The Holganix Blog

Holganix Agriculture: Data & Building The Case For BioDiversity

holganix ag

For growers using Holganix Bio 800+ Agriculture, an increase in yield and soil health has led to an increase in ROI on crops.

Earlier this week, we sat down with Holganix President of Agriculture, Dave Stark, PhD to discuss the commercial and university field trial results from over the past few years. We also discussed the importance of selecting a microbial product that is high in diversity, and it’s no secret that Holganix Bio 800+ Agriculture is the most complete, diverse blend of microbes available on the market.

In this blog, we’ve compiled Dr. Stark’s two key points from that conversation. The concepts are available below in video clips and summarized highlights. If you are reading this blog via email, please click here to have access to the videos.


Building The Case For BioDiversity - Selecting A Microbial Product

Watch the above 10-minute video or read a quick synopsis below.

Why do soil microbes matter? It’s plants and microbes that work together to build a healthy, functional soil. Soil Microbes build organic matter that build soil structure, allowing soil to hold onto water, retain nutrients in forms the plant can use, and let air into soil.

Bacteria, fungi and protozoa all work together to build soil health. These soil microbes function like a car’s engine; each single component is important, but being out of balance can cause problems like diseases, plant stress, and more.

When it comes to microbial products, the microbe count is important, yet diversity can be even more crucial. By having a product filled with a diversity of life, the soil and plant are prepared for whatever hurdle it needs to face.

Think of it as your equivalent to a multi-vitamin. Instead of a magic bullet, Holganix Bio 800+ Agriculture parachute in an army of specialists, each of which is capable of filling in gaps to balance the biological requirements of the soil.

Consider the environment you are asked to grow plants in. Are the soils the same from property-to-property? Do the climate conditions change day-to-day or hour-by-hour? Are the pathogens and stresses that are attacking your plants changing? Don’t you want to give your plants every possible advantage to adapt and respond to all of these changing challenges?  

Whereas a single microbial strain would be able to assist with one single, targeted problem, a microbial product with a huge diversity of species is better equipped to handle problems in a changing environment.

Just as a car can’t be fixed with a single screwdriver, Holganix Bio 800+ Agriculture is an entire toolbox of microbes adept to handle numerous problems


The Data Does The Talking - Holganix Bio 800+ Agriculture Provides an ROI for growers 

 

In the above 8.5-minute video, Dr. Stark explores different trial results from different crops. Watch the video for the full explanation of each trial or read the bulleted highlights below.

  • On corn, the recommended application rate is 0.5 gallons per acre at planting (or as close as you can). We are seeing yield increase ranges on corn from 3-to-22 bushels per acre with typical results ranging from 6-to-11 bushels.

  • On soybeans, the recommended applications rate is also 0.5 gallons per acre at planting (or as close as you can). We are seeing typical yield increases of 2-to-6 bushels.

  • Additional crops including berries, cucurbits, tomato, potato and others are reviewed in the video.


Want to dig in deeper?

If you are looking to dig deeper into the results behind Holganix Agriculture, be sure to check out this blog which goes into detail on several university and commercial grower trials. Or, feel free to reach out to Holganix directly by emailing David Stark P.h.D., the President of Agriculture, at dstark@holganix.com.

soil food web

Tags: agriculture, the science behind holganix

[PODCAST] Farm Tank Interviews Barrett Ersek on Gratitude and Business Innovation

PODCAST
 
"A wise person learns from his experience, but an extremely wise person learns from the experience of others" — Barrett Ersek

Today's blog article comes from FarmTank Podcasts by Jordan Van Trump! Click the button below to access the podcast, or read Jordan's summarized highlights below. Be sure to sign up for Farm Tank Podcasts and share the podcast with friends!
 
A big thank you to Farm Tank and Jordan Van Trump for interview Barrett and sharing our Holganix story. 
 
