Permaculture forum: Healthy Human Biology depends on Heathy Soil Biology

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Charter ATP Member
hazelnut
Dec 23, 2013 8:56 AM CST
http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2013/12/2...

Another article on soil health from the Mercola collection.
Name: Caroline Scott
Calgary (Zone 4a)
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CarolineScott
Dec 31, 2013 2:02 AM CST
But people do grow vegetables hydroponically???
with no microbes???

Charter ATP Member
hazelnut
Dec 31, 2013 9:10 AM CST
Of course you can grow plants without microrobes--industrial agriculture does it all the time and that's where most of our food comes from. But industrially/hydroponically grown food is missing a few things that were present for a few million years as human digestive systems developed. And these missing elements --we are learning now -- are essential nutrients for human health.

Human Biome Project: https://commonfund.nih.gov/hmp/index
[Last edited by hazelnut - Dec 31, 2013 9:12 AM (+)]
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Name: Caroline Scott
Calgary (Zone 4a)
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CarolineScott
Dec 31, 2013 10:51 AM CST
I need to see a chemical analysis of hydroponic tomatoes,-
posted beside a chemical analysis of soil grown tomatoes.
We can tell there is a difference by taste, but that is not scientific.
Name: Dave Whitinger
Jacksonville, Texas (Zone 8b)
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dave
Dec 31, 2013 11:01 AM CST

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I would also be interested in seeing that. I believe differences would be found but I can't imagine what those differences might be.

Charter ATP Member
hazelnut
Dec 31, 2013 11:34 AM CST
http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2013/03/2...

Here are the references for the article:

[-] Sources and References
Mother Jones February 23, 2013
1 PLoS ONE February 20, 2013 8(2): e56354
2 Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry 2003 Feb 26;51(5):1237-41
3 PLoS ONE 5(9): e12346. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0012346
4 The Organic Center, AAAS Session 2009 -- "Living Soil, Food Quality and the Future of Food", February 2009
5 Newhope360.com February 27, 2009
6 Pediatrics May 17, 2010 [Epub ahead of print]
7 QualityLowInputFood Project
8 Annals of Internal Medicine September 4, 2012; 157(5)
9 Neurology October 9, 2012 vol. 79 no. 15 1540-1547
10 MedlinePlus Supplements: Lycopene
11 J Agric Food Chem. 2004 Dec 29;52(26):8017-20.
12 J Agric Food Chem. 2002 May 8;50(10):3010-4.

End Quote

This study compares organically grown with non-organic.

I have seen a few studies of microbially enhanced results, but Ill have to look for them.

One of the things that microbially enhanced soils do for vegetables is to chelate soil minerals, so that they are more readily available to the growing plant, and subsequently to the human who eats the fruits of that plant.
[Last edited by hazelnut - Dec 31, 2013 11:40 AM (+)]
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Charter ATP Member
hazelnut
Dec 31, 2013 11:41 AM CST
Taste is not scientific? I wouldn't say that in front of a wine taster (!). Theoretically, anything that can be replicated is scientific.

Name: Caroline Scott
Calgary (Zone 4a)
Charter ATP Member Region: Canadian Bulbs Winter Sowing Enjoys or suffers cold winters Lilies
Peonies Plant Lover: Loves 'em all! Garden Ideas: Master Level
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CarolineScott
Dec 31, 2013 11:55 PM CST
Different people have different tastes.
I offered a neighbour some of my Sungold tomatoes.
I really like the taste and she thought they were awful?
Name: Caroline Scott
Calgary (Zone 4a)
Charter ATP Member Region: Canadian Bulbs Winter Sowing Enjoys or suffers cold winters Lilies
Peonies Plant Lover: Loves 'em all! Garden Ideas: Master Level
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CarolineScott
Jan 1, 2014 12:01 AM CST
Chelated minerals will be released slowly into the soil as the plants need them.
I do not have any background in microbes, but I do believe that they make for healthy soil and healthy food.
This is behind the No Tilling idea.

There are chemicals in tomatoes associated with different tastes.
If I were younger, I would like to get into the chemistry of plants.

Unfortunately, there is a need for profit in any research. So much, that we gardeners would like researched, is not done.

