Our Primary Focus is on Soil Health
Many other factors affect the availability of nutrients already present in your soil.
LIVING CREATURES, BIG and SMALL
Earthworms act like garden tillers by mixing soil matter and dead, decaying plant material, thus increasing the amount of organic matter in the soil. In fact, earthworm castings are loaded with microbial activity (13).
When one soil component is enhanced, a cascade of effects occurs. Soil bacteria and fungi make use of this new environment created by earthworms. In many cases, an increase in soil fauna can increase nitrogen mineralization by up to 25%. Also, plant biomass (i.e., leaf and root tissue) is increased in the presence of microbes resulting in higher yields (33).
Fertilizer inputs can dramatically affect these communities. High nitrogen inputs found in many conventional production systems can reduce the abundance of soil microbes, whereas organic production systems can enhance biological communities (14). Regardless, the soil will respond to all inputs in some way, however, it is up to us to listen to its needs!
For example, nitrogen applied in acidifying compounds have direct, adverse effects on soil chemical properties (27, 35) and earthworm populations (20). The use of alternative soil amendments result in a higher quality soil and a greater plant disease suppression (6). Soils in organic production systems lose less nitrogen into water sources than conventional production systems (19).READ MORE
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3. Boehm, M. J., T. Wu, A. G. Stone, B. Kraakman, D. A. Iannotti, G. E. Wilson, L. V. Madden, and H.A.J. Hoitink. 1997. Cross-polarized magicangle spinning 13C nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopic characterization of soil organic matter relative to culturable bacterial species compostion and sustained biological control of Pythium root rot. Appl. Environ. Microbiol. 63: 162-168.
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6. Bulluck, L. R. and J. B. Ristaino. 2002. Synthetic and organic amendments affect southern blight, soil microbial communities and yield of processing tomatoes. Phytopath. 92: 181-189.
11. Facelli, J. M. and S.T.A. Pickett. 1991. Plant litter: its dynamics and effects on plant community structure. Bot. Rev. 57: 1-32.
13. Gorbenko, A., N. S. Panikov, and D. V. Zvyaginstsev. 1986. The effect of invertebrates on the growth of soil microorganisms. Mikrobiol. 55: 515-521.
14. Gunapala, N. and K. Scow. 1998. Dynamics of soil microbial biomass and activity in conventional and organic farming systems. Soil Biol. Biochem. 30: 805-816.
20. Lofs-Holmin, A. 1983. Influence of agricultural practices on earthworms (Lumbricidae). Acta Agric. Scand. 33: 225-234.
23. Magdoff, F. 1995. Soil quality and management, pp. 349-364. In M. A. Altieri (ed.) Agroecology: the science of sustainable agriculture, 2nd ed. Westview Press, Boulder, CO.
27. Patriquin, D. G., H. Blaikie, M. J. Patriquin, and C. Yang. 1993. Onfarm measurements of pH, electrical conductivity and nitrate in soil extracts for monitoring coupling and decoupling of nutrient cycles. Bio. Agric. Hort. 9: 231-272.
28. Randall, G. W., D. R. Huggins, M. P. Russelle, D. J. Fuchs, W. W. Nelson, and J. L. Anderson. 1997. Nitrate losses through subsurface tile drainage in conservation reserve program, alfalfa, and row crop systems. J. Environ. Qual. 26: 1240-1247.
33. Singh, H. 1995. Nitrogen mineralization, microbial biomass and crop yield as affected by wheat residue placement and fertilizer in a semi-arid tropical soil with minimum tillage. J. Appl. Ecol. 32: 588-595.
35. Smith, J. and J. W. Doran. 1996. Measurement and use of pH and electrical conductivity for soil quality analysis, pp. 169-185. In J. W. Doran and A. J. Jones (eds.) Methods for assessing soil quality. Soil Sci. Soc. Am. Spec. Publication #49. SSSA, Madison, WI.
39. Wander, M. W., G. L. Walter, T. M. Nissen, G. A. Bollero, S. S. Andres, and D. A. Cavanaugh-Grant. 2002. Soil quality: science and process. Agron. J. 94: 23-32.
40. Willis, H. 1983. The rest of the story–about agriculture today. pp 221. AR Editions, Inc. Madison, Wisconsin.