by Annie Deal
Photo: Mary Henry
Local farmers Adam York and Brad Hobrock of AgriBio Systems have spent the last four years working on and refining a new technique of composting to improve the quality of their soil, which will therefore improve the health of their crops considerably. In order to accomplish this, they have been working with biologicals and creating compost teas and extracts that expand the diversity of the microorganisms that reside in the soil. The introduction of these beneficial, aerobic microorganisms helps repair the damage that has been done to soil as a result of chemicals and other practices that are harmful to the health of the soil. Most current farming techniques destroy the nutrients and natural qualities of the soil, and consequently cause the resulting produce to lack nutritional value. Adding compost to the soil replenishes these depleted resources and promotes robust growth of the plants. Without a healthy foundation of soil, there cannot be healthy produce.
York and Hobrock’s composting process takes place in a facility east of Jacksonville, where there are seven 500-gallon machines that produce the tea and extract that are used on their fields. Additionally, there are two separate 10-gallon machines that are mainly used for research, but also are a service to local gardeners. Inside these machines, well-fed microbes are extracted from a compost and made into a liquid solution that is then aerated before it is finally ready to be used on the soil.
By implementing this process now, the relationship between the soil and the plants that are being grown within it will only improve over time. Alternative ways of farming, used by most farmers across the area and the country, may have very high yielding crops, but the soil and the produce that it grows are not high quality and nutritious. The health of this soil will only continue to decline if farmers do not change their practices. York and Hobrock’s composting technique aims to improve the overall biology of the soil, making it better able to drain naturally in the wetter years and conserve more moisture in the drier years, as well as create a better natural resistance to disease and insects, which have the potential to do serious damage to the crops. Not only will the soil be healthier, and the farming process naturally more efficient, the foods that everyone will be putting into their bodies will assuredly be nutritious and free of harsh, harmful chemicals that our bodies are not equipped to process. While it will take a while to return all the soil to its completely natural state, once it gets to this point, weeds will no longer grow further easing the work of the farmer.
Each year, York and Hobrock further perfect the formula of the compost tea as the soil changes, knowing that they, the soil, and ultimately consumers will all reap the benefits of this cost effective, environmentally safe process. After using the compost tea on their fields last year, York and Hobrock saw promising results, and hope to see even greater yields this year and in years to come.