Barrett's Podcast
 
A Note from Jordan Van Trump, Farm Tank Podcasts
 
Barrett Ersek, Founder and CEO of the Holganix, is a true American entrepreneur. Listen to this podcast to learn a collection of insight about building your own business even when you think all the cards are stacked against you. Barrett sold his first company for $3.5 million, his second for over $10 million, and is currently in the process of building another multimillion dollar venture. This man has a lot to share when it comes to overcoming adversity and the significance of gratitude in business as well as life. He has personally had to overcome many challenges and obstacles, many that would have stopped most people, but not Barrett Ersek. Not only did he overcome adversity, but he has excelled every step of the way.Barrett has been invited to lecture at places like MIT, The London School of Business, and the India School of Business.
 
Barrett now has his sights set on finding new and innovative ways to improve soil health and to leave a lasting footprint on earth. In this podcast episode, Barrett and I have great discussions about business and life. He shares some extremely valuable lessons he has learned along his amazing journey.
 
We also talk about a wide variety of topics such as: deep sea fishing in the Caribbean, meeting Brother David Steindl-Rast, and some of the best Philly cheese-steaks in Philadelphia. Listen to the podcast below to learn more about this earth changing agronomist and influential American Entrepreneur.
 
 
Want To Hear More?

If you are interested in receiving our exclusive podcasts, content, and Q&A's on a regular basis, visit Farm Tank's site, and simply enter your e-mail address. It's that simple! No spam, ever. Just great stuff.
 
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Tags: agriculture, lawn care

5 Types of Soil Microbes And What They Do For Plants

 

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We are all feeling the pressure to do more with less. Each state is talking about restricting fertilizer and phosphorus, and although these things are great for the environment it can also make it difficult to reach our needs when it comes to plant growth. What can we do to help both our plants and ourselves?

Read our blog article below for information about (1) how much fertilizer actually goes to the plant and (2) the role microbes play in fertilizer. If you’d rather dig deeper into this topic, skip the text and watch our webinar featuring Holganix President of Agriculture, David Stark Ph.D. If you're reading this blog via email, click here to watch the video.

 

How much fertilizer actually goes to the plant?

Did you know that only 40 to 60% of the fertilizer we apply actually goes to the plant, the remaining is lost to run off into our waterways, volatilization to the air or is tied up in the soil. This is why soil health is such an imperative piece of plant health. Functional soil is a soil embedded with organic matter and soil microbes that work together to hold onto nutrients in the soil and convert nutrients locked in the soil.

Beneficial soil microbes form symbiotic relationships with the plant. In fact, the plant will exert as much as 30% of its energy to the root zone to make food for microbes. In return those microbes not only protect the plant from stress, but also feed the plant by converting and holding nutrients in the soil.


What are the different types of soil microbes?

There are five different types of soil microbes: bacteria, actinomycetes, fungi, protozoa and nematodes. Each of these microbe types has a different job to boost soil and plant health.


Bacteria

Bacteria is the crucial workforce of soils. They are the final stage of breaking down nutrients and releasing them to the root zone for the plant. In fact, the Food and Agriculture Organization once said “Bacteria may well be the most valuable of life forms in the soil.”


Actinomycetes

Actinomycetes were once classified as fungi, and act similarly in the soil. However, some actinomycetes are predators and will harm the plant while others living in the soil can act as antibiotics for the plant.


Fungi

Like bacteria, fungi also lives in the rootzone and helps make nutrients available to plants. For example, Mycorrhizae is a fungi that facilitate water and nutrient uptake by the roots and plants to provide sugars, amino acids and other nutrients.


Protozoa

Protozoa are larger microbes that love to consume and be surrounded by bacteria. In fact, nutrients that are eaten by bacteria are released when protozoa in turn eat the bacteria.


Nematodes

Nematodes are microscopic worms that live around or inside the plant. Some nematodes are predators while others are beneficial, eating pathogenic nematodes and secreting nutrients to the plant.


Want to keep digging into soil science?

Within the natural world there exists a complex balance among soil microbes known as the soil food web. Plants, animals and microbes are all instruments in an orchestra; each plays a crucial part in the natural symphony of life. If even one of the players is out of tune, the whole soil food web suffers. However, when everything is in order, the results are beautiful.

