The Holganix Blog

Top 5 Techniques to Improve Sustainability at The Farm


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”:


#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: organic agriculture, agriculture, sustainable agriculture

Increasing Brix Index and Reducing Disease at Star Dairy

organic agriculture

“I don’t sell something unless I’m sure it’s going to work,” explains Gilson Martin, owner of Star Dairy, a Holganix distributor to farmers in Pennsylvania. “We started testing Holganix Agriculture in 2011. We liked what we saw and the rest is history.”

Star Dairy has been selling dairy nutrition, soil fertility products and consulting to predominantly Amish farmers since 1994. Holganix Agriculture has been his first compost-type or bionutritional product he’s carried because traditional compost and compost teas haven’t been economical on a large scale.

“I’ve always been interested in biological products,” says Gilson when we asked why he decided to give Holganix Agriculture a shot.

“I liked the variety of organisms that was in Holganix Agriculture and thought it worth trying out. Any time I can do something other than use a chemical, I’m happy.”

Over all, Gilson’s clients on Holganix programs have seen an increase in plant vigor, yield, brix index and a reduction in disease.


Increasing the Brix Index

After using Holganix Agriculture for one year, Gilson’s clients have seen an 82% average increase in brix index (in % sucrose) in peas, sweet corn, raspberries, strawberries, tomato, watermelon and alfalfa.

Typically, the higher the brix, “the more minerals in the plant and the better the flavor,” explains Gilson. “Also, a higher brix plant should be more disease and insect resistant.” 


"[My customers] don't want to grow tomatoes without Holganix Agriculture!"

Last spring, Dr. Neidermyer, Director of Plant and Soil Science at Holganix, reached out to Gilson to create a Holganix test on tomatoes.

“I discussed the idea with my farmers that grew tomatoes but no one was interested in doing a test that involved a control! That’s because they knew that without Holganix Agriculture, the control tomatoes were going to be of lesser yield and brix as well as see an increase in disease. They don’t want to grow tomatoes without Holganix Agriculture!”

Gilson explains that with Holganix agirculture, “I’ve seen results in six months. You won’t see instant results but you are going to grow better, healthier crops!” 


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

Tags: organic agriculture, holganix reviews, organic fertilizer, agriculture, compost tea, holganix review, compost, brix index, farmer

What is agriculture?

“Ag is…” Agriculture means so many different things to so many different people. But, when Yield Lab Group blogger, Stephen Fairbanks asked Holganix Director of Plant and Soil Sciences, Dr. Robert Neidermyer to complete the sentence, “Ag is,” Dr. Bob had a philosophical response. “Ag is doing the right thing for the next generation,” says Dr. Bob. “We need to put the right balance back in the soil.”


It’s no surprise he’s alluding to Holganix and other bionutritional products as the answer. “Holganix is biology in a can,” states Dr. Bob. “It’s a probiotic.” Just like in human health, adding probiotics to a plant fertility program can have big payoffs. Probiotics are products that add beneficial microorganisms back to the soil. By adding beneficial microorganisms, Holganix puts the soil food web back in balance, naturally boosting plant health and reducing the need for synthetic inputs by up to 75%.

With fertilizer and pesticide reduction mandates existing and pending on both the federal and state level, high costs of inputs, in addition to the threat of nutrient run off into waterways, “it’s bound to be given serious consideration by farmers,” says Yield Lab.

The Yield Lab Group is an Ag Tech focused business accelerator based in St. Louis. It has selected Holganix to be among the first group of six companies for The Yield Lab program and investment. In addition to funding the businesses chosen to participate in the accelerator, The Yield Lab pairs companies with mentors in the Ag Tech space and works with the companies to succeed in their chosen field. “It’s been invaluable to our agricultural segment at Holganix,” says Dr. Bob. “It’s helping us structure how to best get the product into the hands of farmers and understand just how powerful Holganix can be for their crop production program.”

“With the attention being paid to nutrient management today, and given Holganix’ early success during their first five years in operation,” says Yield Lab, “their potential market impact is exciting to consider.”


