Monthly Archives: January 2017

Temperature a Factor in Soil Health

Soil Health

Temperature a Factor in Soil Health

Here’s an interesting article from Texas Tech professor Bobbie McMichael. The article ties in a few factors for soil health including; cover crops, soil temperature, beneficial soil microorganisms, no-till, and soil erosion.

Soil Health

Soil Health is needed for healthy plants.

Daily temperature range a factor in soil health

Maintaining residue–cover crop or old crop stubble–helps stabilize soil temperature and improve soil and plant health, according to Texas research presented at the Beltwide Cotton Conferences.
Soil temperature is the main factor considered in the paper and the findings can be summed up in these two sentences.
Soil temperature fluctuations affect viability of bacteria and fungi. Warmer soils favor bacteria.
That final sentence is worth repeating ” warmer soils favor bacteria”. So farmers and growers would be better off if they use techniques to keep their soil warm during the colder months and cooler during the hot months.

Nutrient Uptake

Nutrient uptake was also considered. It’s well known that beneficial soil microorganisms improve nutrient uptake. Not surprisingly, a more stable temperature range was favored by the microflora population.
McMichael says the microflora population also affects nutrient uptake. A more stable daily temperature range (DTR) favors fungi and improved nutrient uptake.

 Cover Crops

Cover crops are important for a number of reason. They stabilize soil temperature, DTR. Cover crops help the beneficial microorganisms, including fungi, thrive. They also help the plant grow better, more efficient root systems.

“We are beginning to understand the need for stable DTR for the soil to be healthy. We develop a regime for really good fungi to thrive. The cover is important for better roots, better microbes, and temperature stability.”

Custom Biologicals specializes in beneficial soil microorganisms for agriculture, farming and home gardening. We manufacture Biota Max™, as well as a number of other biofertilizers.

3 Tips for Eco Friendly Gardening

Eco Friendly Gardening

3 Tips for Eco Friendly Gardening

Its the beginning of a new year so lets talk about three ways eco friendly ways to improve your home garden.

Most of us want to improve our environment. Well that saying Think Globally and act

Eco Friendly Gardening

Eco Friendly Gardening Tips

Locally, comes into play here. So lets all think about environmental sustainability as we plan for our 2017 garden. While we’re talking about the new year, remember gardening burns about 250 calories an hour. So plan on spending a lot of time in your garden this year.

Improve Soil Quality Sustainably

Soil quality is at the heart of every home garden and each year we should think about how to improve the soil. Two environmentally friendly ways to improve soil are compost and biofertilizers. These are two gardening supplies that should not be overlooked.

There are a number good places to find out how to produce your own compost, Here’s one. Ultimately, using compost helps the soil by adding organic matter. By producing your own compost, you add organic nutrients to the soil out of waste products that would have ended up in the landfill, helping on one.

Secondly, use biofertilizers to help improve your soil. Biofertilizers are discussed at length on this website, but ultimately they help plants get the most out of existing soil nutrients. Between using compost and using biofertilizers, most gardens have no need to add traditional fertilizers. This is not only environmentally an friendly way to garden, but it is also a sustainable and sensible way to garden.

Eliminate the Use of Chemical Insecticides

When you eliminate the use of chemical insecticides, natural insect predators will return to your garden. The natural predators will take care of many of your insect problems. If you have a specific pest problem try use an eco friendly pesticide like soap, or biologicals.

Select Appropriate Plants

The idea to select appropriate plants is often overlooked. Every area has plants that thrive in the local climate conditions. Selecting these plants, will reduce the need to over care for your plants. This reduces your stress, as well as increases the potential for success in your home garden.

Ok, these are my tips for eco friendly gardening. I’d love to hear your ideas and thoughts about your environmentally friendly garden.

Custom Biologicals manufactures and distributes a number of biofertilizers for gardening, farming and agriculture.

How Organic Farming will Save Us All

How Organic Farming will Save Us All

 

I ran into this organic farming article online and thought I would discuss it here. The idea is  that we need to get rid of our outdated notions of organic farming.

Yes, organic farming takes more effort and the willingness to try new strategies. But sustainable farming has upside as it produces a more desirable crop and tends to be more organic farmingprofitable.

Many of use want foods that don’t have potentially harmful chemicals. Yet the reality of this is that food costs go up and strategic planning by the farmer is critical. And yes, there is more labor by the farmer as well. The good news is that there tends to be more profit at the end of the day.

If there is a stereotype of the organic farmer it’s that they spend their days wrapped in droopy clothes made of hemp and burlap, becoming one with nature while foraging for chanterelles. Yet the reality of many organic farmers couldn’t be further from the truth. For those serious about agriculture free of synthetic chemicals, farming is a complex system that requires endless days of laborious work, with the potential to yield lucrative results.