Download our Digging into Soil Science ebook to explore:

1. How the soil food web supports healthy plants
2. The power behind soil microbes
3. Soil types and how to improve the health of your soil

soil food web 

Tags: science behind holganix, lawn care, agriculture, farmer, golf course, sports field

The Pros and Cons to DIY Compost Tea

compost tea

Lately, human probiotics seem to be all the rage. It’s seen as a hip, new science found in the form of yogurt and pills that restore your body’s health. Human probiotics is the idea of introducing beneficial or benign microorganisms to our gut to naturally boost gut health.

Just as with human probiotics, plants need probiotics too! Soil microbes help the plant carry out daily functions and can lead to optimized plant resilience, increased yields and a stronger more web-like root system.

Perhaps one of the most common methods of incorporating plant probiotics into a plant health program is by applying compost tea.

 

Plant’s “Tea of Choice”: Compost Tea

Named for its murky brown tea-colored resemblance, this brewed, water extract of compost works to increase the amount of nutrients and soil microbes available to the plant as well as extending numerous other benefits that come from traditional compost. There are both pros and cons for incorporating compost teas; see below for some of our highlights.

 

Advantages of Compost Teas

Inexpensive – By applying compost tea to your plants, you reduce the need for fertilizers and pesticides, ultimately driving down the cost to keep plants healthy.

Aids in Producing a Healthier Plant – When applied, compost tea suppresses foliar diseases and speeds up the breakdown of toxins. Compost tea increases the amount of nutrients available to the plant through microorganism processes, resulting in an overall healthier plant.

Organic – Because it’s made up of natural components, crops nurtured with compost tea are organic, giving you a competitive edge in the plant health/organic world.

Easy to Make – With the right tools and components, compost tea can be made by just about anyone who has good organizational skills.

 

Disadvantages of Compost Teas

Inconsistent Products – There are many variables in producing compost tea including: compost, water, food materials, time of processing, good record keeping and sourcing materials. In order to ensure consistent results, brewers need to be exact in their recipe-building and production process. Even when brewers are organized in their production and recipe, each batch differs slightly from the last.

Inconsistent Results – Though they might be the same kind of plant, not every plant is exactly the same. As a result, the benefits from applying compost tea can differ slightly per plant.

Lack of Scientific Proof – Compost tea recipes are mostly made up of “he said, she said” gardener testimonials rather than actual scientific proof; therefore, following these recipes can generate unreliable results.

Time Consuming – Because of the “brewing” process, producing compost tea can often be time consuming, and once produced, compost teas must be applied shortly after for best results.

 

Holganix Can Help!

Brewing your own compost tea is tricky, but Holganix can help! Holganix’s flagship product Bio 800+ is a plant probiotic derived from a compost tea base that contains over 800 species of beneficial soil microbes. Because of our manufacturing process, we ensure product consistency and DNA fingerprint each batch to understand which species of soil microbes are present.

To learn more about Holganix Bio 800+ visit:  http://www.holganix.com/blog/what-is-bio-800 

Tags: agriculture, the science behind holganix

Top 5 Plant and Soil Science TED Talks

soil TED TALK

At Holganix, we are self-appointed soil geeks. Learning about new trends, research and theories that are happening in the field makes us tick. We bet it gets you excited too!

Here are our top 5 favorite plant and soil science TED Talks. Warning! Some of these are crazy, unique ideas that will make Holganix almost seem ordinary! If you know a good TED Talk we are missing, post it in the comments of this blog. We’d LOVE to check it out!

If you are reading this on an email, video function will not operate. Click on the link to watch each TED Talk. 

 

Humus – The Essential Ingredient

Humus is what is left after soil microorganisms have decomposed organic matter. It holds nutrients and moisture and provides a great structure for planting in. Humus is essential for food production and is being gradually depleted. Learn more in Graeme Sait’s TED Talk.

