The Power of Microbes and Building Living Soils

Farmers notice a very short amount of time using the power of microbes in action creating living soils First a reduction in the crusting of the soil also. The reduction of the thick crusting and clodding will allow for a quicker more uniform plant stand because once the seed has germinated the shoot is able to break through the soil surface. This helps reduce the need for replanting in most cases and has conditioned the soil.

The characteristics of the soil will begin to change as the microbial population in the soil improves. Microbes digest, degrade and disassociate many forms of salt and chemical residues in the soil. This process helps change the soil’s pH and the charge of soil particles from positive to negative freeing many nutrients which were previously tied up to soil particles, making them unavailable for plant uptake. All soil nutrients must be degraded/digested by microorganisms from either an organic or inorganic source before these nutrients become a part of the soil solution for plant use. This humus material is almost pure protein from the bodies of microbes that have died as a result of their reproduction cycles. This humus material provides about 40 to 50 pounds of pure nitrogen per acre of usable nitrogen. This nitrogen is stored in the humus fraction of the soil readily available to plants through the soil solution. The balanced soil offers free nitrogen for each 1 % of organic matter (humus) that the soil contains. At this stage, the soil begins to aggregate and the tilth of the soil is greatly improved. The soil will hold nutrient and water much better. As the soil improves so does the organic matter (humus) content of the soil. On farms where microbial products have been made a part of the fertilization program annually, three years the organic matter (humus) of applications has increased from less than 1 % to 3% or more. This increased the soil's water holding capacity by four to five times what it could hold at 1 % organic matter. Microbes digest agriculture chemical residues that have built up in the soil which may aid in causing hardpan and soil compaction.

Important Factors of Microbes at Work:

  • Microbes also work in the soil to move the pH toward neutral whether the soil is acidic or alkaline. Microbes improve Cation exchange capacity (CEC) for better movement of nutrients in the Rhizosphere (root zone).
  • Research has shown that soils with a diverse population of microbes improve the biological control of soil-borne pathogens. This is referred to as antagonistic control, which controls many plant diseases much better than the fungicides that are used to control plant pathogens such as fungus and other root diseases.
  • As organic matter in the soil increases, fertilizer input requirements are usually reduced. This depends on the type of crop that is being grown.
  • The microbes also increase the seed germination rate of crops and weeds. This means weed seeds will germinate more evenly and a better weed kill is achieved with the first. As more is learned about how plants really work, it is becoming obvious that the conventional emphasis on soil chemistry and NPK fertilizers has problems – most notably in the areas of drinking water contamination, soil degradation, disease-prone plants, and input costs.

The gulf and oceans around the United States are serious conditions due to the effects of Red Tide; this is caused by algae bloom from indiscriminate use of chemical fertilizers. But after decades of focusing exclusively on chemically-oriented growing practices, soil scientists around the world are now looking to the biological sciences to find better, cleaner, and more sustainable methods of growing both crops and ornamentals.

There are thousands upon thousands of microbial strains -Mycorrhizal fungi are only one of many in an arsenal to build great soils. These inoculates are one of the first results of USDA and university research in this very promising area. In natural soil situations, plants enjoy mutually-beneficial relationships with many other organisms, many of them microscopic, and all these biological elements – plant roots, fungi, bacteria, earthworms, and other life forms – play some role in the lives of the others. Over millions of years, mycorrhizal fungi and plants have formed a mutual dependence. The fungi are nourished by root exudation sand in return bring great amounts of soil nutrients and moisture to their host plants. Mycorrhizal inoculation can uptake 100 times or more nutrients than one without the beneficial fungi. Over 90% of all plants on Earth form symbiotic relationships with mycorrhizal fungi. These fungi increase the nutrient uptake capacity of the plant and protect it against pathogens. They are also sensitive to many toxins in chemical pesticides and inorganic fertilizers, making them a valuable indicator of overall soil health. Mycorrhizal literally means fungal root and describes a beneficial relationship between fungal microorganisms and higher plants. If you have ever enjoyed the shade of an oak, admired the beauty of an orchid, or eaten a blueberry, or mushrooms you have benefited from the hidden world of mycorrhizal fungi, a world which makes the survival of most of earth’s land plants possible.

Mycorrhizal are symbiotic relationships that form between fungi and plants. The fungi colonize the root system of a host plant, providing increased water and nutrient absorption capabilities while the plant provides the fungus with carbohydrates formed from photosynthesis. Mycorrhizae also offer the host plant increased protection against certain pathogens as they penetrate and enter the cells of a plant root. In order to maximize both organism’s abilities to thrive most plants allow, and indeed require, mycorrhizal fungi to colonize their roots. In this symbiotic and intimate relationship, the hyphae of the fungus greatly increase the surface area that is open too nutrient and water absorption, maximizing the plants access to these essential compound sand elements. In return, the plant supplies the fungus with carbohydrates for use as energy. Plants inoculated with mycorrhizal fungi have robust root systems and can be grown with significantly less chemical fertilizer and water.

Dori Bon

Grow for Change

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