The Holganix Blog

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

4 Problems Facing Trees & Shrubs In Summer

4 Tennessee Lawn Care Companies (3)

The heat and lack of water typical for summers in the U.S. places trees and shrubs under a lot of pressure. We interviewed horticulturist, Ed Kapryn and Director of Plant Soil Science, Robert Neidermyer Ph.D. (Dr. Bob) on the top 4 problems facing tree and shrubs in the summer and solutions to help overcome summer problems.

 

Problem #1 - Watch Out For Disease and Insect Problems!

“The combination of rising temperatures and water often means disease and/or insect activity is nearby,” explains Ed. “Check the branch, trunk and foliage of your trees and shrubs, especially under the leaf. If you see orange, yellow or brown spotting, you may have a fungal disease or insect activity.” Leaf spot diseases can interrupt photosynthesis and may lead to leaf loss, that is also where a lot of insects like to hide before they start doing major damage (i.e. lace bug, aphids, etc).

"Plus, there has been a lot of rain this past spring in the country that could lead to big disease problems," explains Ed.

According to Ed, “I’m hearing a lot about crape myrtle bark scale (CMBS) at the moment especially in the Southeast and Texas.” Check foliage and bark for tell-tale insect signs like bite marks, holes, white spots and sticky surfaces.

The below image is of CMBS from Clemson University Cooperative Extension.

crape myrtle bark scale

 

Solution # 1

Combining Holganix Bio 800+ Tree & Shrub with a systemic insecticide will help contractors fight insects. Holganix Bio 800+ Tree & Shrub will improve the plants ability to deal with stress and build a healthy soil ecosystem to combat pathogens.

For insects like CMBS that have a tendency to “lump up on each other”, a systemic insecticide is important to reach insects that are not affected by a topical spray.

When choosing insecticides, Ed recommends contractors be choosey with their options. “Pollinator friendly insecticides like those with a cedar oil or neem oil derivative are the way to go.”


Problem #2 - Overcoming Drought

As summer matures, heat and lack of water will become more of an issue. Check for signs of wilted or curled leaves, yellow leaves and early leaf drop for signs that your trees and shrubs are under-watered.

The below image shows leaves wilting due to summer heat.

 

Solution #2

“If your landscapes have non-drought tolerant plants, be sure you are watering your trees and shrubs 2-to-3 times per week,” explains Dr. Bob. A deeper watering is always going to be more beneficial than more frequent, shallow watering. Whenever possible, try to steer towards drought-friendly plants and native plants in your landscapes.

plant wilts

Problem #3 - Pruners Take Care!

When spring flowering subsides, it’s often time to prune. In much of the country, pruning time is just starting but be careful with how you prune your trees and shrubs.

 

Solution #3

“Don’t hack and wack,” cautions Ed. He recommends hand pruning whenever possible. It's also important that you don't prune away the growing points of next year's flowering stems or wood. While it would be unusual for trees and shrubs to die from over pruning, it does weaken the plant making it more susceptible to insect and disease problems. Also, Ed notes “No flush cuts! And remember to sanitize any pruning equipment to cut down on disease transfer like Dogwood Anthracnose. To sanitize your pruning equipment, spray a 409 or other household disinfectant.” 

“Applying an application of Holganix Bio 800+ Tree & Shrub after a good prune will help the plant heal properly,” explains Dr. Bob. For more information on pruning and How Holganix Bio 800+ Tree & Shrub can help, visit this blog article.


Problem #4 - Installing Landscapes

During installation, trees and shrubs are often stressed as it gets used to its new environment. At times, stress can be so great that the plant will go into shock or potentially die after installation.

plant start

Solution #4

Applying Holganix Bio 800+ Tree & Shrub as a Plant Start Application will ensure the perfect installation. In specific, Holganix Bio 800+ Tree & Shrub will improve the healing process, plant survival, and increase the root architecture. For directions on how to conduct a Holganix Plant Start Application, watch this video.


