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E Philip Small
Works at Land Profile, Inc.
Attended University of California, Davis
Lives in Spokane, WA
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E Philip Small

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I will be leading a glean tomorrow (wednesday) evening. It involves 3 trees with about 200# (6 boxes) of delicious ripe golden plums.
Join the Spokane Edible Tree Project #gleaningmob for our Deer Park Plum Glean. WHEN: August 12th 5:45. WHERE: We will meet for the glean on the north side of the Exxon gas station, 23320 US-395, Colbert, WA 99005. This is 7 miles north Hastings Rd on Division/US-395 and 1/2 mile before (south ...
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Looking West. December 10, 2011,
Spokane, WA 99224
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The wonderful Tiffany and her fiance, our son, Ryan
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WSU's site for connecting organic grain buyers with producers. We get our organic wheat flour from Montana, looking forward to the day we can get it more locally.
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Home!
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A great beginnining.
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E Philip Small

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Cool mashhup of composting facilities in Washington state - http://www.toxipedia.org/display/FOC/Composting+In+WA+State
Washington State Composting Facilities
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The night track of the moon and planets gets so low at the summer solstice. 
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Beautiful design. And it obviously works very well. I will be sharing this clip extensively. Along with RobBob's clips, this is excellent guidance of how to approach the wicking bed opportunity.

Four variations I employ to optimize for vertical capillary flow: 1) I favor sand over gravel for bedding the drain pipe. Clean gravel doesn't wick. 2)  I forego the fabric separator between the gravel and the soil, opting instead to sleeve the drain pipe to keep the sand out of it. 3) After the sand goes in, I fill with water to the sand level and use that as a guide to level the sand layer. 4) I use sand size biochar in the soil mix to increase capillary flow capacity. The biochar allows me to use a little deeper soil, approaching 20 inches (0.5 meters), because I can count on the water wicking faster, higher. 

Going from gravel to sand, removing the fabric separator, these two changes increase the risk of anaerobic soil and water biochemistry. I think I gain more than I risk, and last year I detected no issues.

Other design variations:  -  

Covering the bottom 80% with straight sections of perforated drain pipe to maximize storage capacity, but allows for enough space between the sections for sand wicking to pull from the base level.

If bedding with sand (vs gravel), continuously sleeve the drain pipe sections, to better communicate water between the sections.

Opt for 3" vs 4" diameter drain pipe to gain another inch of soil mix depth in a fixed height container.

Plumb the horizontal overflow pipe directly into the vertical fill pipe.
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+E Philip Small Good morning, and thank you for your comments. This will be our second year with these beds - we have added two more to make a total of 6 and hoping to have as much success as we did last year. Your variations sound intriguing - if we add more beds next year, we will consider incorporating them.
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The pending Yakima dairy groundwater contamination trial in Federal court will be closely followed by every industry effecting groundwater quality. The Court established in pre-trial judgement that manure not put to beneficial use is a waste regulated under the federal Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) as improper solid waste disposal (huge! precedent. Obvious, but still huge). Lagoon leakage = improper solid waste disposal.  And: "This Court finds insufficient briefing on the issue of whether the manure excreted from the cows in the confinement pens is a solid waste. As such, this issue is reserved for trial." (p 87)

Agricultural operations have been regulated by agencies covering agriculture and the environment. Solid waste drives the response to groundwater contamination to regulation by health and safety agencies, under regulations with a lot more teeth than the environmental regulations we rely on to protect groundwater from agricultural practices.

My immediate thought is that a principle of consistency would seem to require that all fugitive nutrients lost below the root zone in an agricultural setting could trigger RCRA jurisdiction. And why not cover fugitive chemicals from fracking under RCRA?

