Field Day on Succession Plantings, Microbial Inoculations, and Simple Field Trial Designs

posted in: Champions, Field Days | 1
Market garden at Synergia Ranch. Photo by I. Jenniches CC BY 2.0


Join us on Saturday, October 1st, 2022 from 10:00 a.m.-3:00 p.m on Synergia Ranch (located 20 miles South of Santa Fe in the Cerrillos Hills) to learn about succession plantings, multiple options for microbial inoculations, and simple field trial designs! At this field day, led by Synergia’s farm manager and Soil Health Champion Dr. Starrlight Augustine, we’ll work together to plant fall succession crops and apply beneficial microbes using a range of approaches, from Johnson-Su seed inoculations to injections of compost extracts and compost teas—all in the context of a simple field trial approach that you can adapt to evaluate practices at your farm, ranch, or garden.

Please bring:

  • Work clothes
  • Gloves
  • Sun protection
  • Closed-toe shoes
  • A water bottle

Note: Vaccination against Covid-19 is required for participation in this field day.

This workshop will be followed by a harvest and data collection workshop on Saturday, November 12, where we’ll gather data and learn how to assess the field trial results.

As always, this field day includes a free, grant-funded lunch where you’ll get the chance to make and strengthen connections with other people in the sustainable agriculture sector.

This workshop is hosted in partnership with the New Mexico Healthy Soil Working Group and the Seeding Regenerative Agriculture Project. Funding for this free event is generously provided by the Santa Fe Community Foundation and the New Mexico Foundation.


When Synergia Ranch was started in 1969, a vegetable garden was established using biodynamic farming and organic farming methods. To improve the original clay (adobe) soil, which is alkaline and low in organic matter, a program of composting of kitchen wastes, plant material and animal manure was instituted. In a few years, the garden began flourishing and the vegetable gardens helped feed the community members who were building and creating Synergia Ranch. The garden continued to be used over the decades since, also supplying fresh vegetables to the conference center kitchen. Excess vegetables are sold to restaurants and grocery stores in Santa Fe. In 2010, the vegetable farm was certified organic. Though the vegetable farm is less than half an acre, the living soil, drip irrigation and intensive farming methods make it produce abundantly.

The four and a half acre orchard is unique due to its ecological design and its location on high desert (6300 ft) of clay soil. It was specially designed to minimize water usage and produce the tastiest fruit. The orchard was operated in an organic manner from the outset and has been certified organic since 2000. To minimize water usage and give the trees a healthy soil, under each tree a compost heap three feet in diameter and three feet deep was dug. The compost materials came from the Ranch’s animals and horses at the then functioning nearby racetrack, nearly two hundred tons of horse manure went in at the start! In addition, the orchard has a drip irrigation system, both minimizing water losses to evaporation and not over watering to keep the fruit packed with flavor. Synergia Ranch fruit has come to be recognized as the some of the best tasting fruit in New Mexico.

Synergia Ranch is also working on ecological conservation since it began in 1969. Most of the 130 acres are left to recover from decades of early overgrazing in the years after the land was first homesteaded. Hundreds of trees have been planted as windbreaks and soil-holders around the Ranch to prevent continuing wind and water erosion and help create an ecological oasis. Up slope from the orchard micro-catchments were set up supporting trees to prevent soil erosion. Over the nearly forty years at Synergia Ranch, we have produced hundreds of tons of topsoil by composting animal manure, helping to replace and enrich the eroded soils that were originally here. Around the orchard and Ranch we now see a much improved ecology from what it was when we started. Native grasses and shrubs have come back strong, and the tree program has helped create a micro-climate much more favorable to plants, animals and people alike!

Call for Proposals!

Synergia Ranch is seeking proposals for projects for regenerative land, agroecology, agroforestry, and healthy food production for the community in which this farm/orchard complex could serve as a base for application.
Interested? Learn more → HERE

Starrlight Augustine in the spring garden. Vermicompost and Johnson-Su bioreactor at Synergia Ranch in 2022. Images by I.Jenniches CC-BY 2.0

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