zondag 3 april 2016

Old knowledge. New insights

Old knowledge

The source that we regularly read is a paper by the late Dr. Ir. F.C. Gerretsen, former director of the microbiology department of the Dutch agricultural research institute. His in 1939 published study 'Soil bacteriology at the service of agriculture and horticulture' 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 wrong.

New developments with the same result

In the past to the present, 'the need to fertilize the soil' is beyond any doubt. The solid core of the agricultural advisory service consists of the indisputable urge to measure 'the fertilization needs of the land' and to apply the results thereof.

As science can measure more substances in the soil (besides nitrogen-phosphate-potassium), by means of more sophisticated measuring equipment, several substances have been added to this urge for measurement and application. The amount of 'necessary to apply' artificial fertilizers has thus grown, rather than diminished. But what is actually measured ?

Fixed and Unfixed

The soil contains fixed and unfixed nutrients. The unfixed substances, so the free... absorbable substances are measured. The fixed substances can not be measured. So, one measures those substances, that cán be measured. The other substances (or the larger amounts of the same unfixed substances that are fixed) seem not to exist.
And when these substances can not (and 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... what ever the industry can provide.

Microbial active compost

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 was a little compost needed (10%) to achieve this result.

New insights

Microbiologist Dr. Elaine Ingham. presents this all to us. Indeed peppered with technical names. But 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:

Here the video with Dr. Ingham, 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 absorbable 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..:

Ingham: '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 without soil (on rock wool for example) has no real future. It can only be a temporary solution. What is permanent, is a healthy topsoil. In any case it was long lasting for centuries, until we interfered with artificial fertilizer. From ancient times, microbes have ensured the build-up of a humus-rich fertile soil. But we still believe that our happiness depends on more and more, more and more. We consider this the most sensible and tough way of acting. And nature reacts with silting and pollution.

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':

Geen opmerkingen: