The Holganix Blog

Holganix "Roots" For Row Crops [InfoGraphic]

row crop farmers

There’s a reason why our tagline at Holganix is “Root Stimulating, Soil Nourishing”! Holganix Bio 800+ Agriculture harnesses the power of soil microbes to build healthy soils and healthy root growth. Healthy root growth leads to stronger, more productive crops that yield better results! 

In this blog, we dive into (1) recent winners of our Holganix Roots For You competition to discover the best Holganix-grown crop roots and (2) two ways Holganix Bio 800+ Agriculture stimulates root growth.

 

Holganix Roots For You Winners

Check out our infographic below showing off eight photos submitted by Holganix farmers. Each farmer applied Holganix Bio 800+ Agriculture at a rate of 0.5 gallons per acre at or as close to planting as possible. 

Holganix Roots For You Infographic

 

2 Ways Holganix Bio 800+ Agriculture Builds Root Development

1. Plant Growth Promoting Bacteria - Holganix Bio 800+ contains Plant Growth Promoting Bacteria (PGPB) that occupy the rhizosphere (root zone) of the plant and have the ability to promote plant growth and plant defense. 

>>Learn more about Plant Growth Promoting Bacteria

2. Endo and Ecto Mycorrhizae - Holganix Bio 800+ contains Endo and Ecto Mycorrhizae is a beneficial soil fungus that works in conjunction with plant roots. The fungi and the plant roots form a mutualistic relationship whereby the plant produces sugars through photosynthesis and exudes them out of the roots for mycorrhizae and other beneficial soil microbes to consume. In turn, the mycorrhizae bring water and nutrients to the roots from distances the root cannot reach.

>>Learn more about Mycorrhizae


Dig Into The Data: University And Commercial Grower Trials
Over the past four years, we have been compiling data on several different crops in different geographic zones to deepen our understanding of how Holganix Bio 800+ Agriculture can help farmers maximize crops. Click the button below to access a sample from our 2017 and 2018 collection.

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Tags: reviews, holganix reviews, holganix review, farmer

Digging Into Soil Health With Dr. Stark [Video]

Soil Health

“Over the first three decades of my career, we didn’t think about soil much,” admits Dave Stark Ph.D. molecular biologist and biochemist. Dave, originally from Monsanto, is the President of Agriculture at Holganix LLC. “At the time, scientists thought a lot about the genetics or the seed we put in the soil and how to help protect and grow the plant. But, we didn’t think much about the soil.” 

Fortunately, that mindset is changing! Today, there is a lot of awareness about what makes healthy soil and which practices and environmental stressors make poor soil.  

When we have healthy, nutrient-rich soils, it is teeming with beneficial soil microbes. “It is the interaction between the soil microbes and the roots, that creates healthy soil,” explains Dr. Stark.

The importance of microbes was stated best in The Biodiversity of Microorganisms and Invertebrates: Its Role In Sustainable Agriculture, “When devoid of its biota [the microbes!] the uppermost layer of earth ceases to be soil.” 

 

Feeding The Microbes Is A Start... But Adding Soil Microbes Is Key

Today, we hear more conversation about what farmers and turf managers are doing to build and feed the microbes in the soil. They are reducing their tillage, adding cover crops, applying products like biochar, humic acid, and sugar products.

“These are good practices that help feed the microbes,” explains Dr. Stark. “But, feeding the microbes is just half of the equation. Feeding the microbes assumes that the soil microbes we need to nurture plant health are already in the soil. And often, that is not the case.” 

In reality, weather and some management practices disrupt or even destroy beneficial soil microbes. For example, when we spray fumigants or fungicides, or when we over-apply nutrients like nitrogen, we can disrupt and even kill beneficial soil microbes. Also, things like winter, freezing and flooding damages beneficial soil microbe levels. 

 

When It Comes To Soil Microbes, Go For Diversity

So, feeding the microbes is one half of the equation; the other half of the equation is adding diverse, soil microbes to the soil.

Every type of microbe plays a role in the soil. From bacteria that degrade plant material and hold nutrients in the soil, to fungi that solubilize nutrients, signal the plant’s defenses during stress and break down material, to protozoa and other types of fungi that consume bacteria and secrete nitrogen in plant-usable forms, microbes are the soils’ workers. 

