What does it take to make it your Best Year Ever?

Go forth and Do Your Dreams!

Jana and Zeus enjoying a beautiful day.  Go forth and Do Your Dreams!

“The best year ever in terms of what?” you may ask.  Well, what’s important to you?  Feeling great–having excellent physical and mental health–is a big deal, and can help all areas of your life to be more successful and fun.  Financial success, great relationships, and achieving your dreams–like having an amazing farm or garden–all are influenced by your health.   And your farm or garden can be one of the most important factors in keeping you healthy, especially if you grow with Beyond Organic methods so your plants supply you with amazing nutrition.

Building great soil is an on-going process, taking more intensive work the first few years, but paying big dividends over time–in terms of your plants’ health and your own health.  Most soils need to have nutrients added every few months to achieve the best balance, especially items like sulfur and boron which wash out of the soil quickly.  These nutrients are critical for development of essential amino acids needed for our health.  When beginning the soil building process, it’s good to have your soil analyzed every 6 months, with a minimum of once a year.

Leaf tissue analysis can tell us what the plants are lacking.  Fortunately, custom foliar nutrition sprays can be used to help plants make great food quickly, while waiting on the soil to become well balanced.  Take care of your soil and plants, and they will take care of you so you can have the Best Year Ever!


Merry Horsey Christmas!

Jingle Bells and a reason to be Jolly!  These horses got their pasture soil tested and will have super healthy grass in the New Year.

Hope you are having a fun Holiday Season!  I’m planning to go trail riding!

Merry Christmas!

Miss Hickory Lacey, Jana, and Puakea: Christmas 2015

Miss Hickory Lacey, Jana, and Puakea: Christmas 2015

Why Should I get my Pasture Tested?

By Dr. Jana Bogs, nutritional-horticulturist and horsewoman with a Master’s degree in animal science focused on equine nutrition

Your horse, or cow, or other grazing animal depends on its pasture to supply it with life-giving nutrients. There is a long list of nutrients in forage, including carbohydrates, proteins, fats, vitamins, minerals, fiber, enzymes and various phytonutrients, such as antioxidants. Even the structured water in the plants is important for maximizing your animal’s health. Getting the right balance and forms of nutrients is key.

Animals and people are meant to get their nutrients from food sources, not from ground up rocks and synthetic vitamins in “feed supplements”and “food supplements”. Plants are meant to utilize soil nutrients and complex them into food for animals and humans. Plant-sourced nutrients are better utilized at the cellular level, whereas ground up rocks, such as calcium phosphate, can end up causing metabolic problems such as soft tissue calcification.

Your pasture soil needs to be balanced with the right amounts of the various minerals, organic matter and water needed to support a thriving, diverse community of beneficial microbial life which, in turn, make nutrients available to the plants. The plants can then grow into healthy food for your animals. If your soil contains too little or too much of certain nutrients you will have problems, resulting in poor quality food which does not support your animal’s health. For example, too much potassium can cause metabolic syndrome in horses, leading to laminitis and founder. Too little zinc can result in cracked hooves. Copper deficiency can result in loss of skin pigmentation, hoof thrush and “rain rot”.

Getting a good quality, comprehensive soil analysis including at least 12 mineral elements (preferably more), pH, cation exchange capacity, and organic matter is a great start. This will tell you what you need to put on the soil.

Having the actual pasture grass analyzed can be helpful as well. Nutrients can be sprayed on the grass to immediately improve the health of the grass.

Ideally, you should grow a variety of forages in your pasture so your animals can pick and choose what they need. In the wild, the animals would roam over a large area intuitively choosing what they need. Because we fence them in to a limited area, it’s up to us to help them achieve their needs. The love and effort we put into our pastures will return to us in the form of healthier, happier animals with fewer vet bills.

kissFor more information, check out my book, Beyond Organic…Growing for Maximum Nutrition and Flavor. It has a chapter dedicated to livestock, with an emphasis on horses. It’s available with free shipping on my website, www.BeyondOrganicConsulting.com . Aloha!

Soil and Compost Microbiology Analyses Now Available in Hawaii

With all the talk about microbes in the soil, natural farming and composting, have you ever wondered what little critters you have in your soil?  Now you can find out!  Dr. Bogs is now offering soil and compost microbiology analyses with recommendations for improving the balance of microbes.  You can also have your inoculant materials analyzed.  Sometimes, expensive and highly-touted microbial products actually have very few active microbes.

Knowing the types and amounts of microbes are present in your soil and compost can help resolve some problems you may be experiencing.  Having the right types and amounts of microbes for the type of crop you are growing can boost production while decreasing weed pressure.   How?  Microbes makes nutrients available to plants.  Some microbes can even fix nitrogen from the air!  Weeds like a bacterially-dominated soil, so getting more beneficial fungi working can decrease weeds.  Besides bacteria and fungi, protozoa and nematodes play roles in the soil.  Getting your soil’s mineral balance right, along with getting your soil’s microbial balance right, gives your crops the nutrition they need to supply the finest, most delicious food for you!