Plant Health Care Problems Comes Down to Soil

“Most problems facing your plants begin with poor soil, void of the life found in a natural forest environment,” states Dr. Bob. “Healthy soils are teeming with beneficial soil microbes that naturally fortify plant strength from stress caused by disease, insect and drought. Healthy soils also hold water and nutrients longer than poor soils and are porous, allowing plant roots to develop.”

Holganix Bio 800+ Tree & Shrub is focused on building soil health by harnessing the power of over 800 species of soil microbes. Ultimately, using Holganix Bio 800+ Tree & Shrub will build stronger plants, develop root architecture, maximize plant color and offset the need for large amounts of fertilizers and pesticides.

Want to dig in deeper? Check out this video on results seen with Holganix Bio 800+ Tree & Shrub in the field, then click the button below to set up an appointment with a Holganix specialist.

Speak With A Holganix Representative

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

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

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

7 Ways Holganix Bio 800 GROWS Healthier Turf & Ornamentals

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Reader's Note: This blog has been updated & republished from it's original format

Holganix Bio 800+ is an organic plant probiotic that harness the power of over 800 species of soil microbes to optimize soils and grow healthier, more sustainable plants. But, there are a lot of ways Holganix grows healthier turf and plants! Here are our top seven favorite ways Holganix Bio 800+ GROWS healthier turf and plants.

 

1. Holganix Bio 800Balances the Soil Food Web

The Soil Food Web is the circle of life within the soil. The big “Bugs” eat the smaller “Bugs,” and those smaller “Bugs” eat even tinier “Bugs.”

When the soil food web is in balance, soil microbes go to work breaking down nutrients within the soil, fortifying plant health and stimulating plant growth.

The soil microbes in Holganix Bio 800increase the diversity and population counts within the soil food web. If a certain segment or species within the soil food web is weak, adding microbes from Holganix Bio 800will help strengthen that segment.

soil_food_web.pngPhoto above from USDA Natural Resources Conservation Services. http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal/nrcs/detailfull/soils/health/biology/?cid=nrcs142p2_053868  

 

2. Holganix Bio 800Builds Strong Roots

Houses have foundations that support the entire structure.

Plants and turf do too! The roots act as the foundation that supports a healthier overall plant.

When your plants have strong root systems, they are better able to withstand environmental stresses from disease, insects, traffic and weather. A stronger root system with long roots is also able to more effectively mine for nutrients, minerals and moisture within the soil.

improve turf roots

Holganix Bio 800+contains several ingredients that influence root growth, including:

Are users seeing good rooting with Holganix Bio 800+? Most of our customers see a considerable improvement in rooting. Check out the roots submitted on social media above to see some of results.

 

3. Holganix Bio 800Reduces Inputs

When using Holganix Bio 800+, you increase the effectiveness of synthetic inputs like fertilizers and pesticides, allowing you to reduce inputs. That means when you use Holganix Bio 800+, you’re using a greener product that differentiates you from your competitors.

How much can you reduce your inputs? Check out our compatibility list here for rate reductions and recommended components to use with Holganix Bio 800+.

 

4. Holganix Bio 800Increases Water Efficiency

When your plants need less water, you can cut back on irrigation and help survive tough weather conditions like droughts and summer heat. Holganix Bio 800isn’t a drought cure-all, but it can help your plants go into dormancy later and come out of dormancy stronger!

Holganix Bio 800+ affects water efficiency in four ways:

  1. Increases root mass

  2. Allows roots to mine for nutrients

  3. Provides access to water that roots can’t reach alone

  4. Acts as a soil conditioner and wetting agent

One of our favorite stories regarding water reduction is Ed Smith Stadium, the spring training field for the Baltimore Orioles. Check out their story here.

 

5. Holganix Bio 800Increases Stress Tolerance

Because Holganix Bio 800builds stronger roots, your plants are better able to defend against environmental stresses and more easily recover when attacked by disease, insects and weather.