 

Healthy Soil, Healthy World 

If you pick up a handful of soil, you will be holding more microorganisms in your hand than the entire number of people who have ever lived on earth. Think about that for a moment. Can you imagine the quantity of living things in your grasp? Soil is FULL of life. In this TED Talk you’ll have the opportunity to explore the soil from a microorganisms’ point of view.

 

Putting Carbon Back Where It Belongs

Good news! Plants can quite literally change the face of the earth. By growing more plants, we can capture more carbon dioxide, water, production, biodiversity and profit? In fact, a 1% change in soil organic matter across just one quarter of the world’s land area could sequester 300 billion tons of physical C02. Check out Tony Lovell’s TED Talk here.

 

Stop Treating Our Soil Like Dirt!

Healthy soil is not dirt! Healthy soils are critical for keeping water clean producing food and buffering the effects of extreme weather. Soil plays a fundamental role in our lives in three key ways… Watch Karen Wynne’s TED Talk here.

 

Soil – From Dirt To Lifetime 

Did you know there are more living organisms beneath the soil then there are above it? Soil scientists can’t even come to an agreement about how many microbes are actually in the soil. Check out Fred Kirshenmann’s TED Talk here.

soil food web

Tags: lawn care, sports turf, golf course, marketing hints and tips, agriculture

What You Don't Know About Sustainable Agriculture

Sustainable agriculture plays a big role in today's farming industry and it's shaping the way the world grows organic, low input or holistic crops.

Check out our slideshare below for seven key facts to know about sustainable agriculture. If you're reading this blog via email and having difficulty viewing the slideshare, click here: What You Don't Know About Sustainable Agriculture 

Soil health is crucial to sustainable agriculture
Having healthy soil means you have a better growing habitat for crops. When our soil ecosystem is in balance, crops are better able to handle stresses and need less inputs like fertilizers. Nurturing soil health means big improvements in sustainability.
Leonardo da Vinci once stated, "we know more about the movement of celestial bodies than the soil underfoot." Today's technology and research is doing a lot to close that gap. Update your knowledge on soil health by downloading our Digging into Soil Science Ebook.  
 
soil food web

Tags: agriculture

Top 5 Techniques to Improve Sustainability at The Farm

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Sustainable agriculture is becoming increasingly important. However, farmers looking to improve sustainability at the farm are faced with the overwhelming challenge of producing high-yield, high-quality crops without undermining the natural systems and resources that crop productivity and environmental sustainability depend on. That challenge is becoming even more crucial when faced with today’s growing world population, which is forecasted to reach 9.7 billion by 2050.

We’ve compiled a collaboration of some of the most popular sustainable agriculture techniques employed by farmers today. These techniques help farmers increase yields and crop resilience, gain control over weeds, pests, disease, erosion, and aid in producing high-quality soil.

 

#1 Using big data to create field-specific applications

Instead of treating a field uniformly, precision agriculture uses big data to prescribe site-specific treatments utilizing technology like GPS and GIS. This micromanagement of a farm allows farmers to (1) provide the ideal recipe for growing the best crops possible on a specific location based on the needs of the soil and crop and (2) minimize their environmental footprint by using fertilizers and pesticides only when needed.

 

#2 Adding microbial products to boost yields and crop resilience and reduces the need for fertilizers and pesticides 

Instead of adding nutrients, microbial products add living, beneficial microorganisms that naturally increase crop and soil health the way Mother Nature intended. While seen as a new technology, data from microbial products demonstrate that soil microbes have the power to affect big change in the agriculture industry.

For example, Holganix Agriculture (aBio 800+ product) is a 100% organic microbial product, infused with over 800 species of diverse microbes to optimize your soils. Studies have shown that Holganix Agriculture increases yields and crop resilience when faced with stress, and reduces the need for fertilizers and pesticides.

