Building Soil from Scratch Using Pigs and Cover Crops!
For the last couple years we have been experimenting with movable pig pens (pig tractors) and cover crops in order to build the soil fertility, and plant diversity of our pasture.
The results have been overwhelmingly positive! In just two years, we’ve transformed patches of our knapweed and beach sand site, into a thick lush pasture with diverse forage crops.
In the mid-summer we only put down a few species because these cover crops aren’t irrigated and few seeds can survive in dry sandy exposed soil; even with the abundance of fertilizer the pigs lay down. During these dry times we use oats, field peas, turnips, daikon radish and buckwheat. Getting into fall, as we get more rain we move into a very diverse mixture of perennial pasture grasses, wildflowers, clovers, annuals and much more. (It costs some money!)
In order to work the seeds into the soil, we simply broadcast them into the pig pens with the pigs a few days before we move the pen so that they trample and root the seeds into the ground.
Building Soil, Improving Biodiversity, Sequestering Carbon, and Making Bacon all in one elegant system! That’s Permaculture folks!