Tags: organic farm, organic agriculture, holganix, organic fertilizer, agriculture, holganix agriculture, yield lab group

10X Payback on Tomatoes with Holganix Agriculture?

“Last year, I ran into an agronomist from Red Gold – a big tomato processor in Indiana and told him about Holganix,” reflects Mark Sybouts, Sales and Product Development Manager of Holganix distributor, Advanced Turf Solutions.

Red Gold processes 12,000 acres of tomatoes from the Indiana, Michigan and Ohio regions.

Sybouts proposed doing research with the Holganix Agriculture product and was offered a spot in the Red Gold demo plot.

Screen_Shot_2015-06-18_at_12.57.04_PMSetting up the test plot

The plot contained enough space to plant and study two rows of tomato crops, each row totaling 130 feet in length.

After discussing the idea with Dr. Bob, Holganix’s Director of Plant and Soil Sciences, Sybouts decided to test a four Holganix application program on the tomatoes to look for fruit yield or quality increases.

One row would be treated with Holganix and the second would act as a control however, both rows would receive the same quantity of inputs.

Seven days after transplanting the tomatoes, Sybouts applied his first round of Holganix Agriculture at 1.7 gallons per acre. Four weeks later, he did a second application at half that rate.

“Before I did the third application, I studied the plants carefully by randomly selecting four plants and counting and weighing the fruit to conduct a statistical analysis.

There was no visual difference between those tomatoes treated with Holganix and those not treated with Holganix.” Disappointed, Sybouts applied the third application.


Analyzing the data

After the third application, Sybouts was pleased that he could now see a difference in the plants.

“The foliage was greener but I couldn’t see a visible difference in the fruit" (see picture comparison above). 

Intrigued, Sybouts decided to forego doing the last application as harvest was only one week away.

“The next week I hand harvested the plot by selecting 4 random plots that were 5 feet long in each row," says Sybouts. "I segregated the fruit into piles of: Red, red-yellow, and green, weighed the fruit from each plot and ran a statistical analysis. Those tomatoes treated with Holganix yielded 51.3 tons per acre while the untreated came in at 46.7 tons per acre with a 90% statistical significance. That’s a 10x payback over the cost of the Holganix used per acre."


That experiment raised some eyebrows in the industry. “As a result, we are now testing what Holganix Agriculture can do from a commercial perspective,” says Sybouts.

“The beautiful thing in the agriculture business is that there is no mistaking an increase in value. It’s objective. It’s all about the money. There’s no arguing with the money,” says Sybouts. And, with a 10x payback using Holganix, it will be interesting to see what happens during their commercial tomato testing.

soil food web

Tags: organic agriculture, organic fertilizer, agriculture, compost tea, fertilizer, holganix agriculture, tomato, tomatoes

Meet Holganix Granular with Healthy Grow!

Healthy Grow Infused with Holganix: A carbon based fertility option

Something special happens every time Holganix joins forces with another amazing turf care product. This is especially true when you introduce living, breathing Holganix with the organic matter- filled Healthy Grow by Pearl Valley Farms.

Over the past 18 years, Pearl Valley Farms has perfected the art and science of composting and manufacturing Healthy Grow by adopting the philosophy, “The Way It’s Made Matters.”

That’s why Holganix has partnered with Pearl Valley Farms to produce Healthy Grow Infused with Holganix. This granular fertilizer comes in several different analysis and can be fully organic or a hybrid (organic with some synthetic nutrients) depending on the analysis.



What is Healthy Grow?

Healthy Grow is a granular, organic based fertilizer created from egg laying poultry manure. H

ealthy Grow has an ACCM (Aerobically Composted Chicken Manure) base, which means the manure is aerobically composted over a 45 – 60 day period. After composting, it is further processed with other organic and traditional ingredients to create a nutrient rich, biological, and user-friendly fertilizer. Ultimately, this means Healthy Grow isn’t pasteurized (doesn’t inhibit living biology) and the smell associated with manure-based fertilizers is kept in check.