And, since every type of microbe is important, the diversity of microbes is also really important. “If you are evaluating different microbial products,” cautions Dr. Stark. “Go for diversity.” 

Ultimately, with over 800 species of soil microbes present, Holganix Bio 800+ products deliver the diversity your soils require. At the end of the day, Holganix Bio 800+ provides an increased yield for farmers, and increased plant resilience and reduction of fertilizer for turf professionals. 

>> Learn more about Holganix Bio 800+ products here

 

Watch Our 25-Minute Presentation On Soil Health

Want to dig deeper into soil? Watch Dr. Stark’s 25-minute presentation where he will cover: the importance of soil health and how to build soil health. 

 

Tags: the science behind holganix, golf course, farmer

Holganix: Plant Probiotics That Grow Strong Crops, from the Ground Up

Plant Probiotics

A special thank you to Holganix partner, iSelect Fund for featuring us in their webinar series featuring disruptive technologies. 

Food demand is on track to double by 2050, demand for organic food is growing significantly faster than the acreage to produce it, and yet the world has lost a third of all arable land in the last 40 years due to erosion and pollution damage. Farmers today are struggling to cost-effectively meet these increasing demands, in a world where water, fertilizer and other chemical usage is becoming increasingly expensive and regulated.

Learn how one company is working to help farmers meet this demand while saving money at “Plant Probiotics That Grow Strong Crops, from the Ground Up,” a webinar featuring Dr. David Stark, President of Holganix.

Holganix’s plant probiotics increase crop yields while simultaneously reducing the need for water, fertilizer and chemical inputs. With Holganix, farmers can effectively cut their costs while producing more plentiful, natural foods.

Click the link below to watch the webinar! 

Watch Our Webinar: Plant Probiotics

Tags: the science behind holganix, farmer

Case Study: Nurturing Stronger Plants & Building Healthier Soils

healthy soils

“There’s something really special about working with our students in our edible garden project,” explains Kim Hisler, Patton Middle School’s Family and Consumer Science teacher. “It’s one thing to explain nutrition and plant growth stages to a child from a textbook - but to truly show the students and work with the students in the soil and watch these fresh vegetables grow - that’s a completely different level of learning. In fact, hands-on education or experimental education is especially meaningful for middle-school aged children.” 

Kim runs Patton’s edible garden project, an initiative that grows fresh produce for community members in need while introducing and expanding the students understanding of science, nutrition and healthy eating habits. Patton’s garden project encompasses three tunnels and 22 raised beds. Some of the vegetables are also grown hydroponically and aeroponically.

“We grow spinach, peas, kale, cabbage, lettuce, bok choi, swiss chard, radish, beets, broccoli, cauliflower, scallions, potatoes, onions, kohlrabi, turnips and herbs as our cool season crops, plus all of the warm-season crops,” states Kim.   

In the past, Kim would add fresh compost to the garden beds before planting but had never applied any fertilizer or other inputs. “Each year we would have various diseases and pests, but it was important to the school and health of the students that we didn’t use pesticides,” notes Kim. “Instead, we took an approach where we build soil health through compost in order to care for the crops. We also usually sacrifice one or two crops to bugs so the other crops thrive.”   

This year, Kim ran into difficulties getting the compost and wasn’t able to top her beds off. “Early on, I could tell my soil quality wasn’t the best and I was really worried about running into a lot of problems with soil health in our beds.

Plus I was about ready to give up on our hydroponics altogether -  the lettuce was really deficient in nutrients with zero growth over a span of a few weeks.”

Then, in late April Kim started using Holganix Bio 800+ Bloom on the crops, which had been donated by Holganix.

community garden

“I added the Holganix Bio 800+ Bloom and some Holganix nutrient products to the hydroponics and literally within a few days the color and growth of lettuce looked amazing,” explains Kim. “I have been growing lettuce at the school for ten years now and everyone is saying this harvest of lettuce is the best tasting I have ever grown,” Kim assures that from now on, adding Holganix products will be her new method of growing hydroponically or aeroponically.

