Dream Weaver

Dream Weaver

Sunday, 14 April 2013

happy cows!!

I am so happy to say goodbye to the long lasting Winter finally! Just 2 days ago it was still a bit chilly with some cold drizzles, now we have a"super sonnig" (sunny) day of the year! For the cows, today is the day they have been looking forward throughout the year, to get out of the barn and freely pasture on the green grassland. From now on, they are released to the big patch of grassland just right in front of our house for 2 hours every day. I can see how excited they are, nearly dancing and chasing after one another, enjoying the spring tasted sweetie pasture.
Walk the cow, not the dog.

Walking on bare-foot embracing the  first summer day.

Big boy Thomas was too excited to see the cows
as our new neighbors!  

Being raised up in Hong Kong, a crowed compacted city which is well known for having skyscrapers and shopping malls, a city girl like me hasn't really imagine, one day I would see cows feeding on a grassland right in front of my house. And what I was dreaming of in Hong Kong, to have a backyard home garden to grow some vegetables and herbs, here I have them all :)
Sitting out having lunch with a couple of friends, doing gardening or some readings with birds chirping around. Wish I could stay here for long, but sadly I will leave here next month. Time flies here in Frick. It's so true what people say, happiness flies away for those who want it most.

We have a new colleague Corrine, she's working on a project in central India about farming systems comparison, between organic, organic dynamic, conventional and conventional with GM (genetically modified) . This long term field trials were set up by FiBL to test the effect of different farming systems on soil, yields, emission and yields. Back  in 1978, FiBL set up a "DOK Versuch" project in Switzerland in a small town nearby Basel in cooperation with the Swiss Confederation. Similar to the trial fields in India, it's for testing different farming systems and to prove to the local Swiss farmers the advantages of organic farming. Unlike the India project, it focuses not only on scientific research, but more like an inter-disciplinary project in cooperation with local farmers and ordinary people. 

Last Friday, me and Corrine drove down to the "DOK" field with a colleague Colline from the soil group, he showed us how to get soil samples for testing the bulk density of different systems. They have four crops maize, soy beans, winter wheat and grassland, in which different fertilizers are applied on regularly.  For examples, conventional fields with synthetic mineral fertilizers or slurry; organic fields with manure and slurry; biological dynamic farming tested with manure and slurry, plus some spray solutions of plants and herbs.  GHG emissions can also be tested with these crops, like 2 year rotation grassland has the lowest nitrous oxides emission.

Interestingly, crops perform the best in the bio-dynamic system. It's a school of farming, on which the organic farming principles developed or evolved from, and it has theories on planetary influences on planting calender or astronomy elements, and its spiritual scientific perspectives.

Collin is doing his PHD on system comparison.

Because of the cold weather, we did only 10 samples in  day. Thanks Collin for giving
us a in-depth site visit tour in the DOK:)

In the morning Colline tried to explain his own experiments and gave us an overview of the trials. Then we learned to take soil samples under his supervision.What we did was to drill an auger to a certain depth from the top soil and sub soil, and sample a certain amount of soil with tools. The most difficult part is the get the right among of soil inside the sampling tube, and get the soil from the right spot and depth. Since everything here is for research purposed, it is very important to get things right, if you don't want to get wrong numbers or measurements in your experiments. Different treatments, crops, climate, soil all are control factors in the experiments, for some tests like GHG fluxes measurements, farming practices like ploughing, slight-tillage or no-tillage systems, or fertilizing, weeding methods are also critical factors.

For me it is a totally interesting thing and so much to learn. Since I took a year soil management courses in Freising, I have sort of a basic background and it's good to learn something that builds on your previous experience, not just being there without knowing anything or start from the scratch.
I told myself before, that I should learn to treasure the time here in FiBL, like a sponge to absorb more ideas or learn new things from people, from experience. But on the other hand, my own thesis project seems works out slowly, still some problems to be fixed and sometimes it's not even within my ability to solve those problems, especially the coordination works. Hope things will be sorted out later.

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