Want to learn more about results seen with Holganix Agriculture? Check out our case study “Boosting Yield and Degrees Brix at Alfalfa Farm Winery”: http://www.holganix.com/blog/boosting-yield-and-degrees-brix-at-alfalfa-winery

 

#3 No-till/soil enrichment enhances soil health and decreases erosion and runoff

No-till farming helps prepare the land for crops without mechanically disturbing the soil. There are countless benefits that come with adopting no-till farming including a significant decrease in soil erosion, an increase in water infiltration and retention by the soil (resulting in less runoff of water that is often contaminated with fertilizers and pesticides) AND because the soil is not being frequently agitated, no-till farming promotes biodiversity in and around the soil.

 

#4 Cover crops alleviate compaction and protect from erosion

Planting cover crops such as clover, oats, or radishes help alleviate compaction so oxygen and water can sufficiently flow in the soil. It also adds organic matter to the soil when tilled under for the next farming season and helps hold soil in place, reducing crusting and protecting against erosion from wind and rain.

For additional information regarding cover crop benefits, watch the video below by The Soil Health Institute. If viewing this blog via email, click here to view the video.

 

 

 

# 5 Crop rotation naturally curbs pest problems

Crop rotation allows farmers to curb pest problems naturally. Many pests have preferences for specific crops; therefore, the continuous growth of the same crop guarantees pests a steady food supply. By growing different crops in succession in the same field, you help break that food supply and control pests.

soil food web

Tags: agriculture, organic agriculture, sustainable agriculture

What are plant growth promoting bacteria?

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Plants aren’t as vulnerable as they appear. Soil microbes form symbiotic (mutually beneficial) relationships with the plant, offering to boost plant defenses and plant growth in return for food sources.

Plant Growth-Promoting Bacteria (PGPB) is a special class of bacteria that occupy the rhizosphere (root zone) of the plant and have the ability to promote plant growth and plant defenses.

 

PGPB directly affects plant growth

PGPB directly affects plant growth by facilitating the availability of nutrients such as nitrogen, phosphorus and iron. These nutrients are critical to plant biochemistry, and without them plant growth is limited. While nitrogen, phosphorus and iron may be abundant in the soil, they are often found in a form the plant can’t utilize. PGPB convert those nutrients to the form the plant can use.

PGPB can also produce plant hormones like auxins, gibberellins and cytokinins that stimulate plant root and shoot growth in exchange for food sources from the plant.

 

PGPB protects the plant

PGPB has the ability to protect the plant from pathogens through microbial antagonism. PGPB out-compete pathogens for nutrients and produce antibiotics and anti-fungal metabolites.

PGPB also have the ability to help the plant defend itself from pathogens through Induced Systemic Resistance (ISR). ISR triggers a signal in the plant that activates the plant’s defense system such as reinforcing plant cell walls, producing anti-microbial phytoalexins and synthesizing pathogen-related proteins.

 

PGPB found in Holganix Bio 800+

Holganix Bio 800+ is our product line of plant probiotics containing over 800 species of beneficial microorganisms, microbe food and nutrient enhancers to promote optimal plant health with less fertilizers, pesticides and water needed.

One of the important ingredients in Holganix Bio 800+ is PGPB. In order to ensure that each batch is teeming with PGPB, Holganix uses DNA fingerprinting as a critical function to its manufacturing process.

Watch our video below to learn more about Holganix Bio 800+. If you are reading this blog via email, click here to access the video. 

 

What's in the Holganix Bio 800+ jug?  Check out our ingredient list!

Tags: the science behind holganix, lawn care, golf course, agriculture

Top 5 Favorite Articles on Soil Microbes

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At Holganix, we are self-appointed soil geeks. Learning about new trends, research and theories that are happening in the field make us tick. We bet it gets you excited too! Here are our top 5 favorite articles on soil microbes (to be fair, some are videos).

 

Healthy Soil Microbes, Healthy People

The Atlantic Magazine reports that the microbial community in the ground is as important as the one in human guts. According to the Atlantic Magazine, “The greatest leverage point for a sustainable and healthy future for the several billion people on the planet is arguably immediately underfoot: the living soil, where we grow our food.”

