Agronomy Consulting

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The next Agronomy Conference Call will be held at 3 pm EST on Friday, April 7, 2017.

Conference Call Dial-in Info:
Phone Number: 1-302-202-1118
Conference code: 910076

Please add your questions to the BFA Forum for Agronomy Questions ahead of time to make sure we get to yours
(I will go over questions posted in the forum before opening it up to questions on the call).

Also, a reminder to check out the mineral depot amendment listing and prices. We finally have a well-stocked mineral depot with mineral, liquid, and biological amendments.

Quick Agronomy Note...
I don't know about you, but lately I've been receiving a lot of "helpful reminder" emails from various seed companies. Most of them are reminders that "It's time to plant your onion seeds", or "It's time to start your peppers and tomatoes". And this frankly, irks me...

You see, one of the first things I tell vegetable growers when I start working with them, is that they need to
start seedlings later... often, much much later!

It's quite baffling to me where the recommendations come from for how early to start your seeds before transplanting. I suspect that they are coming from a worst-case kind of situation, like a slow seedling torture. Perhaps there's a grower somewhere, in charge of making those recommendations, who grows their transplants in 45 degree temperatures, using only the ambient light in a closet, without providing minerals in the potting soil nor microbial inoculants, kelp, and liquid mineral drenches. Perhaps that's what most people do. But I think a smarter approach would be to optimize your conditions for healthy seedling development.

The way I do it is I cut the recommended seed start dates in half. If the recommendation is for 8-10 weeks before transplanting, I start NO SOONER than 4-5 weeks before my targeted transplant date. But I also work to ensure that my seeds go into a good quality potting soil, with rock dusts and inoculants added (at a minimum), in a setting where I can maintain appropriate temperatures (70 is absolute minimum for warm-season vegetables like tomatoes, peppers, etc) and nice bright lighting (I use high output T5 fluorescent lights, I like the single bulb Sunblaster Nanotech with the reflectors and 6500K bulbs, no more than a couple inches above the plants). This year, I started my tomatoes 3-4 weeks before planting, in decent quality commercial potting soil to which I added about 12 different rock powders in addition to humates and a couple microbial inoculants, watered in with soluble kelp. Those 3" tall seedlings were transplanted out into appropriately warm soil when they were robust, fast-growing, and not root-bound. Within 10 days, they had tripled in size and were taller and healthier than my neighbors seedlings, which were likely started 6-8 weeks before mine. My plants ended up dramatically out-producing my neighbors tomatoes, with zero pest and disease issues, and giving me fresh ripe tomatoes throughout the summer and and into November, through 3 frosts (one down to 28 degrees)! Oh yeah, and they ended up 10-15 feet tall!

So this year, I suggest focusing on transplant health and vitality. Try to create the least stressful environment for those young plants and they will reward you with amazing productivity. If you normally start seeds now, perhaps only start half, and wait to plant the other half until halfway to your expected transplant date (and of course, transplant into appropriately warm soils, not based on an arbitrary date on the calendar!). Take notes, figure out what works and what doesn't, and talk with others at local chapter meetings. If you don't talk with others, or even better, see what they do differently, you will never understand what's possible (both good, and bad).

Contact me at:

We are pleased to announce our first staff consultant, David Forster. David has been a full-time soil and farm consultant since starting Forster Soil Management 5 years ago. With a background in industrial engineering, but a passion for agriculture, he has been intensively studying soil and plant health and agronomy for over 10 years. He has worked with clients on a diverse assortment of crops on anything from a few hundred square feet to a couple thousand acres.

As the BFA consultant, he will provide primarily phone-based soil and farm consulting on a one-on-one and group basis, as well as some site visits and other activities.

David is offering reduced rate consultations to BFA members. He'll also be starting up regular BFA Agronomy Q&A Conference Calls, and reaching out to local chapter leaders to provide a call-in service for agronomy questions that come up at chapter meetings. Additional information, including times for conference calls, costs for consulting, and full contact details will be provided soon on the website at

Whether you are a previous BFA 2-day course attendee still struggling to interpret your soil tests or do a "Math for Minerals" calculation, or a biological farmer working to fine tune certain aspects of your practices, David will be a helpful resource for you!