Managing soils from year to year is also important in organic farming. The quote below is well spoken ” The goal is every year your soil is better than it was the year before.

This can be achieved in a few ways including using biological soil amendments, cover crops, and no-till soil strategies. Almost any soil problems can be overcome with some solid planning and a multiple year plan.

Well-managed, nutrient-dense soils are the guiding light to finding success in self-sustaining, organic agriculture. “It’s not just something that can be done for 10 years or 100 years until the soil is exhausted,” says Preston. “The goal is every year your soil is better than it was the year before.”

A link to the full article is below.

How organic farming will save us all – if we can throw away our antiquated notions of what it means

Claudia McNeilly, Special to National Post

Link to full article. 

Custom Biologicals manufactures a wide variety of products for use in organic farming and organic gardening supplies.

No-Till Soil vs Tilled Soil a Novel Experiment

no-till soil

No-Till Soil vs Tilled Soil a Novel Experiment

Here’s an interesting experiment designed to show the differences in microbial activity in no-till soil versus tilled soil. While the experiment was not designed to get detailed information, it does have the effect of showing that no-till soil has higher microbial activity than tilled soil.

The experiment was designed as more of a demonstration and used mens cotton briefs, yes underwear. Since the briefs are made of cotton, soil bacteria would be expected to degrade the briefs. In no-till soil the briefs degrade over during the time of the experiment. In the till soil, the briefs did not.

The full article is below.

Brief Encounter

A Demonstration Using Cotton Underwear Offers Lessons On Soil Management

BY LORETTA SORENSEN P&D Correspondent

Why were cotton briefs used to bring a message to farmers at the 2016 South Dakota Soil Health Coalition’s first Soil Health School?

South Dakota State University (SDSU) Extension Soils Field Specialist Anthony Bly says it was an effective way to draw attention to the way different soil management practices affect soil health. A pair of briefs was buried in the soil at three different locations that included corn with conventional tillage, soybeans under mulch tillage and no-till soil where cover crops are grown.

“Crop diversity in itself causes soil microbial populations to rise and fall,” Bly says. “That’s because the crops play a role in feeding the microbes. Moisture conditions also play an important role in soil microbial populations.”

After selecting the sites, briefs were buried to about the waistline five weeks before he needed them for his demonstration. Cotton briefs were used because cotton contains carbon, which is one of the things soil microbes feed on.

“Men’s cotton underwear briefs contain high amounts of carbon,” Bly says. “Therefore, they can be buried in the soil and retrieved to observe and evaluate soil microbiological activity and ultimately soil health status.”

In the soil health demonstration, a new pair of briefs was compared to the brief from each field. The brief buried in the no-till field where cover crops were grown showed the most deterioration. As part of the evaluation of the project, the briefs were weighed to make a statistical comparison of the deterioration of each pair. The control brief, which was never buried, weighed 58.5 grams. The brief buried in the conventional tilled corn field weighed 50.8 grams. The briefs buried in the mulch till soybean field weighted 48.3 pounds. The lightest brief was the one buried in the no-till soil, weighing 28.4 grams.

“Hardly anything was left of the brief that was buried in the no-till soil,” Bly says. “That indicates extensive soil microbiological activity and a blanced soil ecosystem. That’s the kind of soil microbiological activity that will cause crop residue to quickly break down.”

Bly points out that he isn’t a soil health researcher but is familiar with soil health principles. He explains that soil health researchers sometimes use the idea of a “herd” to explain how soil microbes function.

“If you think of the microbes as a herd of cows, it’s easier to understand how diversity boosts soil microbiological activity,” Bly says. “The ‘herd,’ when they have the same crop every year or are in an environment where two crops are consistently rotated every two years, microbiology diversity decreases. That’s because the mono crops or just the two crops provide food for a certain set of microbes. Ten different plants would provide resources for a wider range of microbiology.”

Different plants also provide different levels and combinations of carbon and nitrogen, so a wider range of plants will stimulate a wider range of soil microbiological activity.

The briefs project wasn’t intended to provide a great deal of scientific information. Since the fields where the briefs were buried were random, and there was way to establish a control site, the conclusions of Bly’s project were fairly simple.

“Since there was less of the material left from the briefs buried in the no-till site we concluded that microbial activity in that field was greater there than in the other two sites,” Bly says. “That information may be helpful to no-tillers who struggle with lack of residue breakdown. Adding cover crops or diversifying their crop rotation may boost soil microbial activity and break residue down more effectively.”

Bly also believes no-tillers might benefit from understanding the value of diversified cropping in terms of soil health. While no-tillers realize some benefit from no-till practices, they may be able to significantly increase those benefits with added crop diversity.

