From left, Martina Alder, Eric Neilson, Nicole Masters, Kellie Nichiporik, and Daryl Chubb. Photo Angela Mouly
Agroecologist and Director of Integrity Soils, Nicole Masters from New Zealand was welcomed at the Vermilion Regional Centre from November 22 – 23, to lead a Soils Masterclass.
“Soil health in Alberta has been declining overall, and we wanted to offer the opportunity to benefit Alberta’s ecosystems and increase farming profitability,” said Conservation Coordinator, Kellie Nichiporik.
The Battle River Research Group (BRRG) and the Lakeland Agricultural Research Association (LARA) organized the event and had the support of other sponsors from the County of Vermilion River, County of Minburn, Municipal District of Bonnyville, Municipal District of Wainwright, and the Government of Alberta.
Nicole Masters always had an interest in landscapes and loved farming and animals.
“People get inspired, excited, and passionate about being on the land. I am focused on enhancing natural cycles to increase their efficiencies. Farming can be fun again!” said Masters.
During the two-day class, the audience was introduced to alternative ways to reduce harmful inputs and achieve profitable, efficient, and quality food production.
"We have to change our perception of what healthy is,” said Masters.
She went on to explain that just because grass appears green and shiny, doesn’t always mean it is ideally balanced and healthy; it may be full of nitrates.
One of the suggested products for use in Alberta was seaweed as a healthy way to boost minerals in soil or as feed for animals. Sea water was suggested for application on hay before cutting to avoid mold and add nutrients.
Another suggested product was lactic acid serum, which is a mixture of milk starch and sugar that can be purchased or made my hand. This serum is being used as a human and animal probiotic, a silage inoculant (boosting quality by up to 200 percent in one week), and is used for fungus removal, and as a cleaning product. It has been shown to improve feed efficiencies and has been applied directly to the soil.
Worm Tea was another suggested soil application to buy or make oneself.
“Animals will come when they know you have good nutrition happening,” said Masters.
During a two-hour condensed session, Lakeland College students had the opportunity to meet Canadian Integrity Soil Consultant Daryl Chubb, who advised the future of the industry that heavy inputs don’t always yield a better product.
Anyone interested in taking their operation to the next level, is not afraid to take risks or trial things, are good observers, and business people are encouraged to contact Canadian Consultant Daryl Chubb. For more information, you can visit integritysoils.com.