From the field

Notes from our fields and seed production at Coyle Organic farm.

Aug 3 2023.

The rye was harvested but it was the worst yield I have seen in years. I notice too that other fields of rye clse by where also very poor. The year has been wet and hot and there are lots of weeds everywhere. Certainly a very unusual year.

August 4 2023.

This has been a very unusual season. We had about 3 weeks with no rain then we got too much rain ever since. The sunflowers have seemed to do very well but still not with the heads yet.

I combined the rye and spelt and both did very poorly this year and that seems to be also true with other farms close by for those crops.

There has been a tremendous number of weeds coming up all over, and many weeds that I had though where no longer in the fields.

In the area I planted oats and clovers the weeds came up and I had to re-plow and replant the field they where so bad. In one area I plowed many times to discourage the weeds but they still persisted.

July 25 2023. I had some sunflowers that did not get cleaned from last season sunflowers so today I cleaned them. Worked very well.

July 24 2023. I over planted the horse pasture which was sunflowers last season with a hay mixture with 25 % alfalfa . The coulter cart makes an opening so the seed drill can plant in some seeds. Lets hope this works... but no hurry as I hope it will germinate in the late fall and spring.

April 15 2023. Jim and chief are plowing a field ready to plant oats which will be terminated in the fall to plant rye for crimping and planting sunflowers.

June 9 2022 Planted the corn and here I am tine weeding the field just after palnting to keep the weeds down.

June 10 2022, The red clover did very well so I let the horses eat it. My idea is to have the horses eat the red clover and later in the fall combine it for seed.

May 17 2022 The horses and Mat have been busy plowing up the winter kill oats and radishes. I put the oats in just too late last year so not enough residue so I plowed it. Marvellous how well the horses performed over a few days.

We have been working in the early morning as the days have been too hot.

May 17 2022 Got a load of mushroom compost which I have been spreading on the pastures

April 29 2022. Moved the row of compost over with the use of the manure spreader and the Front end loader.

April 29 2022 The camelina planted back in February is doing well.

April 29 2022. The red clover hs done very well in my last seasons cultivated sunflowers.

April 17 2022 . One can see the 1.5 hp diesel motor that runs the clipper seed cleaner. Quite a set up and it took me about 2 years to get this clipper cleaner restored. There are still a few things I would like to change which will get done.

April 17 2022. Finally got the Clipper seed cleaner working well. Here I am cleaning sunflower seeds that I harvested last fall. The Cleaner is run by a small diesel engine which took some time to get all the correct sizes of pulleys to make it run well.

April 16 2022. I was just digging up a few weeds in the rye patch when I discovered many worms! When I first started farming here there were no worms.

April 16 2022 . This is the sunflowers and corn planted without anything else.

This is the recently planted corn and sunflowers using the agsol 13 amino acid fluid. The added amino acids do seem to be better.

April 15 2022. Looking down the last season cultivated sunflower field showing the red clover coming on strong shown below closeup.

April 15 2022. The spelt field beside the horse pasture. The spelt is coming along well. And this is the first day the horses are on the old crimped rye and sunflowers field. I had let them out just for a couple of hours each day before this.

April 15 2022. Spreading mushroom compost on the garden beds using a manure spreader which worked very well.

April 15 2022. Yes! That is rehizosheaths formed on the rye roots. This shows that there is indeed some microbes doing their work. I was just weeding some of the beds when I noticed the wonderful coating of the roots by the microbes.

April 8 2022 Yesterday I broadcast seeds over the disc'd corn stalks. Today I packed the seeds. Ginger and Chief doing the work.

April 8 2022 and the camelina is doing very well.

April 7 2022. Dorothee dug up the potatoes that she buried in the garden. This is a very good way to have fresh potatoes in the spring. She had to bury them quite deeply to not have them frozen.

April 5 2022. Thought it was dry enough to disc the bush hogged corn stalks. Doing just a surface disc and will then spread some clover and grasses. In a couple of months I will plant oats once I have sickle mowed the weeds.

April 3 2022. I have long wanted to do more composting but never figured out a way to do it until lately. Just fill the manure spreader with material and then let it mix the contents to make windrows.

Marc 29 2022. While I was looking at the camelina I took a photos of the clover coming up in the last years sunflower field. In the last cultivation I spread some red clover. Since last years crop of sunflowers was done without the crimped rye the weeds were severe.

This season I am not going to plow as that does bring up more weeds and adversely affects the microbes. I will wait until the weeds start to grow then clip them with the horses pulling the sickle mower. In late May I hope to plant oats and get a crop too!

