Lush Farms organic worm castings feed the soil

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By Jamie Fisher

Dodge County Farmers for Healthy Soil & Healthy Water (HSHW) sponsored a farm tour on July 21 at Lush Farms, LLC in Watertown, WI. More than 48 attendees learned about worm castings and soil health benefits.

Troy Hinke, Living Roots Compost Tea owner, presented on soil health and microbiology. “Feed the soil, not the plant,” Hinke shared, “Dirt is dead, soil is alive.” Conversation was focused on healthy soil biology and the benefits of creating soil structure, increasing water holding capacity, increasing air flow and attracting earthworms.

Anthony Arbucias, co-owner of Lush Farms, shared details about raising African night crawlers. Lush Farms is a producer of organic worm castings, raising worms and selling their castings. Worm castings also known as vermicasts contain important trace minerals and natural plant growth hormones not found in commercial fertilizers or manure.

“A worm will eat 1.5 times it’s body weight in a day,” Arbucias said.  “The healthiest worms eat the most and breed the most.”

Similar to all other species, worm’s habitat includes shelter, water and food. Organic matter provides shelter, water in the soil provides moisture and food comes from plants living roots.

Lush Farms is continuing to grow their business. In 2019, they started out with four bins and now have 300 bins. Each bin contains 6,600 earthworms measured by weight. Worms like it cooler, and the lights stay on 24/7. If the soil is too dry, the worms will clump together. If the soil is too wet, the worms will drown.

Lush Farms understand the importance in providing biology as soon as possible. The worm castings provide that biology and organic matter to the soil. When the worm casting add microbiology to the existing soil, this releases nutrients in the soil so the plants can absorb them, ultimately creating healthier and stronger plants.

Composting worms are primarily sold commercially to soil blenders who repackage it. And on a smaller scale, sales are available during open houses, home gardener business, and website orders at 4lushfarms.com. There are goals in the future to convert the castings into a “compost tea” spray providing an opportunity to benefit farmland acres. Lush Farms believes stronger plants make healthier food which makes healthier people.

August summer 2022 events

Aug. 11 - 11 a.m.  Building soil health after winter wheat with cover crops

DCF - Aug 11 Covers over Wheat
Field day topics:
Nick Arneson presents on residual herbicides
Kevin Shelley presents on nutrient management & species selection
Jamie Patton presents on soil pit
Land Conservation will showcase new grass waterway
Field equipment demonstrations
Lunch is provided.
Please RSVP: https://bit.ly/DCFAug11
Location: Biljean Farms
N1566 State Rd 26, Watertown, WI
Thank you, Sponsors: Byron Seeds, Dairyland Seed, Martin-Till,
P I P Seeds and State Bank of Reeseville

July summer 2022 events

6 pm - July 21  Worm Farm Tour at Lush Farms

 Worm Farm Tour at Lush Farms 

DCF - July 21 event (1)
Lush Farms is a premiere producer of 100% organic worm castings which is a fancy way of saying they raise worms and sell their poop. They love their worms and keep them very well fed and comfy in a 72-degree renovated dairy barn 365 days a year.
Come tour the farm with other HSHW members and stay for a barbeque after the tour.
Please RSVP by July 14 to https://forms.gle/SWwNXnkfPC8hQJVy7

11am-1pm - July 23 Lake Sinissippi pontoon boat rides for Dodge County Farmers

pontoon boat ride
Meet at 11 a.m. at Ox Bo Marine.
Brats and beverages provided. We will tour Lake Sinissippi by boat including the Rock River Channel.
RSVP by July 16 at: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/2022-farmer-pontoon-boat-tour
or by calling Chris Lilek at 920-912-7304 or email clilek1@yahoo.com

Message from the President

Submitted by Tony Peirick, HSHW

It’s a busy season for our group with working in the fields, hosting events, attending field days and several research projects going on.

We have changed our cover crop incentive program (CCIP) to attract new applicants that have not applied for it in the past. A new program has been added, Pay for Performance Phosphorus Reduction. This is for farmers that have participated and can do any conservation practice that improves soil health as well as get compensated. HSHW recognizes the importance of protecting soil and promoting soil health.

We are already organizing a number of field days this summer that are open to anyone interested in learning more. We also look forward to the Pontoon rides this summer.

Hope to see and meet Dodge County people this summer at our events. You can also connect with us at the Dodge County Fair in August, hope you stop in our display.

Upcoming Dodge County Farmers’ events:

Thur. July 21 – 6 pm
Topic: Worm Farm Tour at Lush Farms (@4LushFarms)
Address: N1475 County Rd M
Join us for barbeque after the tour please by RSVP by July 14.

Lush Farms is a premiere producer of 100% organic worm castings which is a fancy way of saying we raise worms and sell their poop. We love our worms and keep them very well fed and comfy in a 72-degree renovated dairy barn 365 days a year.

No-till and planting green grow success in grazing cattle

Dodge County Farmers for Healthy Soil and Water (HSHW) sponsored a field event on Monday, June 13 at Chris and Brenda Conley’s farm, High-Gem Holsteins & Normandes. More than 30 attendees walked through the fields and had an open conversation of how planting went for 2022.

The Conleys sold their tillage equipment and switched over to no-tillage and planting green five years ago. In addition to their crop acres, cattle graze on 23 acres of permanent pasture throughout the year. This spring, the cattle grazed the rye cover crop, providing three additional weeks of feed.

When Chris was making the transition to no tillage, he modified his original corn planter. Upgrades included the addition of closing wheels and row cleaners.

Greg Olson, Field Projects Director of Sand County Foundation, also presented on equipment for watching water movement through the soil. The equipment is ‘Moisture Manger coupled with their Farm Command display system’ owned and operated by Farmers Edge. There are 30 sites across the state including 15 paired sites. This equipment tracks water movement through the soil, measuring moisture and temperature at different depths from 4 to 40 inches. Past management plays a big factor in this project as it takes time to rebuild soil aggregate. Data is gathered during runoff time in March, May and June. The soil is tested in fall and spring to calibrate the equipment. The equipment at Conley’s farm is measuring more moisture below 16 inches compared to the top 16 inches.

Tony Peirick, Dodge County Farmers HSHW president, gave an update on 2022 cost-share programs open to membership and upcoming field days.

The event ended with a wagon ride checking the fields as the sun set in the rolling hills.