RCRA, like the Federal Cean Water Act (CWA), accomodates citizen lawsuits. Groundwater is not covered under the CWA. Frankly, the tools are in place to avoid groundwater contamination by dairies. It should never come to this. Not withapproved  Dairy Nutrient Management Plans, perennial technical support, technical feedback loops, and social feedback loops from the Feds, the states, locally controlled conservation districts, industry associations, county extension, consultants, suppliers, bankers, milk purchasers, community and business leaders. When those tools, those feedback loops, fail to protect groundwater, it is not in my soil/groundwater experience because the tools were inadequate, but rather because the system to use those tools could be gamed, and the oversight mechanisms in place to prevent gaming were circumvented. 
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Answering my consistency question. p.91  "... the excessively high levels of manure constituents in the Dairy’s agricultural fields, based on post-harvest soil sampling by both parties, indicate that Defendants had applied manure at rates in excess of what the crop actually could or did use. Specifically, samples taken below crop root zones—that is, the soil depth where no crop roots are present to use manure constituents as fertilizer— showed very high nitrate and phosphorous levels."

"Accordingly, because Defendants manure applications were not only
untethered to DNMP’s Best Management Practices but done without regard to crop fertilization needs, presumably in an effort to discard their excess supply, the otherwise beneficial purpose of manure as fertilizer was eliminated and the manure discarded."

Fugitive nitrogen loss is OK if application conforms to accepted practices. Ignoring the prescribed application is unacceptable.
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History shows: Using Charcoal in the Garden can get you Noticed and Improve your Prospects for Advancement.

[Conversation in Progress btw a lord and a gardener, in answer to an inquiry about what led the gardener to  employ charcoal in his Squire's garden and vineyard]

 " ' Yes ; you took shelter in a mews ; what then ?' 

" ' And there were two gentlemen taking shelter too ; and they were talking to each other about charcoal.' 

" ' About charcoal ? — go on.' 

" ' And one said that it had done a deal o' good in many cases of sickness, and specially in the first stage of the cholera, and I took a note on my mind of that, because we'd had the cholera in our village the year afore. And I guessed the two gentlemen were doctors, and knew what they were talking about.' 

" ' I dare say they did ; but flowers and Vines don't have the cholera, do they ? ' 

"'No, my Lord; but they have complaints of their own; and one of the gentlemen went on to say that charcoal had a special good effect upon all vegetable life, and told a story of a vinedresser, in Germany, I think, who had made a very sickly poor vineyard one of the best in all these parts, simply by charcoal-dressings. So I naturally pricked up my ears at that, for our Vines were in so bad a way that master thought of doing away with them altogether. " Ay," said the other gentleman, " and see how a little sprinkling of charcoal will brighten up a flower-bed." ' 

" ' The rain was now over, and the gentlemen left the mews ; and I thought, " Well, but before I try the charcoal upon my plants, I best make some inquiry of them as aren't doctors, but gardeners ; " so I went to our nurseryman, who has a deal of book-learning, and I asked him if he'd ever heard of charcoal- dressing being good for Vines, and he eaid he'd read in a book that it was so, but had never tried it. He kindly lent me the book, which was translated from some forren one. And, after I had picked out of it all I could, I tried the charcoal in the way the book told me to try it ; and that's how the Grapes and the flower-beds came to please you, my Lord. It was a lucky chance that ever I heard those gentlemen talking in the mews, please your Lordship.' 

" ' Chance happens to all,' answered the peer, sententiously ; ' but to turn chance to account is the gift of few.'

" His Lordship, returning home, gazed gloomily on the hues of his vast parterres ; he visited his vineries, and scowled at the clusters ; he summoned his head gardener — a gentleman of the highest repute for science, and who never spoke of a Cowslip except by its name in Latin. To this learned personage my Lord communicated what he had heard and seen of the benignant effects of charcoal, and produced in proof a magnificent bunch of Grapes, which he bad brought from the squire's. 

"'My Lord,' said the gardener, scarcely glancing at the Grapes, ' Squire's gardener must be a poor ignorant creature to fancy he had discovered a secret in what is so very well known to every professed horticulturist. Professor Liebig, my Lord, has treated of the good effect of charcoal-dressing, to Vines especially ; and it is to be explained on these chemical principles ' — therewith the wise man entered into a profound disputation, of which his Lordship did not understand a word. 