March 29 2022 after two very co0ld days at about minus 7 degrees Celsius. Still looking very good!

March 25 2022 The camelina is doing just fine.. lets hope there is no minus 15 degree Celsius in the next few weeks.

March 25 2022 more camelina showing.

Clover in the previous cultivated sunflower field. I've decided to not do any plowing but will sprinkle more seeds over then when the weeds get going I will clip in about a month say second week in may then plant oats as an experiment. I will be able to separate the oats seeds from any weed seeds..

Mar 25 2022

Yes!! The camelina is germinating. It is very small but certainly visible March 20 2022

Last years crimped rye that grew sunflowers. The red clover is showing through and what a wonderful lot of carbon that will take time to incorporate in the soil by the microbes .March 2022 .

Marc 20 2022 . The spelt is coming along just fine.

March 20 2022. The rye is doing just fine too. We will be crimping the rye in late may and Planting sunflowers and a trial of corn.

March 5 2022. As I was bush hogging the corn stalks Dorothee was picking the last of the corn for the animals and our corn meal.

March 5 2022. The weather was warm but the ground still frozen so the tractor was able to bush hog the corn stocks giving a nice mulch for the microbes,

March 3 2022, got the sunflowers put in the bin. Was very lucky that the ground was still frozen and warm enough to work.

Feb 26 2022. I decided to spread my camelina on this field that I prepared with the horses last fall.

Feb 26 2022. Just starting out across the field with the hand spreader.

Feb 26 2022. If one looks closely you can see little specks of camelina seed on the snow.

The corn field on Jan 15 2022. We could not combine the corn as there was some mould on the cobs so we decided to hand pick which is on going. I will bush hog the stalks and let the red clover take over and be a pasture without tilling..

The newly planted multi species pasture getting going for the spring. To help with the weeds I will sickle mow it with the horses in the spring. Jan 15 2022

On the left is the winter kill field of oats and Radish. The recent very cold weather has killed it and I will plant directly into the residue in the spring. Jan 15 2022

Jan 15 2022. The green field on he left is our next crop of spelt. In the foreground is our last seasons sunflowers which is showing a lot of clover which will become a pasture.

Dorothee heading out to the woods to cut firewood. Dec 29 , 2021

Just installed the new to us grain bin. Dec 26 2021.

This was quite a feat. I drove 2 hours at 35 kph to pick it up on my hay wagon and came back 2 hours. Then there was the problem of setting it up on some cement blocks. Luckily the forklift was able to do it, but it was a real headache for quite some time as I thought things through. Hopefully I'll get my bumper crop of oats in it on a dry sunny day.

This is the rebuilt clipper being tested. Unfortunately one of the bearings was giving me troubles so I decided to replace it. Needs a few adjustments but it will save me a lot of time using this cleaner. So back to the workshop.

Dec 21, 2021

Some of the trash from the sunflower cleaning.

Cleaning sunflowers DEC 1 2021. This is using the small cleaner and it is very slow. Have been working on the 1900 vintage clipper and it should be a lot faster and better.

This is the setup for cleaning camelina. Oct 29 2021

Oct 25 2021, Mat Plowing with Jim and chief.

Using the gravity table to separate out the mustard seed from the camelina.

This is the dehulling set up for the spelt.

  1. Sept 10 2021: Plowing for the spelt field.

Sept 10 2021: Laying out the field garden with Mushroom compost. We used the manure spreader to put down the compost in long lines.

Sept 10 2021: Using the coulter cart and seed drill to over seed the pasture.

Early August in the crimped rye/ sunflowers. Very pleased with the growing white clover in the crimped rye. Sunflowers look good too!

I planted a field of buckwheat and am trying to crimp it before planting some rye and clover. Aug 21 2021

Finally July 26 2021 we have some emerging sunflowers in the north field!

Mat with Jim. Chief and Duke discing a field ready for a cover crop of buckwheat.

If you look closely the keeton seed firmer is just below the crimped rye. May 30 2021

Just testing the depth that the planter will need to go through the crimped rye.

May 30 2021. Decided to get the horses out and do the last minute discing to discourage the weeds before planting the corn. I purchased a rolling basket which I welded up and attached to the horse drawn disk which works well.

I would rather do more planting with the no till drill but that's for next year and better planning on my part.

May 28 2021

Rained today but just not enough. I'm planning on planting the crimped rye So I added some heavy weights to the planter.

May 27 2021. Crimped the rye. It did look like a very good stand but there were some thin spots. Will plant the sunflowers in a couple of days after the rain.

