The Holganix Blog

Top 5 Benefits Of Regenerative Agriculture [INFOGRAPHIC]

Regenerative_Agriculture_benefits

In 1938, Dr. Charles Kellogg, soil scientist and then Chief of the USDA’s Bureau for Chemistry and Soils stated that “Essentially, all life depends upon the soil… There can be no life without soil and no soil without life; they have evolved together.”

100 years later and that quote still remains prevalent to the way we think of agriculture. As new scientific studies are published supporting the benefits of soil health, topics like regenerative agriculture have gained popularity. Once thought of a system for niché farmers, regenerative agriculture is gaining major headway within the agriculture community as a way to improve soil health, while being good stewards to the earth.


What Is Regenerative Agriculture?

So, what is regenerative agriculture? Regenerative agriculture describes farming and grazing practices that focus on regenerating topsoil, allowing farmers to maintain crop yields, improve water retention and plant 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.

According to a paper by the Washington State University, “there are multiple versions of [regenerative agriculture], each with a different flavor.” For example, The Rodale Institute promotes a strictly organic version and even has certifying programs to guide farmers and buyers. While, farmer and TEDx speaker, Gabe Brown champions a form of regenerative agriculture that doesn’t restrict the need to go fully organic.


Top 5 Benefits Of Regenerative Agriculture

Check out our infographic below for the top 5 benefits of regenerative agriculture, or skip the infographic and keep on scrolling to read it in article form - the old fashioned way.

Regenerative_Agriculture_Infographic


#1 Regenerative Agriculture Is Focused On Increasing Soil Health

No matter the variation in regenerative agricultural practices, all focus on increasing soil health. According to the Regeneration International, a non-profit organization with the goal for a global transition to regenerate agriculture and land management, “Regenerative agriculture describes farming and organic practices that, among other benefits, reverse climate change by rebuilding soil organic matter and restoring degraded soil biodiversity…”  By focusing on building soil health, you can optimize their yield results and crop health naturally.


#2 Maintaining Crop Yields Is A No Brainer?

No conversation around switching regenerative agricultural practices would be complete without addressing yield. According to the Nature Conservancy Organization, regenerative agricultural practices “reduce the risk of yield loss due to stressors, and can bring about a material increase in crop yields and quality.” Other reports from the Rodale Institute shows that yields can be maintained and at times increased (See benefit #3).

We should be open to exploring whether or not we can maintain crop yields with regenerative agricultural practices and there is no better way to get proof than by trying it on a portion of your own farm.  

>>Check out the Nature Conservancy's report on Regenerative Agriculture


#3 Growing More Resilient Crops

According to the Rodale Institute, yields “under organic systems are likely to be more resilient to extreme weather… in the long-running Farming System Trial, in drought years, yields were consistently higher in the organic system. For instance, organic corn yields were 28-to-34% higher than conventional.” In general, having resilient crops comes back to the soil and increasing soil biodiversity. By ensuring your soils are healthy and teeming with beneficial soil microbes, you can naturally displace and suppress disease.


#4 Improved Farm Profitability

According to several reports, switching to regenerative agriculture can actually increase your farm’s profitability. For example, according to Farmland LP, a fund that invests in converting conventional farmland to regenerative, organic farming, they have seen gross margins around 40-to-50% on wine grapes and single-digit improvements on commodity crops. In another example, researchers Claire LaCanne and Dr. Jonathan Lundgren note that regenerative agriculture grown corn reaped 78% higher profits than conventional corn production systems. And, according to General Mills, it builds farmer economic resilience. They state that “regenerative agricultural practices can reduce the need for expensive chemical inputs.”

There’s a lot of discussion on the importance of focusing on improved farm profitability when converting a farm to regenerative agriculture, and the research on it is variable, yet promising.  


#5 Regenerative Agriculture As A Solution To Climate Change.

In a white paper titled “Regenerative Organic Agriculture and Climate Change”, the Rodale Institute states that “we could sequester more than 100% of current annual CO2 emissions with a switch to widely available and inexpensive organic management practices, which we term 'regenerative organic agriculture.'”  That’s a tall order! But, it is one the Rodale Institute has been working with researchers to prove for the past three decades.

