The Holganix Blog

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

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

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

Top 3 Benefits of Using Holganix PreBiotic 2-10-20 In Landscapes [INFOGRAPHIC]

Soil Amendment

Looking to increase seed germination results? Or, looking to increase root growth of turfgrass, trees, shrubs or ornamentals? Then Holganix Prebiotic 2-10-20 is the product for you!

Holganix PreBiotic 2-10-20 contains a rare combination of high-quality phosphorus and potassium ingredients, layered with a long chain poly-amino-acid and molasses.

The combination of ingredients is designed to increase root growth and seed germination directly through the use of nutrients, and indirectly by increasing nutrient uptake and by supporting the soil microbes in the soil.  

Check out our infographic below on the top 3 benefits of using Holganix PreBiotic 2-10-20, or skip the infographic and read the written article instead. 

Seed starter fertilizer

 

"I would Recommend Holganix PreBiotic 2-10-20"

“Holganix PreBiotic 2-10-20 helps us boost seed germination during aeration and overseeding applications,” says Justin Johonnett of Vivid Lawn.

“We also use Holganix PreBiotic 2-10-20 in our fertilizer program as a complement to Holganix Blue Sky 21-0-0 and Holganix Bio 800+ Lawn. The combination allows us to provide a well-balanced fertility program with all the added benefits from the biology in Holganix Bio 800+ Lawn,” explains Justin. “I would recommend Holganix PreBiotic 2-10-02 to other lawn and landscape companies.”

 

Want to learn more about Holganix PreBiotic 2-10-20?

Download our Holganix Soil Smart Program to learn how to use Holganix PreBiotic 2-10-20 in a turf fertilization program for your region. Or skip the Soil Smart Program and click the links below to access our technical information.

>>Download Your Holganix Soil Smart Program

>>Download The PreBiotic 2-10-20 Label

>>Review The Holganix PreBiotic 2-10-20 Product Page

Tags: lawn care, the science behind holganix

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

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

8 Incredible TED Talks On Sustainable Agriculture

TED TALK SUSTAINABLE AGRICULTURE

Sustainable agriculture, soil health, and ag-tech have been hot topics regardless of whether you are a farmer, landscaper, grounds manager or homeowner. These are important conversations that impact the environment and food security. That’s why we have curated these 8 Incredible TED Talks On Sustainable Agriculture. Topics include but are not limited to, microbes, plant communication, mushrooms, and the space age!


A Forgotten Space Age Technology Could Change How We Grow Food

 

 

 

Sustainability researcher, Lisa Dyson discusses how abandoned NASA programs from the 1960s could revolutionize modern agriculture. NASA researchers were able to manufacture protein-rich products using hydrogenotrophic microbes - known as “Carbon recyclers”. These same microbes could be a potential solution for modern food demands.

Reading this blog via email? Click here to watch the video.

 

Regeneration Of Our Lands: A Producer’s Perspective

 

 

The health of our soil resource has declined to such a point that it is not only negatively affecting farm and ranch profitability, but it is also having a devastating impact on everything from our water quality to our communities and even to our health.

In the above video, North Dakota rancher Gabe Brown walks us through a common sense solution to this crisis.

Gabe Brown is a pioneer in the soil health movement. Gabe and his family, own and operate a diversified 5,000-acre farm and ranch near Bismarck, ND. Their operation focuses on farming and ranching in nature’s image.

Reading this blog via email? Click here to watch the video.


Soil – From Dirt To Lifetime

 

 

Did you know there are more living organisms beneath the soil then there are above it? Soil scientists can’t even come to an agreement about how many microbes are actually in the soil. In this TED Talk, Fred Kirschenmann, a pioneer in sustainable agriculture, explores the power of soil and the history of soil.

Fred has been involved in sustainable agriculture and food issues for most of his life. He serves as both a Distinguished Fellow at the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture at Iowa State University and as President of the Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture. He also manages his 2,600-acre organic family farm in North Dakota. 

Reading this blog via email? Click here to watch the video.

 

Electrical Experiments With Plants That Count And Communicate

 

 

Neuroscientist Greg Gage takes equipment used to study the brain and attaches it 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. 

Reading this blog via email? Click here to watch the video.

 

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 1800s 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. Reading this blog via email? Click here to watch the video.

 

Mark Jackson: A Personal Story About Farming And The Future Of Agriculture

 

 

Five generations ago, Mark Jackson’s great-great-great-grandfather purchased a plot of land in Iowa and the Jackson family has been farming it ever since. In this narrative, Mark describes the changes that have happened in agriculture over the past generations and how some things have stayed exactly the same. Mark’s story illustrates the power of sustainable farming from a farmer’s perspective.

Mark is a fifth generation Iowa farmer who practices sustainable production and environmental responsibility in his modern family farming operations. He was one of the original farmers who pioneered sustainable soybean farming with Unilever.

Watch the video above to learn more about his story and sustainable agriculture. Reading this blog via email? Click here to watch the video.



6 Ways Mushrooms Can Save The World

 

 

Paul Stamets, a mycologist, dives deep into the soil to explore the power of mushrooms and offers 6 solutions on how mushrooms - specifically fungal mycelium can save the world. Mycelium is a threadlike hyphae portion of fungi that contribute to soil health and can deliver nutrients to plants. In a single cubic inch of soil, there are more than 8 miles of mycelium.

Reading this blog via email? Click here to watch the video.


Dig In Deeper to Soil Health: Download Our Soil Science eBook

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: the science behind holganix, agriculture

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.

 

soil food web

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

Holganix Agriculture: Data & Building The Case For BioDiversity

holganix ag

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

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

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


Building The Case For BioDiversity - Selecting A Microbial Product

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

 

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

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

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

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


Want to dig in deeper?

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

soil food web

Tags: the science behind holganix, holganix reviews, agriculture