May 25 2021

The sunflowers are planted using plan B as the winter kill did not leave enough residue. Yes I had to plow, pack and disc which is not the thing I like to do. It was the first time I tried the new to me Kinze planter. It is normally used in a no till situation but such is life. Next week we crimp the rye and try the new planter in the crimped rye.

May 9 2021

Since “plan A “ winter kill residue did not work well I had to resort to plan B which was to plow the field. This left a very bumpy field because of all the roots which I then packed with the crowfoot packer pulled by the horses. Once that was somewhat leveled I then disc'd it lightly with the horse drawn disc with  rolling basket. When the horse gave up I continued with the tractor disc and rolling packer. Then I followed that with the horse drawn tyne weeder and then on certain fields like my oats I used an aggressive rotary hoe on the tractor.

I feel I messed up on the oats. They just seems to be very slow germinating in this cold weather so I delayed using the tyne weeder and rotary hoe until the weeds got established. Now some hand weeding. What a mistake as now I will have to deal with the weeds and their seeds. In my other pasture fields I mow them constantly to reduce any flowering weeds which helps.

I'm learning a lot in the greenhouse. Yes the sunflowers are growing up through the mature rye! Even a few crimson clover plants are coming through the rye in the greenhouse too. Rye really only discourages the very small seeds from germinating and any large seeds seem to do fine. I was only able to purchase a coated sunflower seed that I wanted to try and to my delight I just washed them in water and the coating came now I have un-coated seeds to try in a field and a separate field with my own seeds I saved last year .

The warmth of the greenhouse really makes a difference to how well things grow!

I purchased the book by Jeff Moyer and have found it a great help to working with the roller crimper.

April 29 2021

I planted sunflowers in a pot of rye that I had dug up from the field where I intend to crimp the rye. The rye field looks terrific and hopefully this s a good sign that the sunflowers may germinate in the crimped rye. I could also consider planting green as well then crimping. I must also watch to see if there is enough nutrients for the sunflowers to mature.

The other field for the sunflowers that was supposed to have a good amount of residue from winter kills did not work out very well so I moved to plan B and I had to plow it. Since the field was full of roots the result was very bumpy and rough which I then rolled with the crowfoot packer. That went quite well except it was a little too heavy for the horses and I finished it with the tractor. Now that I got it smoothed somewhat I then did a very light discing. My plan B is getting more complicated and I will have to cultivate the sunflowers to keep the weeds down. On the last cultivation I will spread red clover.

In an other area I harvested oats last year and did a no till with my seed drill for pasture and it seemed to work quite well on my sandy soil.

I thought I would try to get some new sunflower seeds but nusun has purchased the other sources of sunflower seed and I could only get a very small size seed coated with a fungicide which does not make me happy.I have been developing my own seed which has been fairly successful.

I was fooled by the warm weather in march but I did get my oat multi mixture planted and it is up and is not affected by the frost. I also did a multi specie pasture mix  which has been a little slow but it is showing.

April 8 2021

I have a post hole auger which I am able to loan out to any one who needs one.

Got my oats planted. Along with the oats I am also planted clovers, flax and peas. My new pastures are now planted with multi species.

The horses are preparing the sunflower fields by eating the cover crop, leaving manure and urine  then lightly tilling the soil with their hooves.

Now I need rain.


April 8 2021

Got my oats planted. Along with the oats I am also planted clovers, flax

and peas. My new pastures are now planted with multi species.…

March 9 2021

I found my various sizes of plastic bottles for dispersing the Growo vericompost extract so whomever wants to try some please let me know the quantity. I suggest a 1-2 liter amount.

If there is not much response I will be generous to those who want to try it

If there is not much response I will be generous to those who want to…

March 9 2021

recent Message from Andrei:

Firstly about the seeds: spray them with solution 24-48 hours before sowing-not for 24 hours. Just so there are wet.  Enough time to dry. In big farms or seed distribution they use fumigator(or something like that and our product can be added to fungicides).

Now for amount. Yes it's 100 l of solution per acre per application.
For your soil it could be beneficial to spray soil before planting in addition ti 2 applications during growing period.


March 8 2021

Seed soaking coverage is 1:30 and corn with a liquid fertilizer set up is 1:100

I'll get more infor

March 7 2021

Price of the Growo vericompost extract

The price of the product is 19.50 per litre. But for the moment I have a 10 liters which I am very glad to disperse amounts those interested at no cost.

March 7 2021

While I am very skeptical of most products I am willing to give some a try. This is one of them

I have a 10 liter jug of liquid  vermi compost extract that I want to share. Andrei Fravtchenko is the owner and operator of GROWO. He visited with me on saturday and left me a jug which I would like to share with anyone who is interested. His phone is 226 448 6999 london area.He may not be able to answer all the questions but he can find the answers.

