As I read the soil-related articles in grower and landscape magazines, I’m always struck by the chemistry advice for fertilizers. There are extremely precise details about how and when to apply synthetic petrofertilizers, how to spot NPK deficiencies, and how to conduct soil-chemistry tests. Usually, not a word about biological components in the soil. Nothing about the great amounts of nutrients that are generated and made available to plants through the activities of living soil organisms, nothing about how fertilization and irrigation can be reduced if a plant has mycorrhizae on its root system, and certainly nothing about being careful not to harm the valuable living components of soil with strong fertilizers.
In some cases, I suspect that the authors are well aware of soil biology but they are in a position of promoting synthetic fertilizers. If the nutrient-generating living organisms in soil are eliminated, there is an increased need for human-added plant food. Good marketing strategy.
For other authors, they may simply have never studied soil biology or plant physiology enough to feel knowledgeable about the subject. For them, it’s easier to give advice about the soil chemistry that they know and are confident about. Measure, add, and monitor soil chemicals – period. All the living things in soil are more easily ignored than discussed.
And yet for other writers, there is an awareness of biological importance but uncertainty about how to offer advice on exploiting living organisms. There may be passing reference to earthworms, mycorrhizal fungi, and beneficial bacteria – but little useful advice about how to encourage and protect all those organisms.
Folks, it’s not that hard. The BioOrganics inoculants contain tens of thousands of microscopic spores – the equivalent of seeds. These multi-specie spores can be easily added to seeders, dusted on transplant roots, blended into potting soils, watered into lawns, or probed down to the roots of unproductive plants. Virtually any method that places the mycorrhizal fungi “seeds” in soil will work fine.
The spores activate as soon as they sense a growing root nearby. They then attach to the root and proceed to colonize and improve the surrounding soil, including neighboring root systems. Those fortunate plants then thrive with the added nutrients and moisture that the foraging fungi deliver into the plant roots, plus the fungi protect the roots from a variety of diseases and pathogens. This is nature’s own design for plant health.
Finally, use only moderate amounts of gradual-release fertilizers. Organic fertilizers will contain not only NPK and minor elements, but also a wide range of trace elements. Otherwise, a slow-release coated synthetic (with minors) at half the recommended rate will also work well. To ensure a full spectrum of elements, trace-element volcanic minerals should be occasionally applied – perhaps every 3-5 years or so.
That’s it. Basically, get mycorrhizal spores in your soil and then fertilize gently. Periodically adding organic material and minerals will ensure that a full biological system will develop and create prime soil conditions for years to come. Using no-till or limited-till techniques will avoid disrupting the bio-life that will build up.
Now if the how-to writers will just add a few words about the importance of living soil components instead of merely article #10,206 about “complete” 10-10-10 fertilizers, I’ll feel a sense of accomplishment.
Good growing, my friends,
PS: I’m really enjoying my acre of land with beautiful mountain views here in Bear Valley Springs, CA. I have a dozen mixed fruit trees planted and beginning to take off, plus a new-ground vegetable garden on a sunny downslope below the house. A herd of gophers pre-tilled that plot for me, so digging was easy.