Soil Biology is the Key to Sustainable Agriculture!

The most common question we are asked throughout all the Americas were we work in is when customers are making the transition to a regenerative farming model is where or how we begin? In today’s agriculture there are all these options of tillage tools, cover crops, dry and liquid fertilizers, and biological inoculants in the marketplace, along with the pressures of harvest and preparations for the next planting. The simplest approach works best in  post-harvest or during the winter depending on your geographical area. 

The easiest step towards regenerative farming is the start of balancing soil minerals and stimulating the soil biology are the most important steps towards successful biological farming.  Soil testing is the most successful tool to check the levels of soil minerals along understanding the cation exchange capacity your soils contain which will assist in designing a long term plan to bring all the important macro and micro nutrients into balance which will optimize your soil conditions for the microbial life to thrive.

More importantly, as farmers we have the responsibility of caring for over 5 tons of microbes that live in each hectare of soil. Underneath are feet live bacteria, protozoa, fungi, actinomycetes, earthworms  and many other organisms that need to have the food, proper shelter, and environment needed to survive which is all dependent on our practices and management which is one of the farmer’s primary job. As farmers when we start to take care of the soil biology then in return, they will take care of us by providing free nitrogen as well as many other plant available nutrients, buffering soil pH, synthesizing complex compounds for our corps.  

At Agri-Organic we offer advice and some microbial stimulants as well as soil conditioners to assist farmers in the optimization of stimulating the microbial community in their fields.  Two of our best sellers that stimulate decomposition of crop residue and microbial stimulant is our product AOMMA-Agro and Bio-Hum. These products when mixed with three gallons of molasses assist farmers in providing all the trace minerals along with the enzyme cofactors and Fulvic and Humic acids needed to perform important functions.   

When applying these products after harvest will assist in the decomposition of crop residue. The residues like stalks, leaves etc. left in a field after harvest are an often neglected source of fertility for are next planting. Studies have shown that there is on average $365.00 of fertilizer left in the residue on every hectare after a 8.5 ton rice crop etc.  A problem that is often over looked is when we as farmers leave the debris lying on the top of the soil or when we burn our crop fields which will oxidize which will cause farmers to lose valuable nutrients as well as valuable organic matter and carbon to the atmosphere.

Spraying a field after harvest with 5 gallons of AOMMA-Agro and Bio-Hum mixed with molasses will stimulate the microbial life already in the field and encourage them to break down the crop residues more quickly, and bring the nutrients from the decaying residue into the soil system.

A healthy soil biological system is a teeming jungle of microscopic life, the majority of which is helpful to the development of plants. These beneficial bacteria, fungi, and other organisms out compete the disease causing organisms and do not allow them to become established. Pathogenic organisms may be present in the soil, but their numbers are held in check by the number and intense activity of the beneficial organisms.

This tendency is crucial to restoring the health and vitality to soils that have been treated for a number of years with chemical controls. Many herbicides and fungicides are toxic to bacteria, fungi, and other organisms important to plant health. Azotobacter, which are crucial to the soil nitrogen cycle, micorrhizal fungi, that incorporate into the roots of most plants to bring them Phosphorus and other minerals, and actinomycetes, which break down organic materials that other organisms cannot, are all significantly affected by glyphosate, pyraclostrobin, and other materials. In addition, studies have shown that glyphosate   encourages the growth of pathogenic soil fungi like rhyzoctonia, phytopthora, fusarium, and pythium, which take advantage of depleted numbers of beneficial organisms to become dominant in the soil community.

In the last 2 decades, we have seen an increase in the appearance of fungal diseases caused by these fungi, such as take all in wheat, head scab in corn, and root rot and sudden death syndrome in soybeans. Reducing or eliminating the use of these chemicals and employing management tools like the use of cover crops and biological stimulants like AOMMA-Agro and Bio-Hum can begin to shift the balance of the soil microbial communities back toward balance and health.

One of the most important aspects of better soil structure is better air and water infiltration. When fields are hard and compacted, the ability of the soil to absorb and hold rainfall is severely limited, often resulting in ponding or runoff. Whenever water stands in or runs off a field, there is the possibility of losing available nutrients through asphyxiation or erosion, but more importantly, in dry years, every drop of water that runs off a field is water that is lost for the season.

Improved soil structure will also mean more oxygen will be available in the system, allowing the natural processes of the soil, like the Nitrogen cycle, to function more efficiently, which will make more nutrients available to growing crops and reduce the need for off farm inputs. When these functions are working well, the soil shows the ability to stand up against weather stress, and bounce back when field operations, like tillage or harvest, need to happen is less than optimal conditions.

Using AOMMA-Agro and Bio-Hum is a cost effective biological stimulant mixed with molasses which provides the soil life with food, water, shelter, and the micronutrients that are key to breaking down the organic matter.  Bio-Hum contains the humic, fulvic, and humin components. The humate molecule is one of the largest and most complicated in nature, and this intricate structure holds onto water, provides shelter for many kinds of soil biology, and increases the nutrient holding capacity of the soil.  Humates also have the ability to chelate, or grab onto soil minerals and make them more available to plants.

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Devon Vorderburg

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