zondag 3 april 2016

Old knowledge. New insights.

Old knowledge.

The source that we see regularly is a report of the late Dr. Ir. F.C. Gerretsen, former director of the microbiology department of the government agricultural research station, in his 1939 study published 'Soil bacteriology at the service of agriculture and horticulture', published by the State Publishing Service of the Dutch Gazette.
This entire report from Dr. Gerretsen breathes the need to preserve and obtain nitrogen... and ends with a chapter on 'Provisions of Phosphate and Potassium', which begins with the words: "It is for agriculture a matter of great importance to be informed in a rapid and inexpensive manner on the fertilization needs of the soil."
'The fertilization needs of the soil' ... This reasoning seems logical and very correct. And yet here is something not right.

In the past, to the present, the need to fertilize the soil is beyond doubt. The solid core of the agricultural advisory service consists of the undisputed need to measure 'the fertilization needs of the land "and apply the results thereof.
As one can measure more substances in the soil (besides nitrogen-phosphate-potassium), by means of more sophisticated measuring equipment, several substances have been added, all urging for measurement and application. The amount of 'necessary to apply' artificial fertilizers has thus grown, rather than diminished. But what is measured actually? One measures those substances, which can be measured. This seems more then obvious, but it is not.

The soil contains fixed and unfixed nutrients. The unfixed substances, so the free nutrients to be measured, are measured. The fixed substances can not be measured ... is the simple conclusion. And when these substances can not or are not measured, apparently, the soil does not contain neither of these. The advice will then be to add 'so much and so much' N, P, or K, either manganese or molybdenum, or... minerals in general... or...

Maybe my conclusion is too simple, but in another way I can not clarify and explain why only one gift of just a bit microbial active compost to a seemingly 'penniless' soil can still produce beautiful healthy cabbages. That is only possible if the microbes release the substances that are fixed in the soil, for plants. This is our daily practice:

In this soil we have never been able to grow something decent before we started using our grass compost. There only had been a little compost necessary to achieve this result.

New insights.

Microbiologist Dr. Elaine Ingham. presents it to us. Indeed peppered with technical names, she nevertheless explains clearly what is the essence of our soil and what is the revenue model for the trade in artificial fertilizers. Thus she sketches the 'More on Farmer', who is told every year, by his adviser, that he needs more and more artificially produced substances, to keep up his production levels. And the market has increasingly more substances to offer.
However, would this farmer know why his production is declining every year... he would make sure that his topsoil is fed with microbial life that unlocks the nutrients captured in the soil.

The Roots of Your Profits
Dr. Elaine Ingham, Soil Microbiologist, Founder of Soil Foodweb Inc:

About pesticides, compost and the danger of an an-aerobic condition in the topsoil, by a lack of microbial life. The co-operation of plants and microbial life, which appears to be a cycle of nutrients...
From counter 30:00 (half hour) in this video Dr. Ingham talks about the measurable and unmeasurable nutrients in the topsoil.
The final conclusion of Ingham is, that each soil includes all fertilizers that a plant possibly needs. Soil is mineral in itself. Her comment about this: "When you run out of rocks, then you have to worry", is remarkable. Further, she clearly indicates that active organic substance (in the form of compost) is able to convert all the minerals from the soil into a usable form for the plant. She also sais that the plant decides which food it will receive and use. From this we must conclude that soil does not need fertilization. Soil is mineral and active soil is fertilizer..:

Up-scaling, three crops a year, to get a 'normal' level of income. Where food prices are kept low and where the real money is earned in the food industry.

Where it once was the well-meant intention to come to higher yields through fertilization (in whatever form), now the farmer literally eats into the foundations of his existence, the source of his capital. Also the development on which we 'grow off the ground' is only a temporary solution.
What is permanent, is a healthy topsoil. In any case it was long lasting for centuries, until the moment we were interfering with it. From ancient on microbes have ensured the development of a fertile soil, rich in humus. But we still believe that our happiness depends on more and more fertilizers. And nature reacts with silting and pollution of our groundwater.

Perhaps new knowledge penetrates through to farmers and old knowledge is not thrown away. Because the latter was not really meant to brackish soil. We still can make good use of that old knowledge, to understand the microbial life. With new resources, new means, new tools.




Elaine Ingham on You Tube, in a short version posted by 'Farming Secrets':

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