>>Check out the Rodale Institute’s white paper for information on their climate change data


How Do Regenerative Agriculture and Holganix Bio 800+ Agriculture Fit Together?

Regenerative agricultural practices like composting, cover crops and no-to-low-till, leave food sources for soil microbes in the soil. By providing food sources for microbes, regenerative agriculture strengthens the soil microbes.

Holganix Bio 800+ Agriculture harnesses the power of over 800 species of soil microbes to recharge soils, that ultimately leads to improved yield, root growth, and crop resilience against stress.

When you combine regenerative agriculture practices that provide microbe food sources, and the diverse consortium of microbes in Holganix Bio 800+, results from both can increase.

Learn more about Holganix Bio 800+ Agriculture by watching our short 8.5-minute video on our university and commercial grower trials.

 

 

 

Dig Deeper Into Soil; 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: science behind holganix, farmer

5 Types of Soil Microbes And What They Do For Plants

 

5_types_0f_microbe

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

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

 

How much fertilizer actually goes to the plant?

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

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


What are the different types of soil microbes?

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


Bacteria

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


Actinomycetes

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


Fungi

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


Protozoa

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


Nematodes

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


Want to keep digging into soil science?

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

Download our Digging into Soil Science ebook to explore:

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

soil food web 

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

3 Crazy TED Talks for Plant Geeks

4 Tennessee Lawn Care Companies (3)-2

The truth is, those of us at Holganix are complete geeks when it comes to soil and plants. It’s one of the reason why we love to share new TED Talks with our blog readers that demonstrate a new technology or perspective on soil and plants.

Below are three selected plant-related TED Talks that contain crazy, unique ideas that will make Holganix products almost seem ordinary.  

 

Two notes for the reader:

1. If you are reading this blog via email, the videos will not operate. Click the link to each video to watch the TED Talk.

2. If you liked these TED Talks, consider checking out: Top 5 Soil Science TED Talks and Top 5 TED Talks for LAWNtrepreneurs.

 

How to grow a forest in your backyard

Eco-Entrepreneur Shubhendu Sharma demonstrates how his company grows dense, bio diverse, 100-year-old forest in just 10 years. According to Sharma, it starts with the soil. His team mixes the perfect amount of soil with local biomass, then he harnesses the power of soil microbes to produce nutrients for plants.

For a direct link to Sharma’s TED Talk, click here.


Electrical experiments with plants that count and communicate

Neuroscientist Greg Gage takes equipment used to study the brain and attaches is to the Mimosa Publica (a plant whose leaves close when touched) and the Venus Flytrap. His goal? To demonstrate how plants use electrical signals to convert information, move and even count.

Watch Gage’s TED Talk for his demonstration and explanation on how plants count and communicate, click here.


One seed at a time, protecting the future of food

Diversity within crops is a genetic resource that is crucial to the future of agriculture, and that diversity is crumbling. For example, in the 1800’s U.S. farmers and gardeners were growing 7,100 varieties of apples and today just 300 exist.

Biologist Cary Fowler banned together with the world’s scientists, organizations and governments to preserve samples of seeds in the Svalbard Global Seed Bank located in Norway. At the time of the TED Talk, their seed bank held 425,000 unique crop varieties.

Watch Fowler’s video to learn more about why diversity is crucial to agriculture and how they are protecting the world’s crop varieties, click here

 

Want to keep digging into plant science? 

Download our Digging into Soil Science ebook to explore:

1. How the soil food web supports healthy plants

2. The power behind soil microbes

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

soil food web

Tags: science behind holganix

What makes plant growth regulators cool?

