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Do beans really improve the soil?


humdrum

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humdrum

I was always told that beans added fertility to the soil, but having done a bit of reading, it appears that legumes like a rich, well dug soil.

Which means that you need to enrich the soil to start with.

Seems a bit arse about face if you ask me.

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Beans capture nitrogen, which goes into the soil as nitrogen compounds. I'm not much of a gardener.

Edited by MrPin
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humdrum
Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, MrPin said:

Beans capture nitrogen, which goes into the soil as nitrogen compounds. I'm not much of a gardener.

I agree with that, but I reckon that by the time you have turned the bed and added the compost, you have already added plenty of nitrogen.

I have a farmer friend in Wales and every year he ploughs the fields and  sows field beans. I once asked him if he noticed much increase in the fertility of the soil and he said not a lot.

Then why did he do it I asked?

And he said because he had always done it.

:)

 

 

Edited by humdrum
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2 hours ago, humdrum said:

I agree with that, but I reckon that by the time you have turned the bed and added the compost, you have already added plenty of nitrogen.

I have a farmer friend in Wales and every year he ploughs the fields and  sows field beans. I once asked him if he noticed much increase in the fertility of the soil and he said not a lot.

Then why did he do it I asked?

And he said because he had always done it.

:)

 

 

Did he have a marker against which to measure though, did he end up putting less nitrogen on the ground for his main crop to the same output than would otherwise be the case. Think it was soya beans that one farmers was sowing, after a few weeks he checked the plant growth, pulling up the roots you could seen the nodules on the plant where nitrogen is fixed. All sorts of arguments about benefits of in ground plant based nitrogen addition and mechanically added. Anhydrous was a new one on me, example in canada where the framers drag along a train of units, one the seeder, one the seed carrier and this huge ammonia tank with jets that let it into the ground as the seed is planted - have to be careful with it as off the tractor you can effectively gas yourself.

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humdrum
17 minutes ago, onlyme said:

Did he have a marker against which to measure though, did he end up putting less nitrogen on the ground for his main crop to the same output than would otherwise be the case. Think it was soya beans that one farmers was sowing, after a few weeks he checked the plant growth, pulling up the roots you could seen the nodules on the plant where nitrogen is fixed. All sorts of arguments about benefits of in ground plant based nitrogen addition and mechanically added. Anhydrous was a new one on me, example in canada where the framers drag along a train of units, one the seeder, one the seed carrier and this huge ammonia tank with jets that let it into the ground as the seed is planted - have to be careful with it as off the tractor you can effectively gas yourself.

Probably not.

He was a bit cynical and inclined to say that what he really grew were sudsidies and that his main crop was holiday lettings.

Still, I need the exercise and have some compost so I might as well do it according to Hoyle.  After all, I have just lifted the last of the first earlies and realised why potatoes should be chitted :)

 

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humdrum
1 hour ago, jm51 said:

I have a German friend who grew up in the DDR. Her dad wanted to improve his land and planted industrial hemp.

I did something similar when I was younger. Unfortunately, although I knew plenty of smack heads, most of them were skint. So drug baron wise, it was all a bit of a dud

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humdrum
On 10/07/2022 at 18:10, sarahbell said:

Clover.

 

True enough, but you still have to dig the bloody stuff in.

Going off at a bit of a tangent here, but there seems to be a tendency in life in general and gardening in particular, to equate breaking your arse with being virtue.

I feel a deep thought bubbling through my sub whatever it is, but I need two or three more pots of coffee for it to reach the surface

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sarahbell
2 hours ago, humdrum said:

True enough, but you still have to dig the bloody stuff in.

Going off at a bit of a tangent here, but there seems to be a tendency in life in general and gardening in particular, to equate breaking your arse with being virtue.

I feel a deep thought bubbling through my sub whatever it is, but I need two or three more pots of coffee for it to reach the surface

Ah new farming methods suggest slitting the soil and putting the seeds in.
Keeping the cover on the top keeps carbon captures AND helps protect the soil from erosion by wind/rain/sun

Farmers have discovered simple things like now ploughing down hills means the soil washes away less.

(I remember the article about asparagus fields)

 

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Pythagoras (he of right angled triangles) created a religion specifically so that he could declare beans as impure and thus he wouldn't have to eat them.

It was popular for a thousand years amongst those who didn't like beans.

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I found myself Googling this very same thing recently. Turns out what people mean by "soil fixing" is actually "nitrogen fixing". Beans / legumes do require a rich soil but they leave it with more nitrogen than when they started. This is because - and I don't fully understand it as I'm not a biologist - from what I read, the roots of legumes attract certain bacteria that breath in nitrogen from the air, then the bacteria die, and they therefore deposit extra nitrogen into the soil in the form of their rotting bacteria bodies. Or something like that.

https://www.thespruce.com/nitrogen-fixing-plants-2131092

 

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SpectrumFX

Before we had the Haber process you'd have to use Legumes as part of the crop rotation to replenish the Nitrogen in the soil.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crop_rotation

I'm not sure how economically viable the Haber process will be once the oil starts to run out, so crop rotation will probably be making  a come back soon. 

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humdrum
16 hours ago, dgul said:

Pythagoras (he of right angled triangles) created a religion specifically so that he could declare beans as impure and thus he wouldn't have to eat them.

It was popular for a thousand years amongst those who didn't like beans.

Pythagoras believed that beans contained the souls of the dead and that they were expelled when you broke wind.  As a result folk were inclined to say, Christ mate, smells like something has crawled up your arse and died.

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humdrum
Posted (edited)
13 hours ago, SpectrumFX said:

Before we had the Haber process you'd have to use Legumes as part of the crop rotation to replenish the Nitrogen in the soil.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crop_rotation

I'm not sure how economically viable the Haber process will be once the oil starts to run out, so crop rotation will probably be making  a come back soon. 

I don't think that the problem will be so much the lack of oil to manufacture ammonia, as the shortage of fuel for the tractors.

Ploughing  with horses and cattle is all very well when it is Ruth Goodman, Alex Langlands and Peter Ginn in tales of the Green Valley, but it is bloody inefficient when you realise that a horse will eat its own weight every month.

The solution might be to harness a few Eco Warriors to the plough. The problem is that while they don't eat much, it is a bugger to get any work out of them.

 

Edited by humdrum
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