How to take Soil Samples for Microbial Analyses

You can use similar tools and methods as described in the section on this website about how to sample for soil nutrient analyses, but you only need to sample to a depth of 3 inches (7.5 cm).  Most of the same guidelines apply.  Use gloves–don’t touch the soil.  Be sure to remove organic material from the soil surface before taking samples.  Because you need only 3-inch deep cores, you can use an apple corer, if that is easier for you.  These corers can be found in kitchen supply sections of department stores.

If sampling under plants, take core samples half-way between the stem/trunk and the drip line of the leaves.  Take enough care samples to make up a volume of about one-half cup of soil.  Be careful to not expose the samples to extreme temperatures.

Microbial analyses can also be performed on compost and compost tea.  For compost, take several small samples throughout your compost pile, about 2 feet in, and combine into a composite sample.  If all of your piles are uniform, you will need to send only one composite sample.  If your piles are different, they will need to be sampled and tested individually as results can vary widely.  Compost tea will need to be sealed well in a bottle and shipped quickly, or hand delivered.

You can order these analyses here on the website (just order a soil analysis and put in a note to specify that you want a microbial analysis) or schedule a farm visit by calling 938-9888.  For those outside of Hawaii, microbiological analyses are available from an alternative laboratory.  Please email info@BeyondOrganicResearch.com for additional information.  Aloha!

Here is where we get to see the invisible world!

Here is where we get to see the invisible world!

New Book–Beyond Organic…Growing for Maximum Nutrition–Get your Free copy Now!

Jana Book Cover Revision 072713As a Thank You for your support (in many ways besides voting for me in the Transformation Contest), my gift to you is a copy of my new book–Beyond Organic…Growing for Maximum Nutrition. It’s on Amazon.com. Just click this link:

(You have the option of reading my book on a Kindle device or on your computer with download of a free app available at Amazon.)

This free book offer is only available Sunday, August 4 through Tuesday, August 6, after that it is $9.99. Feel free to share it with friends. The more people who download my book and write favorable reviews, the more my book will go up in the ratings and be easily found.

Mahalo (Thank You) for your interest and support!

Jana D. Bogs, MS, PhD

Dr. Bogs Awarded Grant to Study Natural Control of Fireweed

Toxic Fireweed Taking Over Pasture

Toxic Fireweed Taking Over Pasture

Sustainable Kohala recently offered grants for new sustainable projects in the North Kohala community on the Big Island of Hawaii.  Dr. Bogs was awarded one of the grants for her research proposal entitled, Controlling Toxic Fireweed Through Natural and Sustainable Means.

The purpose and goals of the project are to develop practical, natural and sustainable methods of control of Fireweed (Senecio madagascariensis Poiret, also known as Madagascar ragwort), a highly toxic, extremely invasive, yellow-flowering weed which is taking over pastures in North Kohala.  This weed is liver toxic and has resulted in grazing animal deaths.  While animals try to avoid eating the weed, they accidentally consume it while eating grasses intertwined with it.  Fireweed is crowding out good forage, effectively decreasing pasture grass volume.

How does this project meets the criteria of local sustainability?  Grazing animals and, hence, ranchers and other grazing animal owners are at risk from this highly invasive species which was introduced to this island in the 1980’s.  Current methods of control include spraying toxic herbicides and grazing management, neither of which has proven to be very effective or practical.  For their safety, grazing animals must be removed from pastures treated with herbicides for at least several days, creating a hardship for some livestock owners.  Herbicides are persistent in the environment, some for as long as five years.  Even after the recommended waiting period, herbicide residues may be problematic for grazing animals because they are absorbed by all plants that they contact.  Furthermore, these compounds are toxic to fish and may find their way to ground water and our nearby ocean.  Promoted by the extension service, grazing management has proven to be helpful in some situations, but creates a major hardship in that animals must be removed from the land for up to two years to effect a significant change.

Dr. Bogs’ proposed experiment is based on the work of the famous soil microbiologist, Dr. Elaine Ingham.  Dr. Ingham gave a week long course in Kapaau (North Kohala) in July 2012, which Dr. Bogs attended.  The theory is that soil conditions can be changed to favor the growth of desired plant species while discouraging the growth of weeds.  The soil treatment programs are safe for livestock, so horses will be allowed to graze continually.  The ability to treat a pasture without removing livestock is a major benefit.

Work has already begun on the project, which will run through the end of the year, so stay tuned!

KMN article on microgrant 001