In addition to the hydroponics, Kim has used Holganix Bio 800+ Bloom on the raised beds. “The raised beds also look very healthy, without any pests or disease problems which are rare especially with all of the rain we have had!”

According to Kim, “I am really excited to try the Holganix Bio 800+ Bloom with our summer crops, especially our tomatoes! I’m hoping that the microbes in Holganix will help build our soil and plant health to help combat the blossom end rot we typically see.”

Holganix Bio 800+ Bloom is designed to build healthy soils and strong plants by harnessing the power of over 800 species of soil microbes. Farmers using our Bio 800+ products are seeing increased crop yields, stronger root systems and more resilient plants that are better able to withstand the stresses caused by disease or weather.

 

Dig Into The Data: University and Commercial Grower Trials

Over the past four years, we have been compiling data on several different crops in different geographic zones to deepen our understanding of how Holganix Bio 800+ can help farmers maximize crops. Click the button below to access a sample from our 2017 and 2018 collection.

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Tags: holganix reviews, holganix review, farmer

Wet Spring Driving Soil Compaction Issues: What You Need To Know

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Across the country, but especially in the midwest, wet conditions are leading to soil compaction problems for farmers and turf professionals. Compaction can always be an issue in poor soil types, but when combined with wet conditions, soils compact more easily, even good soils.

 

Why Does Soil Compaction Matter?

Healthy soils have pockets of air for microbes and roots to breathe, also allowing plant roots to drive deeper into the soil. Compact and wet soils can lessen the roots’ abilities to grow, further, the lack of airflow can make soils go anaerobic.

Anaerobic soils are teeming with anaerobic microbes that need little-to-no air to exist. While some anaerobic microbes can be beneficial or neutral, many can cause diseases. Anaerobic microbes actively kill aerobic microbes (microbes that need air) and can lead to denitrification, or the loss of nitrogen in the soil. Aerobic microbes are responsible for cycling nutrients, protecting roots and building soil. That means anaerobic soils cause big problems for crop yield and turf color!

>>Learn more about aerobic and anaerobic microbes


How Does Holganix Bio 800+ Help?

Holganix Bio 800+ products are teeming with beneficial soil microbes that improve soil health and root development for all plants. For farmers, Bio 800+ improves yield and crop resilience during stressful conditions. For turf professionals, Bio 800+ is a tool to reduce the amount of fertilizers and pesticides needed to grow green, thick turf.

But, Holganix Bio 800+ can also fight the effects of compaction in two key ways:

1. By promoting deeper, more extensive roots that break up compaction layers, allowing air to penetrate deeper into the soil.

2. By adding back the beneficial aerobic microbes to restore healthy soil function.

>>Learn more about how Holganix Bio 800+ products can help improve crop and turf performance


What’s The Dirt On Soil Health?

Digging into Soil Science 101: Beginners Guide to Understanding the Soil Food Web eBook

We know healthy soils are important, especially when faced with the threat of a wet spring. But, how do soils work? And, what does healthy soil look like? Dig deeper into soil science by downloading our FREE eBook by Holganix Director of Soil and Plant Science, Dr. Robert Neidermyer.

Download our eBook to explore:

1. How the soil food web supports healthy plants

2. The power behind soil microbes and what they do to build resilient plants

3. Soil types and how to improve the health of your soil

soil food web

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

Holganix Case Study: Taylor Petsinger On Protecting Crop Yield & Growing Roots

Soybean Yield

On June 8, Taylor Petsinger of Arvilla, North Dakota surveyed 160 acres of young, healthy soybeans. He had planted them on May 12, just under a month ago and had been looking forward to a calm, successful season. Little did he know that Mother Nature had another plan. In just 48 short hours she dumped an inch of rain accompanied by crop-destroying hail. His once-promising soybean crop was gone.

Would most guys quit, and file an insurance claim.. maybe, but not Taylor. Five days later, he replanted his beans. “During a normal season we usually see a 45-bushel per acre average,” explains Taylor. “But because of the late planting, we expected a 15-bushel loss.”

Shortly after planting, Taylor applied Holganix Bio 800+ Agriculture to give the crop an extra push to develop roots. “We applied the product at 0.5 gallons per acre rate on June 20th, just before emergence,” explains Taylor. “Pretty quickly we started noticing a difference in the rooting between our Holganix crop and the control.”

In fact, just before flowering, Taylor decided to check on the root development. Since he didn't have a shovel handy, he pulled the crops like weeds. The Bio 800+ treated roots were stronger, with more development compared to the control.

See the root comparison photo below; the left crop was treated with Holganix Bio 800+ and the right acted as the control.

soy bean

Taylor went back to check on them just after flowering. The Bio 800+ treated tap root broke the hardpan and went eight inches deep in the soil. On the other hand, the control’s tap root curled and stayed level with the depth of the seed, about two inches deep. In the event of a drought, roots as shallow as the control’s would not last long.

Soybean roots

Even though Taylor knew that planting soybeans this late increased the likelihood that snow would fly before harvest, he rolled the dice. But yet again Mother Nature threw Taylor a curveball. This time, she dumped 11 inches of snow on the field just before harvest. According to his agronomist, the snow accounted for an 8-to-12 bushel per acre loss.

Despite it all, Taylor reported seeing a 33 bushel per acre average - well ahead of his forecasted loss, with beans weighing 57 pounds per bushel and a moisture of 12%.

Why did Taylor see a better than expected yield? According to Taylor, he attributes the yield to Holganix Bio 800Agriculture.

 

How does Holganix Bio 800+ Protect Your Yield?

There are two key benefits to using Holganix Bio 800+ Agriculture during a short planting season.

(1) Holganix Bio 800+ develops a deep, extensive root system, quickly. The faster you develop an extensive root system, the faster your crop can catch up to the development it usually sees under normal conditions.

(2) Holganix Bio 800+ replenishes soils with microbes during wet conditions. When soil microbe populations are depleted, nutrient cycling declines and pathogens can become more problematic. Holganix Bio 800+ contains over 800 species of beneficial soil microbes and when applied to the soil, replenishes critical microbe populations.

Check out our infographic below-showing comparison photos of farmers dealing with short growing seasons and quick establishment. 

Row crop short growing season

 

Dig into the data: University and commercial grower trials

Over the past four years, we have been compiling data on several different crops in different geographic zones to deepen our understanding of how Holganix Bio 800+ Agriculture can help farmers maximize crops. Click the button below to access a sample from our 2017 and 2018 collection.

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Tags: holganix reviews, holganix review, farmer

25 Reasons To Be Grateful For Soil: Why Soil Is Important [SlideShare]

Soil Health

This Earth Day, our team takes a few minutes to pause and reflect on why we are grateful for soils, and specifically why healthy soils are so crucial to our future - whether or not you are in the agriculture and turfgrass industries.

Check out our SlideShare on the 25 Reasons To Be Grateful For Soil below. Or, skip the SlideShare and keep scrolling to skim through our bullets.

If you are reading this blog via email, click here to view the SlideShare

 

1. Soil is the backbone of our food security. Without healthy soils, farmers wouldn’t be able to provide us with feed, fiber, food, and fuel.

2. Just like how a foundation for a home is critical, healthy soils act as a foundation for plants by supporting plant roots and keeping plants upright for growth.

3. Soils act as a pantry for plants, storing and cycling essential nutrients and minerals that plants need to grow.

4. Soils store water for plants. In fact, according to the USDA, “every 1% increase in organic matter results in as much as 25,000 gallons of available soil water per acre.” That’s a lot of water!

5. Soils maintain adequate aeration for plants, providing oxygen for microbes, insects and plant roots.

6. Soils are habitats for beneficial soil microbes; these organisms are nature’s hidden helpers. They form synergistic relationships with plants to protect them from stress and provide them with nutrients, among other tasks. According to the USDA, “one teaspoon of healthy soil contains, 100 million-to-1 billion individual bacteria alone.”

7. Soils are homes for many other organisms like insects that lay and hatch eggs in the soil.

8. Soils filter surface water of dust, chemicals and other contaminants. This is why underground water is some of the cleanest sources of water. In fact, according to Soils.Org, “through natural processes, such as soil absorption, chemical filtration, and nutrient cycle, the Catskill Watershed provides New York City with clean water at a cost of $1-to1.5 billion, much less than the $6-to-8 billion one-time cost of constructing a water filtration plant.”

9. Healthy soils help protect the plant from climate change. According to Columbia University’s Earth Institute, “soils remove about 25 percent of the world’s fossil fuel emissions each year.

10. Healthy soils provide farmers with better crop yields and protect plants from stress.

11. When it comes to human health, almost all of the antibiotics we take to help fight infection were obtained by soil microbes.

12. Healthy soils protect the land from erosion.  

13. Soil is a nonrenewable natural resource. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), it can take hundreds to thousands of years to form a centimeter of soil. But, that single centimeter of soil can be lost in a single year due to erosion.

14. 11% of the total U.S. employment works in the agricultural and food sectors - that’s 2.16 million full- and part-time people working on our soils each day.

15. Soil is made up of 45% minerals, 25% water, 5% organic matter and 25% air.

16. Soil acts as a holding facility for solid waste.

17. Soils help regulate the Earth’s temperature.

18. Healthy soils mitigate the impacts of extreme weather events.

19. Archeologists have determined that many sophisticated civilizations such as the Mayans and the Harappan, fell because they mismanaged their soils.

20. According to Soils.Org, “about 70% of the weight of a textbook or glossy paged magazine is soil”

21. Putting clay soil on your face as a “mud mask” cleanses the skin’s pores.

22. According to the World Future Council, “soils help control weeds, plant pests, and disease.”

23. The best china dishes are made from soil.

24. Soil is the foundation of our buildings, roads, houses, and schools. In fact, soil affects how buildings are made.

25. Soil holds Earth’s history, containing artifacts - from dinosaurs to ancient human civilizations - from our Earth’s past. There’s a lot of history stored in soils!


Why Soil Health Matters @ Holganix

At Holganix we revolutionize the way the world grows by harnessing the power of soil microbes. In fact, our flagship product Holganix Bio 800+ contains over 800 species of beneficial soil microbes, that work to build soil and plant health naturally. Our products are used by farmers to increase crop yields and by landscapers and golf courses to reduce their need for fertilizer and pesticides. It’s official, SOIL MATTERS!


What’s The Dirt on Soil Science?

Digging into Soil Science 101: Beginners Guide to Understanding the Soil Food Web eBook

We know soils are important and we know why we should be grateful for healthy soils. But, how do soils work? And, what does healthy soil look like? Dig deeper into soil science by downloading our FREE eBook by Holganix Director of Soil and Plant Science, Dr. Robert Neidermyer.

Download our eBook to explore:

1. How the soil food web supports healthy crops

2. The power behind soil microbes and what they do to build resilient crops

3. Soil types and how to improve the health of your soil

soil food web

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

Soybean Cyst Nematodes: What You Need To Know [INFOGRAPHIC]

NEMATODES

A silent predator, soybean cyst nematode (SCN) leads to an estimated $1 billion worth of yield loss in the U.S. each year. With planting season drawing closer, it’s important to keep the threat of Soybean cyst nematodes under consideration.

Check out our infographic on the threat of soybean cyst nematodes and how your farm can proactively battle SCN in the field. Or, skip the infographic and scroll to the bottom to read the article in more depth.

Soybean cyst nematode infographic

What Are Soybean Cyst Nematodes?

SCN are microscopic roundworms that attack soybean roots and other plants. Juvenile worms burrow into soybean roots to feed and develop. While feeding, the SCN damages roots by stealing water and nutrients. This can lead to stunted growth and reduced yields. In addition, punctures from the SCN can allow disease to enter the roots, furthering yield problems.

If the SCN is female, she has the potential to lay 200 or more eggs after her death, potentially leading to an infestation if the problem isn’t curbed.

There can be visible signs of SCN, but they are also silent killers. In fact, 15-to-30% yield loss can occur without any visual above ground differences.


Which Farms Are Under Threat?