Holganix Bio 800also contains microbes that eat pathogenic microbes and release antibiotics in the soil that defend the plant from harm.

Check out Manada Golf Course in PA, then read their case study here.

manada golf course

 

6. Holganix Bio 800Increases Seed Germination

Thinking about doing a little overseeding? Holganix Bio 800can help with that! Customers that apply HolganixBio 800during seeding see an increase in seed germination rates.

Can you guess which pot was treated with Holganix Bio 800+? This test was conducted by Sam Whitehouse of Whitehouse Lawn and Landscape in PA.

turf seed germination

Seven Holganix Bio 800ingredients enhance seed germination. These seven ingredients are:

  1. Kelp Extract

  2. Mycorrhizae Fungi

  3. Nitrogen-Fixing Bacteria

  4. Trichoderma

  5. Humic and Fulvic Acids

  6. Amino Acids

  7. Plant Growth Promoting Bacteria (PGPB)

 

7. Holganix Bio 800Reduces Transplant Shock

Holganix Bio 800reduces transplant shock by mending a disrupted soil food web, making the plant’s new environment a happy and healthy one! It also builds strong roots so the new plant can better “root” into its new home. And because of specific soil microbes contained in the product, Holganix Bio 800+ increases stress tolerance so your plant is better able to handle the stress of moving into its new home.

 

Want to Learn More?

Learn more about the seven ways Holganix Bio 800grows healthy plants by watching our webinar featuring Holganix’s Director of Plant and Soil Science, Dr. Neidermyer. Then, download our soil food web ebook to learn about the importance of soil health.  

 

soil food web

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

Installing Landscapes? Holganix Plant Start Reduces Transplant Shock, Grows Strong Roots

4 Tennessee Lawn Care Companies (1)-3

Contractors that install plants - whether flowers, trees, shrub, sod or seed - have a challenge on their hands. In essence, they take perfectly healthy plant material from a greenhouse or nursery and install it in dead soil that is common in new subdivisions. The plant suffers from transplant shock and will either struggle to take root and adapt to its new home, or eventually it may die.

Don’t risk new plants! Use Holganix Plant Start applications to ensure your plants thrive. By using the Holganix Plant Start Applications, contractors can expect:

  • Reduce transplant shock
  • Grow strong roots
  • Boost color

 

What is the Holganix Plant Start Application?

Contractors simply water their freshly installed plant in with any Holganix Bio 800+ product and the plant will grow strong roots, that allow the plant to not only survive, but thrive in its new home.

Plant Start

 

Watch Our Video Demonstration

Watch the below below for a demonstration on how to use Holganix Bio 800+ products during plant start applications. If you are reading this blog via email, click here to watch the video. 

 

Download A Copy Of The Plant Start Directions

Click the button below to download your copy of the Plant Start Application directions. Spanish versions of these directions are pending.

Download:  Plant Start Application Directions

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

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

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

Soil Testing: How Do You Do It AND Why?

Soil test

When was the last time you took soil tests at your property? Are your plants looking a little worn out? Are your turf and plants not taking to fertilizer applications?

Soil tests provide the key soil health metrics you need to better prescribe a fertility program for your property.

On a basic level, soil tests indicate nutrient deficiencies and pH levels. However, more advanced soil tests are available that also indicate Cation Exchange Capacity (CEC), soluble salts and other important soil health metrics.

What is each of the soil health metrics you can expect from a soil test, what do they mean and what practices can you put in place to improve results?

 

Measuring key elements to plant growth

According to the University of Minnesota Extension, “There are at least 17 essential elements required for plant growth: carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, calcium, magnesium, sulfur, iron, manganese, zinc, copper, boron, molybdenum, chlorine and nickel.”

While elements like hydrogen, carbon and oxygen are taken from air and water, the remaining elements are derived from the soil. When the soil is lacking in a key element, adding a fertilizer is key.

The three most important nutrients for plant growth include: nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium.