"'Well, then,' said the peer, cutting short the harangue, ' since you know so well that charcoal-dressing is good for Vines and flowers, have you ever tried it on mine ? ' 

" ' I can't say I have, my Lord ; it did not chance to come into my head.' 

" Nay,' replied the peer, ' chance put it into your head, but thought never took it out of your head.' " Sly Lord, who, if he did not know much about horticulture, was a good judge of mankind, dismissed the man of learning ; and, with many apologies for seeking to rob his neighbour of such a treasure, asked the squire to transfer to his service the man of genius.

Journal of Horticulture and Practical Gardening: Volume 3
 - January 1, 1862
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An extra +1 for the wonderful spelling of "forren" :)
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E Philip Small

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It was great fun teaching a few simple techniques for learning more about your biochar. We used a canning jar "shake" test to seperate the lighter char from the heavier ash. Tracking shake test weights and volumes involved can give you water retention values, good for comparing biochars.  We observed that high ash bochar doesn't hold much water, that ball-milling char  (for irrigation and  slurry application) loses the macro-pore water absorption capacity, but retains water adsorption capacity, and that low temperature, incompletely pyrolized char can have very high water absorption. We used a vinegar fizz test to assess level of acid neutralizing potential (ANP). I brought old ash samples, demonstrating that ash-based ANP in biochar declines over time in storage. The red-to-yellow color char in the foreground tied observed incandecence color of char to carbon structure: amorphous > turbostratic curved layering > graphite layering. +Kelpie Wilson  brought a microcope and pH paper. Appreciation to +Josiah Hunt and +John Miedema for helping me: I learned a lot also.
 
Soil scientist Phil Small led several sessions on simple methods for testing and characterizing biochar .
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Education
  • University of California, Davis
    Soil and Water Science, 1972 - 1977
Basic Information
Gender
Male
Story
Tagline
Business: Restoring soils for clean water and healthy communities
Introduction
Educated as a soil mapper, I made the transition to agricultural consulting in 1985, and that evolved to environmental consulting in 1992. Strong biochar interest.
Work
Occupation
Environmental Soil Scientist
Employment
  • Land Profile, Inc.
    Environmental Soil Scientist, 1992 - present
  • Agrimanagement
    Irrigation Services Manager, 1985 - 1992
  • Yakama Indian Nation
    Land Classifier, 1981 - 1985
Places
Map of the places this user has livedMap of the places this user has livedMap of the places this user has lived
Currently
Spokane, WA
Previously
Miller, SD - Yakima, WA - Toledo, OH - Fargnier, France - Santa Rosa, CA
E Philip Small's +1's are the things they like, agree with, or want to recommend.
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Gaia's Garden: A Guide to Home-Scale Permaculture, 2nd Edition, Edition 2
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Spokane Food Policy Council World Food Day Event
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Spokane Food Policy Council is celebrating World Food Day October 16th by hosting a dinner and dance at the Salem Lutheran Church at 1428 W.

RHUBARB CUSTARD TART RECIPE
oldspokane.blogspot.com

Pick it red and tender. This was twice as much as needed. Toss the green parts in your compost. It took me 15 years to get this recipe out o

April Permaculture Study Group Gathering
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Spring has sprung and we are all really busy on our own projects, no doubt. So it's great that we take the time to get together, help each o

Falling Fruit: A global collaborative foraging map
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Ruth Stokes tells The Ecologist about an ingenious new online tool that encourages all of us, especially the yet-to-be-converted, to indulge

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It's surprisingly simple to find your soil's composition and see whether it's missing any ingredients. Soil scientists John Parsen tells us

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Spokane Named One Of The Best Cities Of 2013
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Pears, plums, apples, cherries, hazelnuts, raspberries.

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