According to AgWeb.com “Farmers in the “I” states and other areas with known SCN populations should actively manage the pest because its developing resistance to certain genetics. However, states, where SCN is a new problem, face challenges, too.” Fields or sections of fields that have high pH levels and standing water, can often have a greater threat than other fields. North Dakota State University Nematologist, Sam Merkell reports, “pH is more important than soil texture, but sandy soils can show more symptoms of nematode damage if the plant is water stressed.”


Be Proactive With Soybean Cyst Nematodes

According to the SCN Coalition, avoiding tight rotations and using SCN soybean resistant varieties are all proactive ways to fight the threat of SCN. In addition, conducting soil tests before planting and manually digging roots to check for tell-tale cysts, can all help.

Further, improving soil health, especially the presence of beneficial soil microbes, leads to the development of suppressive soils. Suppressive soils are those where soil-borne pathogens do little or no damage to the crop largely due to competition and predation by beneficial soil microbes. Improving soil health also helps by building a strong root system and by improving the crop's resilience against stressors, ultimately building healthier plants that better resist yield loss due to SCN.


New Tools To Battle Soybean Cyst Nematodes

Sometimes even the most proactive farmers have to pull out nematicides to battle SCN outbreaks. Holganix is currently developing a bionematicide that harnesses the power of soil microbes to fight juvenile SCN. While studies are still ongoing, preliminary results have shown a 75% reduction in pathogenic nematodes with Holganix technology in a lab setting and a 80% reduction in pathogenic nematodes in a field setting.

“We are excited about the opportunity with this technology,” explains Holganix President of Agriculture, David Stark Ph.D.

>>Learn more about our preliminary results by visiting this blog

Tags: the science behind holganix, agriculture, farmer

Late Spring Season? 2 Ways Holganix Helps Corn and Soy Growers

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Across the corn and soy belt, weather forecasts point to a late spring. We have had bitterly cold weather in some regions, and in others, we have had rain and flooding; for many, field work to prep for planting has been delayed.

Once conditions dry, it will be a mad dash to get crops planted. When we are faced with conditions like these - a shortened growing season with rough weather conditions - using Bio 800+ Agriculture becomes paramount for farmers looking to maximize their crop. In fact, there are two key benefits to using Holganix Bio 800+ Agriculture during these conditions.


1. Developing a deep extensive root system, quickly

When the season turns from spring to summer in a short period of time, getting roots established is key so the crop can withstand the dry, hot periods that are sure to follow. The faster you can develop an extensive root system, the faster your crop can catch up to the development it usually sees under ordinary circumstances.

Microbes in Holganix Bio 800+ like mycorrhizae fungi, and plant growth promoting bacteria focus on developing a strong, web-like root system as quickly as possible for the crop.

>>Learn more about End and Ecto- Mycorrhizae

>>Learn more about Plant Growth Promoting Bacteria


2. Replenishing soils with microbes during flooding/wet conditions

Ground that is saturated with water will become anaerobic or very low in oxygen, so the beneficial, aerobic microbes drown and their populations decline rapidly. Tilling or leveling ground damaged by last year’s harvest, winter weather and floods also kills microbes, particularly beneficial fungi. The drop in aerobic, beneficial microbes not only opens the door to microbial pathogens which don’t require oxygen, but further nutrient cycling will decline since this process is dependent on beneficial microbes. This means nutrients in cover crops, plant debris, manure and even synthetic fertilizer will be less available to the new crop.

Holganix Bio 800+ Agriculture contains over 800 species of beneficial soil microbes and when applied to soils, replenishes critical aerobic soil microbe populations that are harmed during wet conditions and necessary field repairs.

>>Learn more about our microbes by downloading our ingredient list


Improving crop yield and soil health is just the start…

Not only does Holganix Bio 800+ Agriculture improve crop yield and soil health, but it also plays a huge role in helping farmers overcome challenges associated with a shorter planting season and rough weather conditions.

At Holganix, we talk a lot about the importance of soil health and all of the long-term benefits improved soil health can mean for your farm. While Holganix Bio 800+ Agriculture should be the foundation for that sort of program, using the product provides more than just long-term benefits; the microbes in Bio 800+ can help farmers today, in the short term, especially during tough weather conditions.

