Our ranch is nestled in the picturesque Post Oak Savannahs of far East Williamson County. Though many the neighboring properties are dotted with a multitude of oak trees, a large portion of our land was cleared many years ago. What remains are grassy fields of what is now colloquially known as "sugar sand." In the past, the abundance of oak trees would nourish and shade the soil, while the leaves and understory trees would work together to cycle nutrients from deep below and deposit them on the soil surface, thus replenishing organic matter and building humus. This, in turn, resulted in the creation of a fertile sandy loam.
With that cycle now broken, compounded by decades of farming, we have to take dramatic steps to rebuild the soil and restore the land. Rotating livestock across the land is one tool we deploy to rebuild soil (a topic we’ll review in-depth during the farm tour), but in order to accelerate the process and kickstart vegetative growth, we bring in thousands of pounds of chicken manure each year. Two hundred thousand pounds to be specific.
In addition to a heavy dose of carbon (35%) the poultry manure has a wonderful blend of 13 essential nutrients to nourish the grasses and microbes in the soil. The added carbon helps retain water in the soil giving the microbes a place to live. Through the magic of photosynthesis, the plants convert sunlight into sugar to feed the microbes, and in exchange they make those nutrients bioavailable to the plants.
While a hundred tons of poultry manure may ruffle a few feathers among the neighbors, the scent dissipates quickly once it's been spread out onto the soil and we've had a decent rainfall. Unfortunately the clutch went out on the spreader truck so it seems it will be a few weeks before they can make it up here to spread the manure. With our farm tour just three weeks away, I'm keeping my fingers crossed that the job gets done in time. But if not, perhaps you'll have a chance to experience the aroma of organic fertilizer firsthand.
Join us for an educational farm tour, hay ride, BBQ dinner and more.
Check out our Farm Tour page on the website for updates!
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