The concept of biological farming is to concentrate on whole ecosystems, especially the soil environment, as opposed to simply the above ground plant environment. The farmer must encompass air, soil, water, plants, and all organisms into their farming practices. The purpose is to stimulate biological activity in the soil and use natural organisms as our fertilizers, pesticides, and herbicides. These microorganisms in the soil are the key to our survival as a species.
Beneficial microbes have numerous benefits to plant growth. These germs can attach to big minerals and break them down into smaller portions to the plant to absorb. They can also increase the nutrient efficiency of the plant by providing the correct nutrients at the perfect time during growth. This contributes to iincreaseplant vigor and growth increasing yields and germplasm.
Soil microbes may also decompose soil organic matter (SOM) to release minerals and nutrients to the soil over an extended time period. This forms an improved soil structure which gives rise to numerous pore spaces to be occupied by water and air. Together, these effects will move and replicate to the natural surroundings permitting the land to heal. To start biological farming, soil amendments have to be inserted to kick-start the biological action.
These soil amendments are organic in origin. In other words, they’re free of synthetics and are completely natural. Including green mulch, brown manure, kelp, compost, and worms (castings also ), just to mention a few. These substances provide inoculants of germs (compost and worms) and nutrients (kelp, manures) to start the procedure. Each farm will have different requirements predicated of farm background, soil quality, crop choice, local weather, etc., but all can benefit from this step.
The trick to success is to stop all, or sometimes most importantly, farmicide use (pesticide, herbicide, etc.). Farmicides kill their goal, but they also kill beneficial microbes in the soil. Adding soil amendments and stopping farmicide usage will allow beneficial microbes like mycorrhizae and rhizobia to repopulate the land.
Mycorrhizae are beneficial parasites which increase plant growth by providing nutrients to the plant in exchange for sugars. Mycorrhizae form a fibrous network of hyphae to accumulate nutrients and water which are away from the plant roots. This helps to boost plant growth and reduce the need for immediate fertilization.
These fungi also create symbiotic relationships with particular plant species to execute this exchange of nutrients. Mycorrhizae have been shown to have a powerful positive influence on plant growth, yield, and vitality. Another well-understood symbiosis is with plants and rhizobia.
Rhizobia are bacterial organisms responsible for nitrogen fixation in soils. These bacteria convert nitrogen gas into a usable form of organic nitrogen for different organisms. Rhizobia form nodules on plant roots, which comprise Rhizobium bacteroids. This is where nitrogen fixation occurs.
Nitrogen fixation is a very energy and resource-intensive process of us and yet these germs do it for a couple of sugar molecules. Available nitrogen is often a major limiting factor in agriculture operations where water and climate are inadequate quality and quantity. This is the most significant benefit and it’s well researched and established. But, there are more benefits when an entire microbial community is made and permitted to thrive.
Maintaining a healthy population of soil microbes enables the organic material to continue through the whole recycling process producing a reservoir of nutrients. These nutrients are slowly released by decomposing bacteria and fungi (formerly murdered by fungicides) within the soil. Other soil organisms will transport heavy metals into the plant, which is important for normal plant growth or soil remediation. Adding SOM into a soil provides the essential elements for a healthy microbial community.
With SOM, microbes can break down large particles to smaller, soluble forms needed for plant absorption. SOM also adds carbon to the soil. This also improves the soil structure in addition to promotes the growth of further microbes. A soil with high SOM includes a healthy microbial community, which helps the plants in the uptake of various nutrients.
Today’s farming operations increasingly rely on inputs of fertilizer and farmicides and sadly, those inputs are getting more costly and are required in greater doses. Utilizing soil microbes to increase nutrient efficiency in the area won’t just reduce production costs, but will produce healthier plants and a healthier crop. These microbes are able to find specific nutrients required through various plant growth stages.
Supplying the ideal number of nutrients at the right time permits the plant to grow quickly while still keeping a healthy, natural energy. Plants may grow extremely fast when fed a high nitrogen fertilizer. However, a high nitrogen environment can block the uptake of other nutrients, weakening the plant in general. The plant can’t keep up its defenses in this rapid growth and consequently, farmicides are implemented.
Implementing high nitrogen fertilizers also changes the pH of the ground. This also impacts the plants’ capacity to take a balanced source of nutrients. Thankfully there’s a solution. A healthy population of germs can address this issue.
As soil organic matter (SOM) and microbe populations start to increase in a specific soil, the pH of the soil will slowly equilibrate to approximately 6.5. This is important since a soil with a pH of 6.5 – 7 provides optimal nutrient availability for the plant. Coincidently, this is also the best pH for soil microbial activity.
So the microbes (and the farmer) have double the incentive to balance soil pH. The microbes do it as it promotes plant growth. Strong and healthful plants provide plenty of food for the microbes. As each of these changes starts to fall into place, natural disease suppression rises and pests no more become a significant issue.
When the farmer has stopped farmicide software, beneficial microbes not only interrupts the dirt but also aerial parts of the plant also. Research shows that healthy plants may have a minimal of 60 percent of the leaf area covered in fungi and germs! These microbes produce a physical and chemical barrier on the leaf the exact same manner soil microbes do.
Soil microbes have many different tactics they use to prevent disease in their nurturing plant. Soil microbes can avoid illness by excreting chemicals or creating a physical barrier around the origin. Again, it’s their life at stake if the plant becomes infected and may no longer supply sugars.
Biological farming also helps to improve the soil structure resulting in increased soil water retention. A biologically active soil creates pores for which to keep organic matter. This can be generated by root growth and microbial growth. Since the plant roots grow and expand, perish, and shrivel, they leave behind pore spaces which are utilized to hold water and air. Microbes also create humus: highly nutritious, highly porous, carbon-rich organic matter.
Humus is quite porous and can hold a whole lot of water. As soils become more enriched with SOM, humus will grow in the parasitic activity. This permits the soil to retain considerably more water than agriculture. Not only will higher water retention save on irrigation demands, but it can also allow a crop to survive drought conditions. Soils with larger water capacity have the capability to continually supply water well beyond their industrial counterparts.
All this biological activity also increases soil carbon. Soil carbon advantages microbial communities traps CO2 in the atmosphere and helps wash water as it goes into the water table. Plant sugars and material fed to germs are two ways carbon is readily stored in the soil under biological farming. This can effectively remove carbon from the air and offset using mechanical equipment on the farm. Biological farming is the key to a prosperous agriculture and a healthy planet.
As we must not overlook all this that microbes have inhabitants. There may be high populations like those found in established biological and organic operations, or they may be low like those found in industrial agriculture. Varying degrees of biological action can render varied harvests across neighboring areas.
Any comparison between organic farming and industrial farming should include microorganism population counts. Bringing this statistic to the area of management would provide scientists and farmers a foundation for which to quantify, and manage. Then, we can start understanding actually how much germs can affect our agriculture and alter our future.