 

Check out our university and commercial grower trials

Over the past four years, we have been compiling data on several different crops in different geographic zones to deepen our understanding of how Holganix Bio 800+ Agriculture can help farmers maximize crops. Click the button below to access a sample from our 2017 and 2018 collection.

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Tags: the science behind holganix, agriculture, farmer

10 Soil Health Terms Explained In Simple English!

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Soil health has become an important benchmark for all growers - regardless of whether you are growing corn, berries, turfgrass or ornamental trees and shrubs. Yet for many, soil health definitions and terms are new and confusing! In this blog, we focus on providing simple and concise explanations for 10 key soil health terms.

To “short-cut” the article, you can select any term you would like to explore using the list below.

>> Soil Structure >> Soil Degradation
>> The Soil Food Web >> Soil Microbes
>> Beneficial Soil Bacteria >> Beneficial Soil Fungi
>> Cation Exchange Capacity >> Soil Organic Matter
>> Humus >> Regenerative Agriculture


Soil Structure

Soil structure influences water and air movement, soil microbe activity, root growth, and seedling emergence. In short, it is the arrangement of pore spaces and solid soil particles that are glued together by sticky substances created by bacteria and root hairs. Good soil structure has 50% soil particles and 50% pore spaces occupied by air and water.


Soil Degradation

Soil degradation is the decline in soil quality; specifically, it is the decline of the soil’s physical, biological and chemical state. Depending on the severity of degradation, the soil can still be used for crop production. According to the USDA, the “productivity of some lands has declined by 50% due to soil erosion and desertification.”

DegSoilMap

The Intergovernmental Science-Policy found that 75% of our lands are degraded. Their assessment took three years and included more than 100 experts from 45 countries. Check out the image above from GRID Arendal (A center collaborating with the United Nations Environment Program) which demonstrates degraded land worldwide. 

Soil degradation can be caused by improper land use through agriculture, pasture urban or industrial purposes.

>>Looking to learn more about Soil Degradation? Check out the U.N. to combat desertification


The Soil Food Web

Within the natural world there exists a complex balance among living organisms known as the “food web.” Plants, animals, and microorganisms 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.

A healthy soil food web is very similar to the food web we all learned in middle school (see image below from the National Resources Conservation Services).

The Soil Food Web

One of the functions of a healthy soil food web is to hold nutrients in non-leachable forms so they remain in the soil until the plant requires them. The plant triggers the right soil microbes to convert nutrients into forms the plant can uptake (but which are typically very leachable), in exchange the plant provides sugars for the microbes. When the correct ratio of fungi and bacteria to protozoa (prey to predator) is present, the soil pH, structure and nutrient cycling occur at optimum rates, producing the right form of nutrients for the plant when the plant needs them.

>>Watch our 3.5-minute video on the soil food web to learn more


Soil Microbes

Soil microbes recharge soils, that ultimately leads to improved yield, root growth, and crop resilience against stress. Increasing beneficial microbe populations and diversity in the soil is an important component to improving soil health. In fact, it is impossible to build topsoil, soil structure and convert plant and animal debris into nutrients without microbes.

There are 5 types of soil microbes: bacteria, actinomycetes, fungi, protozoa, and nematodes. Each type conducts a unique job to improve soil and plant health.

Growers and turf professionals can increase their soil microbe populations and diversity by:

1. Applying a microbial product like Holganix Bio 800+ - Holganix Bio 800+ harnesses the power of over 800 species of beneficial soil microbes that improve: (1) soil health, (2) plant resilience against stress like disease and traffic, (3) crop yields, (4) root depth and density, and (5) turf professionals can reduce their use of fertilizers and pesticides.

2. Supporting microbes already present in the soil with microbe food - Applying sugars, using compost, reducing your tillage and incorporating cover crops are all ways to feed the microbes already present in your soil, or those you apply to your soil through microbial products. However, deep freezes, flooding, tillage, and some chemicals can harm the soil’s microbiome, so it’s not just important to support the microbes already present in the soil but to also supply a diverse concentration of microbial species.