What else is so special about Healthy Grow? Healthy Grow is packed with organic matter containing carbon sources.


Organic matter contains carbon and other nutrients

Organic matter is dead and decomposing plant and animal matter within the soil.

When in excess, organic matter produces thatch layers that hinder growth at the surface and black layers that strangle and limit root growth below the surface. Yet, because organic matter contains a carbon source, it remains critical in helping to produce a vibrant soil ecosystem. Organic matter and soil contain nutrients and micronutrients important to plant health, but are often locked in a form that can’t be utilized by the plant. Carbon is a food source for microorganisms.

Ultimately, the microorganisms (bacteria, fungi, etc…) eat the carbon, which allows them to convert nitrogen and other nutrients locked in organic matter and elsewhere in the soil, to plant-useable forms. 

Take nitrogen as an example of a locked nutrient found in organic matter. Aerobic, heterotrophic bacteria are responsible for decomposition and mineralization. These bacteria help to decompose the plant remains and turn nitrogen that was locked within the organic matter into ammonium (NH4+), which is a plant-usable form of nitrogen.

The same can be said for phosphorus (PO42-), potassium (K+), as well as every other plant-usable form of nutrients necessary for plant growth.

Often when we look at our turf programs, we focus on nitrogen as a key element.

While nitrogen is crucial, the key question is: How much urea do we need to put down to make the grass green while still being cost effective? 

The thing to keep in mind is that nitrogen is just one piece of the puzzle. Phosphorus, potassium, calcium and certain other micronutrients are also pieces of the puzzle.

However, because the microbiology within the soil is able to eat the carbon found in organic matter and then unlock nutrients, carbon supplies many different pieces of the soil environment puzzle, not just one.

Healthy Grow contains all the wonderful aspects obtained from having an organic matter and carbon source base. At the same time, the poultry base contains small doses of naturally occurring NPK!


What happens when Healthy Grow meets Holganix?

Holganix is a 100% organic, bionutritional product teeming with living microorganisms whose job is to naturally promote plant health. Other ingredients contained within Holganix include but are not limited to: endo and ecto mycorrhizae, beneficial nematodes, meleluca oil, yucca and kelp extract as well as humic and fulvic acids.

With Holganix, plants grow beneath the soil in addition to above it.

“Highway” systems of roots dig deeper and weave between one another, creating the perfect support system for the plant. With healthier root systems, plants are better able to uptake moisture and withstand environmental stresses like drought and winter injury.

At the same time, with Holganix you’re feeding the plant and the soil, because when you have a healthy soil environment you have a healthy plant. That means your plants need up to 75% less nitrogen fertilizers and 25% less pesticides than through traditional synthetic programs.

When you combine Holganix with Healthy Grow, it’s like giving Healthy Grow Red Bull and as the saying goes, Healthy Grow “gets wings” and results are amplified.

Not only do you get the benefit of adding a carbon source to your roster of turf products, but you also get all the holistic benefits contained in a jug of Holganix.

Healthy Grow provides the carbon sources (food sources) to the living biology within Holganix. The beneficial microorganisms then go to work converting locked nutrients in the soil and organic matter into plant useable forms.


What does Healthy Grow Infused with Holganix mean for you?

At the end of the day, it all comes down to achieving an effective and sustainable way to manage turf grass. The Healthy Grow Infused with Holganix program can be marketed as an organic based program.

Furthermore, because Healthy Grow Infused with Holganix has 180 and 90 SGN options, it won’t affect play on fairways, approaches or putting greens.

Overall, a carbon-based, living bionutritional fertility program allows professionals to return nature back to their properties and provides a more sustainable solution for the unpredictable future of the green industry. 

soil food web

Tags: organic golf course management, organic fertilizer products, granular fertilizer, organic agriculture, organic sports turf management, lawn care, holganix, sports turf, golf course, organic lawn care, organic fertilizer, agriculture, healthy grow, holganix granular, organic granular fertilizer