Living Soils

Important Announcement: The 2015 Carbon Farming Course has been cancelled.  Please contact with any questions.  Thank you!

The Living Soils workshop with Dr. Elaine Ingham explores the soil food web, compost, and compost tea technology in-depth.  In the Soil Food Webs section of the workshop, Dr. Ingham will present on the biology and chemistry of the soil, soil food web principles and myths, the anatomy of roots and compaction, soil management for disease suppression, nutrient retention and C:N ratios, and more.  Participants gain a full picture of the soil food web including nutrient cycling and the nitrogen cycle.  The workshop will help students answer questions such as:

  • What form of nutrient do plants need?
  • How much N, P, K, Mg, S, B, and Ca do plants need?
  • What are the different soil organisms that build various types of soil structure?
  • How does the complexity of the soil health picture change during succession disturbance?
  • What are system-by-system approaches to different soil landscapes including: grasslands, row crops and orchards?
  • How do we fix the soil biologically?

Fungal Hyphae

In the Compost and Compost Tea section of the workshop, participants will how to generate the the right organisms and the right food for any plant in question. Dr. Ingham will cover in detail the principles and paramaters of creating situation-appropriate compost and compost tea, including:

  • The definition of good compost
  • Factors in determining whether soil needs compost
  • The components of good compost tea: maturity, stability, standards, aerated compost tea versus not-aerated tea, plant-based tea, and more.
  • The compost tea production process
  • Compost tea use in successful programs for grasslands, row crops, or orchards.


During this workshop, Dale Hendricks will deliver a special session on biochar. Biochar is basically charcoal that is intentionally created to be put in the soil. It is a recalcitrant form of carbon–one that resists microbial degradation once in the soil for hundreds to thousands of years.

With origins in South American Amazon’s famous Terra Preta soils, biochar is often seen as a soil amendment that helps boost soil fertility and microbiology, upgrade soil structure, and accelerate plant growth. Amid a rising tide of research, what was once mostly fuel or water filtration media suddenly has sprouted dozens of new uses in animal feeds and bedding, composting, building materials, etc. It is touted as a versatile material with many uses and is the subject of a great deal of research.


The Living Soils workshop is a proud supporter of the

United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization – International Year of Soils 2015

Intl Year Soils