The extract is made in Latvia and he would like to bring the process here.

He says that applying it to seeds by soaking for 24 hours has the best response but you can also try on corn at 1:100

Attached is the Lab report from Latvia where the process is done. It is very interesting to hear from some of the Russian countries that are also working on soil health.

Some of the literature on this product:

The extract has bio fungicidal and growth stimulating properties, that is, the ability to provide plants with biological protection and accelerate growth and development. This is possible due to a complex of micro-organisms that are in the vermicompost, but they appeared there from the intestine of the worm. About 90 species of different soil organisms are found in the products after worm processing. It is due to nitrogen fixing, phosphate and potassium dissolving micro-organisms, rhizobacteria, cellulosolytic and mycorrhizal arbuscular fungi, which from the vermicompost go into the extract and this effect is possible.

Stimulates biological processes
Provides the plant with food throughout the growing season
Increases the sprouting and energy of seed germination
Enhances the growth and development of plants
Increases immunity and adaptogenic properties
Promotes anti-stress resistance to environmental conditions
Reduces maturation for 10-14 days
Promotes yield increase up to 30-40%
Increases the content of vitamins, mono- and polysaccharides
Improves the quality of fruit, nutritional value
Prolonged storage time
Inhibits the development of pathogenic microflora
Has a protective function against insect pests

Marc 6 2021

My thoughts on soil health

Hi all, been thinking how to weigh in on this but Ken did a real good job, especially the ideas from opposite ends of spectrum, and needing both

On 2021-03-03 7:01 p.m., Ken and Martha Laing wrote:

Hi Mat and everyone 

Unfortunately one side says you can ignore the chemistry and the biology will do everything and the other side says you can ignore the biology and play with the chemistry and everything will be fine.

Like in many things the truth is probably somewhere in between these 2 extremes. There are 3  equally important aspects of soil - the physical, the chemical and the biological.  They are very connected and interdependent on each other. The physical aspect is very much about the air, pore space, soil aggregates, water movement and retention. Tillage and compaction are 2 big factors in the degrading of the physical aspect. The biology is dependent on proper aeration, water and  housing - benefits all provided by good soil aggregation. Good aggregation is the result of good biology. Growing plants provide the carbon materials biology needs to multiply and reproduce and in turn the biology helps supply the plants with nutrients, water and disease control. The biology helps glue soil particles together to form aggregates. That is sort of back where we started. Soils differ in their inherent amounts of different plant nutrients depending on their texture and parent materials from which they formed. Yes, any  soil will support a population of plants. The rub comes when we want to cultivate these soils and grow crops that are not naturally suited to that soil. Then it is important to measure [soil test] and find out what may be lacking for the particular crop we want to grow. That requires that we understand the chemistry in the soil/plant and amend if necessary. Maybe someday in the not too distant future we will be able to say this nutrient is not available to the plant and we need this microbe to make it available but we do not have that science yet.

Heard my first Redwing Black bird today.

Ken Laing

March 4 2021

The address below takes you to a webinar talking about the haney test and an excellent talk by Sarah Hargreaves of ontario to the Practical farmers of Iowa.

In the presentation there is talk of using less fertilizer. I found that Sarahs talk helped me understand more about the complexity of the soil microbes. Sarah mentions that the measurement of slow growing microbes may be a most important indicator of soil health. And the PLFA (fatty acid)  method measurement may be one of the best.

But even with all of this I still need to find out what is best for my soils, my climate and my abilities. Seems compost is about the best thing I can do.

March 1 2021

My understanding of soil health by Mat

The chemistry of the soil does not matter as much as the microbial life in it.

Soil microbial life varies greatly by temperature, moisture and the needs of the surrounding plants.

The microbial life in the soil varies accord to the needs of the plant as the plant will signal and send out stimulants to encourage certain nutrition needs of the plant. This being so the co2 measurement of microbial action may vary.

Perhaps our old way of measuring the chemical analysis is not longer as valid.

The haney test advises against too much fertilizer into the soil which plugs our waterways

We need to know our soils well to avoid too much fertilizer inputs.

Electrical conductivity in  sandy soil is not so good.

Energy is going to be the most expensive item in the near future so those heavily dependent on conventional herbicides and insecticides may have to investigate  organic farming.

Sarah Hargreaves has an excellent talk on microbes in the soil and measuring them. I'll pass that along once I talk with her.

Sarah mentions that the measurement of slow growing microbes may be a most important indicator of soil health. And the PLFA (fatty acid)  method measurement may be one of the best.