The problem with permaculture is that the mosaic nature of the plantings. The methodology makes a lot of sense but how do you use apply to a serious farm and make money.

There are a bunch of people that have been influenced by the methodology (like me) and incorporate a number of methods inspired by permaculture principles but permaculturists (like David Holgram for example) wouldn't say that we we do is permaculture.

Quote:
I dont see how the harvester ants are relevant as they are following a natural process, just doing it in safety in thier burrow.

People regularly make this dichotomy between natural and human. If you are a theist I can understand that since you believe that humans and animals are separated from each other. If you are not then we are just another animal living out our lives as we have evolved to do.

I raised the example of the harvester ants because their farming techniques are completely constructed and their entire farming system is based on a monoculture. People regularly come out and say that the way we farm is "bad" and that "monocultures" are "bad" but there are parallels in the "natural" world that are strikingly similar.

Now it may be that our farming methods are bad (I believe many of them are) but its not because of some subjective reason as them being "unnatural".

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