- Vegetables: beans, greens (leafy)
- Crop Production: foliar feeding, nutrient cycling, organic fertilizers
- Education and Training: technical assistance, extension
- Natural Resources/Environment: soil stabilization
- Soil Management: composting, soil analysis, nutrient mineralization, organic matter, soil quality/health
- Sustainable Communities: local and regional food systems
Currently, we use leaves that have been cold composted for 4 years as our main soil improvement amendment. However, this requires a long wait time, heavy equipment and significant land to produce enough material. We are machine and land limited on our farm. Bokashi, may offer a more time efficient and scale appropriate way to boost soil health and crop yield, especially in our hoophouse production which is highly valuable and intensively cropped. Bokashi composting is an ancient Japanese method for producing compost from raw materials by anerobic fermentation. The use of Bokashi compost has not been extensively explored in Northwest Indiana. In this two year study we will establish an efficient method and recipe of Bokashi production and evaluate the effects of its use on the yield of vegetable crops. Bokashi compost (BC) is defined as the end product of approximately two weeks of anerobic fermentation followed by approximately two weeks of in-ground composting.
The first year of the project will involve perfecting the recipe and method of BC production and selection of which vegetable to test BC on in year two. We will use three raw ingredients- leaves, methane dairy digester solids, and kitchen scraps to produce 3 batches of BC. We will use the five gallon batch production method for the 4 week production cycle. One year of production of BC has resulted in some good compost from kitchen scraps, but we need to finalize and verify the best product with laboratory testing.
A basic compost analysis (C6 – OM,Carbon, C:N, pH, Salts,S,Ca,Mg,Na,Fe, Al, Mn,Cu,Zn, NH4) will be run on all three batches to compare and a (C10w/o) will be run from A and L Labs on the final chosen BC recipe and product. Dr. Lori Hoagland at Purdue University will provide consulting and additional analysis of the three batches of BC product including nitrogen, total C and N, labile soil organic matter pools, microbial activity, pathogen bioassays, and culture and culture independent analyses of microbes. In year two, of the first three batches, we will produce the one highest quality BC and test impact on yield on vegetable crop that would benefit most based on BC analysis, soil test results, and yield goals.
To determine the effect of BC on the yields of vegetable production, a randomized complete block design will be used as advised by Dr. Hoagland. It will include a treatment and control. BC will be applied to 15 bed feet for the summer and fall plantings in block design. Annual soil testing is done already and that information will be used as part of this project.
•Feb-March: Joan and Dan Perkins, along with Dr. Hoagland and students will review literature for known BC recipes:
•April: Select recipes based on available materials
•April-May: gather materials to make BC according to budget.
•Begin photographic record
•May, June, July Run trial BC production with 3 selected recipes
•June and July Analysis and lab testing from A and L and Dr. Hoagland’s lab.
•October: Determine best resulting recipe, run full compost analysis on final product.
Write interim SARE grant report
•April, May: produce six 5 gallon pails of BC using best recipe •May,June: Apply BC and to trial beds.
•May, June: Plant field crops.
•Evaluate results by comparing yields per bed foot of trial and control plots.
•Write final SARE grant report •Plan for future research
Project objectives from proposal:
- Benefit the environment by determining a Bokashi compost recipe that may increase soil organic matter and nutrient levels, and using a less machine intensive method for composting to save fossil fuel use and air pollution.
- Determine whether Bokashi compost may provide economic benefits by increasing yields and profits.
- Create a guide to share with other farmers.