1. Nitrogen is responsible for stimulating strong plant growth and promoting green coloring of foliage (it helps with chlorophyll production). Nitrogen is often present in the soil; however, it may be locked in a form that isn’t utilized by the plant. Adding a fertilizer containing nitrogen will directly supply the nutrient to the plant. You could also add a probiotic containing nitrogen-fixing bacteria that will unlock nitrogen already present in the soil, making them available to the plant.

2. Phosphorus is responsible for assisting with the growth of roots and flowers. It also helps plants withstand environmental stress and harsh winters. Just like with nitrogen, phosphorus is often contained in the soil but may be locked in a form the plant can’t use. Adding a fertilizer containing phosphorus or adding a probiotic containing phosphorus-solubilizing bacteria can increase the supply of available phosphorus.

3. Potassium strengthens plants, contributes to early growth and helps retain water. It also affects the plant’s disease and insect suppression. Adding a fertilizer containing potassium will offset any imbalances in the soil.

>>For information on the six essential nutrients for plant health, read our blog here.

 

Looking at soil pH

Soil pH is a measure of soil acidity. A pH of 7 is neutral; anything below a 7 is acidic and anything above is alkaline.

According to the University of Minnesota Extension, “A soil pH is an important chemical property because it affects the availability of nutrients to plants and the activity of microorganisms in the soil.”

On average, most plants prefer a soil pH between 6.0 and 7.0 and most turf grasses prefer a pH of 5.5 and 6.5. However, pH can differ depending on the plant and turf grass you are growing.

Adding a lime is one common practice to raise the soil pH. Tools that lower pH include but are not limited to: sulfur, iron sulfate, aluminum sulfate, acid sphagnum peat and ammonium sulfate/urea.

 

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.

To increase CEC levels, adding a product with high microbial populations will stimulate the digestion of organic matter, increasing humus levels, which thereby increases CEC levels.

>>Dig deeper into Cation Exchange Capacity and how Holganix boosts CEC levels

 

Soluble salts

Soluble salts are the ions that are dissolved in soil water.

Why are soluble salts important? “High soluble salts can reduce water uptake by plants, restrict root growth, cause burning of the foliage, inhibit flowering, and limit fruit and vegetable yields.” 

Some soils naturally have high soluble salts, however human practices like over fertilizing, pet urine, or using snow salts on sidewalks/streets can all increase soluble salt levels.

To correct soluble salt problems, look at incorporating gypsum and leaching the soil with good quality water.

 

How and where do you conduct soil tests?

Results from soil tests often take a couple weeks and possibly a couple months depending on the test. Most university extensions offer soil testing.

Utilize a sampling tube and take several samples at each location of your property. Look at taking 3-inch to 6-inch deep soil samples. Remember to label each tube with the location from your property from which it was taken.

 

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

10 Inspirational Quotes On Soil

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To help start your morning off on the right foot, we’ve compiled advice from 10 different authorities, philosophers and public figures on soil health and the importance of soil. Flip through the SlideShare for 10 inspiring quotes from people like: Mahatma Gandhi, Charles E. Kellogg, Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

And if you’re feeling especially inspired by these quotes, you can dig in deeper and download our FREE eBook called Soil Science 101 to learn more about the importance of soil.

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


 

1. “Essentially, all life depends upon the soil… There can be no life without soil and no soil without life; they have evolved together.” - Dr. Charles E Kellogg, Soil Scientist and Chief of the USDA’s Bureau for Chemistry and Soils

 

2. “To forget how to dig the earth and to tend the soil is to forget ourselves.” - Mahatma Gandhi, Indian activist

 

3. “How can I stand on the ground every day and not feel its power? How can I live my life stepping on this stuff and not wonder at it?” - William Bryant Logan, Award-winning writer, faculty member at the New York Botanical Garden, and practicing arborist

 

4. “We know more about the movement of celestial bodies than about the soil underfoot.” - Leonardo Da Vinci, Artist and inventor