Read Healthy Soil Microbes, Healthy People by Atlantic Magazine: https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2013/06/healthy-soil-microbes-healthy-people/276710/

 

Microbes Help Grow Better Crops

Scientific American explores research from Virginia to Colombia that has been conducted on microbes to boost plant health and crop yield. “Microbes act as sentinels of food safety and furnish an environmentally sound alternative to massive inputs of fertilizers and pesticides,” says Scientific American.

Check out Microbes Help Grow Better Crops by Scientific America: https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/microbes-help-grow-better-crops/  

 

The Soil Biology Primer

Consider this short read the "Bible of Soil Science". Written by Dr. Elaine Ingham – the godmother of the soil food web, in partnership with the USDA, The Soil Biology Primer introduces soil health and soil biology and how it contributes to agricultural productivity and environmental sustainability.

Access The Soil Biology Primer PDF Version by Dr. Elaine Ingham: https://books.google.com/books/about/Soil_Biology_Primer.html?id=AgQUAAAAYAAJ

 

Healthy Soil, Healthy World

If you pick up a handful of soil, you will be holding more microorganisms in your hand than the entire number of people who have ever lived on earth. Think about that for a moment. Can you imagine the quantity of living things in your grasp? The soil is FULL of life. In this TED Talk, you’ll have the opportunity to explore the soil from the microorganisms’ point of view.

Watch Healthy Soil, Healthy World from TEDx: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zTgH16omrJg

 

Modern Marvel’s: Fertilizer

While not an article, this TV series from the History Channel digs into fertilizer. From synthetic N-P-K to sewage-based solutions to vermicomposting and compost, Modern Marvels provides both an entertaining and factual documentary on fertilizer and the history of growing plants.

Hint: If you don’t have a subscription, you can stream the video online for $1.99 on Amazon.

View Modern Marvels: Fertilizer on the History Channel: http://www.history.com/shows/modern-marvels/season-13/episode-19

Purchase the episode on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Fertilizer/dp/B0050WFI2S/ref=sr_1_fkmr0_1

 

soil food web

Tags: the science behind holganix, agriculture, lawn care, golf course, sports turf, horticulture, greenhouses

What is the Soil Food Web?

Within the soil exists a complex balance between the soil microorganisms and larger organisms such as earthworms, insects, small vertebrates and plants. All of these organisms live all or part of their lives in the soil.

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Soil Food Web Diagram from the USDA 

To steal a line from Walt Disney’s The Lion King, it’s the circle of life! The larger organisms consume smaller organisms; those smaller organisms consume even smaller organisms and so on. When complete, the soil food web nurtures healthy plants, healthy habitats for those plants and an overall healthier environment with less pollutants. When the soil food web is out of balance, plant health is compromised.

 

 

 

What are soil microorganisms and why are they important to plant health?

Soil is abundant with living microorganisms including bacteria, fungi, actinomycetes, protozoa, algae and nematodes. Of the microorganisms present in most soils, roughly 95% of the total population is bacteria.

These microorganisms carry out important functions in the soil to nurture plant health including but not limited to: converting and releasing nutrients (plant food) to the plant; promoting plant tolerance from stress including weather, disease and traffic; fighting pathogens in the soil; and stimulating plant growth.

  

Reducing inputs when using microbial products

New products that contain microorganisms have been gathering market support. Turf professionals, horticulturists and farmers report needing less fertilizers and pesticides when using microbial products in combination with their traditional fertility program.

One example is Broken Sound Country Club in Boca Raton, Florida. Shannon Easter, Director of Golf Maintenance, has reduced fungicide use by 30% and fertilizer by 20% when using Holganix Bio 800+ in combination with his fertility program.

Holganix Bio 800+ is a microbial or plant probiotic containing more than 800 species of active microorganisms to nourish plant health.

Jimmy Cox of Picture Perfect Lawn Maintenance has reduced fertilizer use by nearly 50% with Bio 800+. Jimmy is using 2.2 pounds of nitrogen, down from his usual 4 pounds annually.

 soil food web

Tags: the science behind holganix, golf course, lawn care, agriculture