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Making Good Soil into Great Soil

One of the most valuable uses for mycorrhizal inoculants is to allow plants to grow in inhospitable soil - restoration of mine tailings, freeway landscape plantings, bad pH situations, no-topsoil urban lawn areas, etc. In such conditions, a plant with mycorrhizal fungi on its root system can thrive in soil that would usually mean death for plants on their own. (In the worst situations, the fungi may have to be established on the roots in a nursery - being given a head start before being set out.)

Also, it seems likely that giving farmers the means to produce good yields from poor and marginal soils is something that will become tremendously important in the future, as world populations increase and now-productive farm soils are depleted through overuse of chemical fertilizers.

However, there is another area that should not be overlooked - the effects of introducing specific powerful types of beneficial microorganisms to good soils. For growers who have worked hard to build up organic levels in their soil and are proud of their big earthworm populations, the strategic use of microbial additives can often take yields from Very Good to "Wow!" levels.

For example, when the right types of mycorrhizal fungi are matched up with the right host plants, and the surrounding soil contains a broad spectrum of mineral elements, and all the millions of living soil creatures have good amounts of organic matter to digest, the results lead to plants performing at their full genetic potential. In many cases, this is pretty spectacular to see - clusters of beefsteak tomatoes, bell peppers crowding against each other, sweet corn developing extra ears, melon vines growing twice as long as usual, and giant squash getting, well, even more giant.

The best thing about microbially enhancing good soils is that it's so easy. Just adding a pinch of the superior mycorrhizal fungi spores in our inoculant products to any transplant roots can lead to colonization of an entire garden bed. Or, scattering our MycoMinerals product on a bio-lawn, or dusting our micronized Endo-inoculant on dampened crop seeds, or dipping the tips of bareroot trees into our Root Dip product can do the job - no big complicated deal.

I've proven all this to myself through thousands of test-versus-control plantings - and I'm not easy to convince! You can try it yourself by inoculating plants in one area and not another (do all the "without" plantings first to avoid accidental transfer of microscopic spores on your hands or tools). Note that you can only do this experiment the first year - after that, there will probably be residual spores in the soil, which will make it impossible to do a valid with-and-without test.

For decades, the chemical industry and their sponsored university researchers have worked on developing soil chemistry techniques that boost yields. I think treating the soil as a living structure and using biology-based growing methods can do even better.

It's time to take yields and plant health beyond simply using organic inputs. Let's use the tools that nature has given us to make our good soils great.

Cheers, and good growing,

Don Chapman
President, BioOrganics, Inc.

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