“Keeping a live root in the soil with cover crops is also key to active soil microbiology,” Bly says. “Roots exude carbohydrates, which is one of the foods microbes want. Microbes bring nutrients to the plants and consume the carbohydrates, creating a synergy that can improve plant and soil health.”

Soil microbes also form soil aggregates, which are groups of soil particles that bind to each other more strongly than to adjacent particles. The space between the aggregates provide pore space for retention and exchange of air and water.

Cover crops also sequester inorganic nutrients such as nitrates that remain after a crop is removed. Instead of migrating into waterways, the unused nutrients can be held in the soil for use at a future date.

“Many people have seen the rainfall infiltration demonstration which explains the importance of soil health, too,” Bly says. “Many times people have an ‘Aha!’ moment when they see that demonstration and more thoroughly understand how important it is to promote and support soil health. We hope some folks who saw the briefs demonstration had the same kind of realization, which can be a really great moment.”

Bly also notes that research is demonstrating that soil microbial activity and soil health can further be enhanced with a crop/livestock integrated system that helps utilize and manage plant residue levels.

Additional information about soil health and the importance of soil microbiology can be found at www.nrcs.usda.gov, searching for “The Living Soil: Bacteria.”


Custom Biologicals manufactures a wide variety of biological products for agriculture. Including products that contain beneficial soil bacteria and beneficial soil Trichoderma.

Biofertilizers for Farming

biofertilizers for farming

Biofertilizers for Farming

I spend a lot of time on this site talking about biofertilizers. In this post, I’ll talk about specific information about biofertilizers for farming and some key benefits to the grower and to the plant. We’ll also discuss why many of us think that biofertilizers are the future

biofertilizers for farming

Biofertilizers can be applied a number of ways.

of farming.

What is a Biofertilizer?

A quick definition is in order. A biofertilizer is a living microorganism that helps promote plant growth. Biofertilizers help plants by increasing the availability of key nutrients to the plant. Additionally, they provide growth hormones, known as phytohormones, to the plant.

 

Benefits to Farmers of Biofertilizers

While this is not all of the benefits, here are some specific benefits to farmers of using biofertilizers.

  • Increase Yield
  • Reduce Fertilizer Usage
  • Reduce Irrigation and Water Usage
  • Replenish the Soil
  • Increase Farm Profitability – Increased Return on Investment (ROI)
  • Supports Ag Sustainability – Can be Used in Organic Farming

Of course, no two farms will get the same results, but in general this is a good list of the benefits of using biofertilizers.

Let’s talk about each of these benefits in a little more detail.

Increased Yield

Biofertilizers increase the amount of beneficial microorganisms in the soil, particularly in the root zone. In turn, these microorganisms release trapped nutrients, capture atmospheric nutrients, help balance the soils pH, help trap moisture, and produce plant growth hormones. The end result is an increase in plant root size, a healthier, more productive plant, and increase plant yield for the farmer.

Reduced Fertilizer Usage

Biofertilizers work in the root zone or rhizosphere. In the rhizosphere, these beneficial microorganisms help unlock existing soil and atmospheric nutrients. In some cases, solubilizing nutrients such as phosphorus. In other cases, they convert atmospheric nitrogen into a form of nitrogen that can be used by the plant (Azos). In all cases, biofertilizers use existing nutrients more efficiently thus reducing overall traditional fertilizer usage.

Reduce Irrigation and Water Usage

Using biofertilizers can reduce irrigation. This happens because the beneficial soil microbes reduce the compaction of the soil, creating micropores in the soil. This reduced compaction, increases the ability of the soil to retain moisture. An increased soil moisture content, reduces runoff and wasted water.

Replenish the Soil

Beneficial microorganisms and soil nutrients are the keys to healthy soils. Each year beneficial microbes are lost to flood, freeze, fire, and toxic chemicals. Replacing and maintaining the soil biota is an important function of biofertilizer usage.

Increase Farm Profitability – Increased Return on Investment (ROI)

The key to running a successful 21st century farm is profitability. Bio-fertilizers maximize crop production and reduce traditional fertilizer costs. This combination allows biofertilizer usage to produce an outstanding return on the investment dollar for the farmer.

Supports Ag Sustainability – Can be Used in Organic Farming

Agricultural sustainability is key concept for modern farms. Biofertilizer usage reduces traditional fertilizer (N,P,K) usage and runoff. Controlling fertilizer runoff is a key in many sustainability plans. Additionally, biofertilizers can be used in organic farming. Check with your Organic certifier.

Custom Biologicals manufactures a wide variety of biofertilizers for farmers. Should you have questions about biofertilizers for farming, or any of are other products, feel free to contact me at (561) 797-3008 or via email at Bill@CustomBio.biz.

Distributor requests are always welcome.