 

5. “Land is not merely soil, it is a fountain of energy flowing through a circuit of soils, plants and animals.” - Aldo Leopold, Author, philosopher, scientist and conservationist

 

6. “To be a successful farmer one must first know the nature of the soil.” - Xenophon, Ancient greek philosopher and historian, student of Socrates, Circa 430 - 354 BC

 

7. “The nation that destroys its soil, destroys itself.” - Franklin Delano Roosevelt, 32nd President of The United States of America

 

8. “... I cannot conceive of the time when knowledge of soils will be complete. Our expectation is that our successors will build on what has been done, as we are building on the work of our predecessors.” -  R.S. Smith, Director of the Illinois Soil Survey, 1928

 

9. “The farther we get away from the land, the greater our insecurity.” - Henry Ford, Entrepreneur and founder of The Ford Motor Company

 

10. “Keep your eyes on the stars, keep your feet on the ground.” - Theodore Roosevelt Jr, 26th President of the United States of America


Download Our Soil Science eBook

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

Within the natural world, there exists a complex balance among living organisms known as the soil 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. 

Download this book to explore:

1. How the soil food web supports healthy plant

2. The power behind soil microorganisms

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

soil food web

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

6 Fabulous Infographics about Soil Health [INFOGRAPHIC]

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If you're a soil dork like the team here at Holganix, you need to dig into the below six infographics. From plant communication (yes, plants communicate!), soil disease suppressiveness, soil consistency and soil microbes, each infographic describes a unique aspect of soil health and what it means for plant health. 

 

1. Hidden Half Of Plants: Developing More Robust and Sustainable Crops

This infographic tells the story of how the soil rhizosphere - the soil surrounding the roots - functions to promote plant health. It also discusses how roots interact with one another - communicating with other roots and microbes to cycle nutrients and respond to stress.

>>Source: Donald Danforth Plant Science Center

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2. A Soil Health Strategy And Its Interaction With Soil

Created by the European Commission for Agriculture and Innovation, this infographic describes the unique relationship between soil health and soil borne disease. According to the European Commission, there are three key factors influencing soil borne disease:

1. Soil life, biodiversity

2. Soil structure

3. Chemical status, fertilization

>>Source European Commission For Agriculture and Innovation

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3. The Soil Food Web

This infographic is a classic and Holganix fans know it well - The Soil Food Web infographic by the National Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) describes the synergistic relationship between organisms within the soil.

>>Source: NRCS

 

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4. Unlock The Secrets In The Soil

According to this infographic by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), “healthy soil is key to feeding 9 billion people by 2050.” The infographic describes how soil is made of about 45% minerals, 25% water, 5% organic matter and 25% air. Plus, it gives tons of cool facts about the life beneath the soil’s surface!

For example, did you know healthy soil “has amazing water-retention capacity. Every 1% increase in organic matter results in as much as 25,000 gallons of available water per acre.” Or, that “all of the soil microbes in 1 ac/ft of soil weighs more than 2 cows!”

>>Source USDA

 

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5. Soils Are The Foundation For Vegetation

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) released this infographic when the United Nations named 2015 the “International Year Of Soil”. In this infographic, the FAO describes soil’s relationship with:

1. Crops

2. Pasture

3. Forests

>>Source FAO

 

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6. How Does Holganix Bio 800+ Work?

That’s right - we are very biased when it comes to infographics, our own infographic just HAD to make the list too! In this infographic, we discuss how Holganix Bio 800+ harnesses the power of over 800 soil microbes to:

  1. Stimulate healthy growth in foliage and roots

  2. Convert and release nutrients to the plant

  3. Promote the plant’s tolerance from stress, including weather, disease and traffic

  4. Balance the soil ecosystem, providing a healthy habitat for a healthy plant

Want to dig in deeper? Check out our Holganix Bio 800+ product line!

Holganix Holganix Bio 800+ Works

soil food web

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