Have you ever noticed that when you go to purchase bananas from the grocery store, they are always perfectly ripe and ready for consumption? That is because of a little known plant hormone known as Ethylene. Ethylene is a gas produced in the plant with the purpose (among others) to speed up the rate at which fruits ripen. Bananas are harvested in a pre-ripening condition (green). To prevent ripening, they are shipped under refrigeration to the destination country. Upon arrival, they are placed in a sealed ripening room and exposed to ethylene gas, causing the green peel to turn yellow and change the sugar content and texture of the fruit. When left to their own devices, the ripe bananas produce their own ethylene gas, sending other bananas into ripe mode. Ethylene is just one example of how plant hormones play a crucial role in plant life.

bananas_stock.jpg

Auxins and gibberellins are two common plant hormones when it comes to growth and orientation, positively affecting cellular growth and differentiation. Other naturally occurring plant hormones include: abscisic acid and cytokinins – which direct germination and fruiting when environmental conditions are right. Used in commerce, these naturally occurring plant hormones and their synthetic cousins are referred to as plant growth regulators.

Soil Science

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

We all know that our brains make up 3lbs of our body weight... But did you know our body ALSO contains 3lbs of Microbes?

We all know that our brains make up 3lbs of our body weight... But did you know our body ALSO contains 3lbs of Microbes?

It’s true! Every healthy human body is inhabited by an enormous collection of bacteria, fungi, one-celled archaea and viruses. Because these microorganisms keep our bodies in balance, it is vitally important to maintain optimum levels of the essential probiotics, and to provide the proper food sources for them (“prebiotics”).

According to Mike Amaranthus and Bruce Allyn in their article for The Atlantic entitled “Healthy Soil Microbes, Healthy People”, it is thought that the drugs of the future will be full of people-friendly germs and the foods these microbes like to eat.

Microbes-small.jpgInterestingly, the advancements made in understanding the human gut have helped gain insight into a parallel microbiome—soil! Just as we have unwittingly destroyed vital microbes in the human gut through overuse of antibiotics and highly processed foods, we have recklessly devastated soil microbiota essential to plant health through overuse of certain chemical fertilizers, fungicides, herbicides, pesticides, failure to add sufficient organic matter (upon which they feed), and heavy tillage. These soil microorganisms -- particularly bacteria and fungi -- cycle nutrients and water to plants, to our crops, the source of our food, and ultimately our health. Soil bacteria and fungi serve as the "stomachs" of plants. They form symbiotic relationships with plant roots and "digest" nutrients, providing nitrogen, phosphorus, and many other nutrients in a form that plant cells can assimilate. Reintroducing the right bacteria and fungi to facilitate the dark fermentation process in depleted and sterile soils is analogous to eating yogurt (or taking those targeted probiotic "drugs of the future") to restore the right microbiota deep in your digestive tract.

The good news is that the same technological advances that allow us to map the human microbiome now enable us to understand, isolate, and reintroduce microbial species into the soil to repair the damage and restore healthy microbial communities. It is now much easier for us to map genetic sequences of soil microorganisms, understand what they actually do and how to grow them, and reintroduce them back to the soil.

These soil microorganisms do much more than nourish plants. Just as the microbes in the human body both aid digestion and maintain our immune system, soil microorganisms both digest nutrients and protect plants against pathogens and other threats. For over four hundred million years, plants have been forming a symbiotic association with fungi that colonize their roots, creating mycorrhizae (my-cor-rhi-zee), literally "fungus roots," which extend the reach of plant roots a hundred-fold.

What Leonardo Da Vinci said five hundred years ago is probably still true today: "We know more about the movement of celestial bodies than about the soil underfoot." Though you never see them, 90% of all organisms on the seven continents live underground. In addition to bacteria and fungi, the soil is also filled with protozoa, nematodes, mites and micro arthropods. There can be 10,000 to 50,000 species in less than a teaspoon of soil. In that same teaspoon of soil, there are more microbes than there are people on the earth. In a handful of healthy soil, there is more biodiversity in just the bacterial community than you will find in all the animals of the Amazon basin.

Read the full article here.

This blog was written by Suzanne Longacre, Holganix Communication Specialist 

Soil Science

Tags: soil microbes, soil health, lawn care, Mycorrhizae, golf course, agriculture, plant health, soil microorganism, science behind holganix, plant biology, soil and plant biology