>>Check out this 4.5-minute video on the top 5 most interesting soil microbes

 

Beneficial Soil Bacteria

The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), states, “bacteria may well be the most valuable of life forms in the soil.” Beneficial soil microbes are the crucial workforce of soils and are charged with breaking down nutrients and releasing them to the root zone for the plant. Some species like Plant Growth Promoting Rhizobacteria, release plant hormones that encourage plant growth.

>>Check out this 5-minute read on Plant Growth-Promoting Rhizobacteria


Beneficial Soil Fungi

Like bacteria, fungi also live in the root zone and helps make nutrients available to plants. For example, Mycorrhizae fungi facilitate water and nutrient uptake by the roots and plants to provide sugars, amino acids, and other nutrients. Other beneficial soil fungi like Trichoderma help the plant fight disease and improve root growth. 

>>Check out this technical article on the benefits of Mycorrhizae

 

Cation Exchange Capacity

Think of the soil as the pantry for plants, storing the necessary nutrients to feed the plant and ultimately boost plant health. The Cation Exchange Capacity (CEC) is the soil’s ability to maintain and release nutrients to the plant. So, the higher the CEC, the larger the pantry and the more “food” the soil has the ability to store and feed to the plant. 

How can you increase CEC? Check out this blog on how superintendents like Shannon Easter at Broken Sound Golf Club and Matt Boyd at Orchid Island Golf and Country Club, are using Holganix Bio 800+ Golf to drive CEC.

>>Read our case studies on improving CEC


Soil Organic Matter

Soil organic matter (SOM) is made from carbon and once-living plants that are broken down by soil organisms like bacteria, fungi, and earthworms. Soil organisms utilize SOM as food, and when digested, exude nutrients and humus. Once SOM has been efficiently broken down, SOM becomes humus.

Increased SOM in soil promotes improved soil structure, biological activity and an increased ability to hold and release nutrients and water in the soil. Good, healthy soil contains 3 -to-5% SOM. Low SOM is a sign of soil degradation.

So, how can you increase SOM? Combining Holganix Bio 800+ to provide a diverse set of microbes, with practices the feed soil microbes (think no-to-low till, cover crops, compost, etc), will allow you to slowly build SOM.

Check out this blog on how superintendents like Shannon Easter at Broken Sound Golf Club and Matt Boyd at Orchid Island Golf and Country Club, are using Holganix Bio 800+ Golf to improve SOM.

>>Read our case studies on improving SOM


Humus

According to National Geographic, “Humus is a dark, organic material that forms in the soil when plant and animal matter decays.”

When plants drop leaves and other material to the ground, it forms leaf litter. As animals die, their remains contribute to the litter. Over time, the litter decomposes to its most basic chemical elements. These chemical elements “are important nutrients for the soil and organisms that depend on soil for life, such as plants.”

After the litter decomposes, the thick brown or black substance that remains is called humus.

National Geographic states that “Humus contains many useful nutrients for healthy soil. Some experts think humus makes the soil more fertile. Others say humus helps prevent disease in plants and food crops.”

>>Learn more about humus by visiting this National Geographic blog


Regenerative Agriculture

Regenerative agriculture describes farming and grazing practices that focus on regenerating topsoil, allowing farmers to maintain crop yields, improve water retention and nutrient uptake, increase farm profitability, and support biosequestration, among other benefits.

The backbone of regenerative agriculture is a focus on strengthening the health and vitality of farm soil. The key is that regenerative agriculture “Does no harm” to the land, and in fact improves it using technologies to build soil health like compost, recycling waste, limited-to-no-tillage, among other practices.

>>Check out this 5-minute read for more information on the benefits of regenerative agriculture


Are you interested in soil health and want to dig in deeper? Download our Soil Science eBook

Digging Soil Science 101: Beginners Guide to Understanding the Soil Food Web

We know regenerative agriculture and long-term sustainability of farmland hinges on the health of soils. But, how do soils work? And, what does healthy soil look like? Dig deeper into soil science with by downloading our FREE eBook by Holganix Director of Soil and Plant Science, Dr. Robert Neidermyer.

Download our eBook to explore:

1. How the soil food web supports healthy crops

2. The power behind soil microbes and what they do to build resilient crops

3. Soil types and how to improve the health of your soil

soil food web

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