Today's agventures (adventures in agriculture) takes me to Terre Blanc Estate at Soufriere Saint Lucia. I have visited before, albeit briefly. Today, it is the venue for field training for farmers in composting. This training is part of a project to promote sustainable crop production through the application of organic agricultural methods for sustainable community development. We go right on to the banana plantation where the scent of the near by Sulphur Springs pervades.
The method demonstrated was Piling Compost.
|Lucky for us, we are on a banana plantation where stems are readily available|
- Source of carbon. Banana stems were used for this demonstration.
- Source of Nitrogen. Examples include green material such as grass or leaves. Grass was used in this training
- Source of Micro Nutrients. Examples include Blood Meal, Bone Meal, Fish Meal, Feathers, Manure. In this training horse manure and chicken feathers were used.
- Source of Micro Organisms such as mites, snails, ants, earthworms and woodlice. Examples include Soil, Compost. In this training soil was used.
- Garden fork
- Wheel barrow
It was interesting to learn that local soils are lacking in phosphorus primarily because they do not occur naturally in the soil. Bone meal, feathers and fish meal are all excellent sources of phosphorus. Fresh blood is another source of this micro-nutrient. It is best used as fresh as possible. If not possible to be used the same day then it should be frozen. The application method is 1/2 part water to 1/2 part blood. Moreover, fresh blood acts as an activator, accelerating the composting process.
- Procure the materials.
- Clear the area for the compost pile.
- Lay the stems in a rectangular shape.
- Chop a layer of banana stems and lay them at the base of the heap.
- Layer on the grass along the full length and breadth of the banana stems.
- Layer on the chicken feathers along the centre of the pile.
- Layer the animal manure.
- Layer on 3 bags of dirt.
- Add another layer of chopped banana stems.
- Add another layer of grass.
- Add another layer of animal manure.
- Add on 5 bags of dirt.
|The Final Product!|
The compost pile was not drenched with water as it was a day of intermittent showers. Although the Rainy Season officially began on June 1, no significant rainfall has been recorded. It still feels like Kawenm (french creole for Dry Season).
Management of Compost:
- The pile should be watered daily
- The temperature should be checked daily or at least three times per week
- The pile should be turned
Since this pile was made with less hardy material (with banana stems instead of woody tree stems) the composting should be complete in three months. Bulkier, hardier material takes six months to a year to compost.