Regenerative No-till Hemp at Mastodon Valley
Peter Allen describes how he grew a 1/2-acre of monster CBD hemp flowers with zero tillage and zero inputs.
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Mastodon Valley Farm
Hi, Peter Allen here at Mastodon Valley farm and we are down at our hemp field.
This year we grew a half acre of high CBD hemp and we’re looking at some of the plants.
Right now we are a regenerative farm so our primary purpose here is restoring ecosystems and building up soil.
The main way we do that is by grazing cattle and pigs and sheep and goats and chickens and utilizing those live stocks to help create disturbances and ecosystems and provide more niches for more plants to boost diversity, and then also rapidly build topsoil.
That’s kind of our primary purpose here and our main byproduct of that is an extremely nutrient dense meat.
We sell beef pork chicken lamb and that meat is very nutrient dense because these animals live in intact ecosystems and they eat a diversity of food grown from rehabilitated soils.
A soil that is rich in microbial life and diverse and has a lot of topsoil in it and so our primary purpose is building soil.
In the attempt to grow annual crops we had to figure out a way to do it in a way that actually builds soil.
Most of the time when you grow an annual crop whether it’s hemp or corn or tomatoes you have to till the soil in order to create substrate to plant into.
We’re a pretty anti-tillage here for our home garden, we we employ no-till techniques.
We wanted to figure out a way to do no-till hemp at scale.
We want to produce a medicine here that is superior in terms of potency and nutrient density.
When you disturb the soil you disturb the the ecology of the soil and you create plants that are a little less healthy.
If you can grow plants, annual plants, in intact soil that hasn’t been disturbed, those plants are gonna be healthier and they’re gonna be more nutrient dense.
More potent medicine and so for our hemp what we did instead of tilling is we put a bunch of hay bales out in this field, let our cows graze them.
After they’re done grazing the bales, the bales are spread out and it creates a hay pack which holds moisture.
It breaks down to create more topsoil and it suppresses any weeds that grow and so when we transplant our seedlings here we were able to do it in a way that we didn’t have to come back behind and weed.
Now, most hemp is grown in fields where they suppress weeds using plastic and so the way most hemp is grown is the land is tilled and then strips of plastic are put out and then plants are transplanted into that plastic.
We decided to try this year putting out hay instead of plastic and then planting into that; and it turned out really really well!
These are very robust plants that have full flower development and they’re really big; most of the plants are around six feet tall, some of them are even eight or nine feet tall with pretty good sized flowers on them.
We went with a variety that had thinner flowers because this is a very humid environment and we didn’t want any kind of rot issues.
We didn’t know what the weather is gonna be like in the fall and so this is an abacus cherry cross and we’re really happy with it.
When we do the no-till it allows the soil to be intact and then by putting the hay down we’re actually increasing the soil and so topsoil is being built as a byproduct of growing this hemp crop instead of instead of destroying.
When you till, it releases the carbon that was in that soil, the topsoil, the organic matter gets oxidized and goes into the atmosphere as carbon dioxide.
Most of us realize that we don’t really need much more carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, we’re doing just fine with that Okay, thanks.
We are trying to pioneer ways of growing annual crops that actually sequester carbon and build soil and and by doing it this way that hay breaks down, turns into soil, that soil, that carbon is then sequestered in the soil and our by-product here are these beautiful hemp flowers.
We are really excited about harvest today, as the equinox, and so this week and the week following we will be harvesting, drying, curing, and we will have some very high quality and high potency CBD flower available soon!
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