I joined the International Society for Horticulture Science hoping that there would be research useful to gardeners.
I am somewhat dissappointed as the profit motive is there too.
[Last edited by CarolineScott - Jan 1, 2014 12:08 AM (+)]
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Charter ATP Member
hazelnut
Jan 1, 2014 4:21 PM CST
http://www.amazon.com/Acres-USA/dp/B000EGD2T6

You might be interested in this resource.

Research into the rhizosphere - the microbiome is a current project that most people hadn't considered even a few years ago. I suspect as that research progresses we will have a much different idea about soil biology than we do now.
Name: Caroline Scott
Calgary (Zone 4a)
Charter ATP Member Region: Canadian Bulbs Winter Sowing Enjoys or suffers cold winters Lilies
Peonies Plant Lover: Loves 'em all! Garden Ideas: Master Level
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CarolineScott
Jan 2, 2014 12:35 AM CST
So do you add microbe supplements to your soil?
In Canada, there is a product trade named MYKE ,
which is supposed to improve plant growth through the activity of this fungi?
It seemed to be popular a few years ago.
I am now wondering whether it would be an idea to add this to the soil in my seedling trays?

Charter ATP Member
hazelnut
Jan 2, 2014 11:36 AM CST
I would experiment. Keep a control sample that you do not treat and a handy notebook to keep a record of what you did.

I don't add microbe supplements, but then I am starting over at my place after an infestation of invasives--most of which are nitrogen fixers. I plan some hugel strips to go in this winter made from the bodies of the trees I am cutting now. After that will go a series of ground buster cover crops. I think once you get the components in there, the microbes will pretty much come by themselves. I think it might depend on how much rooting activity you can get, such as might occur in a fast succession of cover crops, cruciferous vegetables, and daikon radish, in each case leaving the roots in place to decay into the soil.

In the fermentation of vegetables, Sandor Katz has said that there is a natural progression of the types of microbes that are in the fermented vegetables. So even if you innoculate initially with xy microbes you will wind up with wz microbes. I think that probably happens in soil also, that there is a natural progression within the rhizome. Now how do you measure that? Ill have to think about it for a while. Possibly there are index plants you could use to check how your microbes are doing.
Name: Rick Corey
Everett WA 98204 (Zone 8a)
Sunset Zone 5. Koppen Csb. Eco 2f
I helped beta test the first seed swap Plant and/or Seed Trader Seed Starter Region: Pacific Northwest Photo Contest Winner: 2014 Vegetable Grower
Avid Green Pages Reviewer Garden Ideas: Master Level Garden Sages I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! I helped plan and beta test the plant database. Charter ATP Member
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RickCorey
Jan 3, 2014 3:42 PM CST
>> I am now wondering whether it would be an idea to add this to the soil in my seedling trays?

That makes sense to me, since a seed in a soilless mix is least likely to encounter the microbes it needs. And one alleged benefit of root fungi is that they provide some protection against harmful microbes.

However, their biggest benefit seems to be helping the plant scrounge water and minerals out of soil when it is dry and infertile. Thus the need for them is less in fertile. moist seedbeds or trays.

I've read that the numbers of mycorrhizae that the plant allows to penetrate its roots or connect to root hairs decreases when the plant can get enough water and minerals by itself. The idea was advanced that, since a plant supplies its root fungi with energy and some other compounds, that they are a drag on the plant unless they can "pay their way" by making scarce water and minerals more available to the plant.

The root fungi can live independently, but then they have to supply all their own energy and food from digesting organics in the soil. As far as I know, all mycorrhizae are mutualistic symbionts, not obligate parasites.


Here's another supplier of mycorrhizae:

http://www.mycorrhizalproducts.com/
list of species:
http://www.mycorrhizalproducts.com/index.php?cid=84&

some references and links:
http://www.mycorrhizalproducts.com/index.php?cid=84&

make your own innoculum (multiply existing root fungi and concentrate them):
http://www.sunseed.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/MYCORRH...


Charter ATP Member
hazelnut
Jan 4, 2014 10:31 AM CST
"As far as I know, all mycorrhizae are mutualistic symbionts, not obligate parasites. "

I thought this article might take us back a notch and explain the difference between soil bacteria and mycorrhizae (soil fungi):

http://www.planthealthcare.eu/en/knowledge-information/soill...

[Last edited by hazelnut - Jan 4, 2014 10:54 AM (+)]
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Name: Caroline Scott
Calgary (Zone 4a)
Charter ATP Member Region: Canadian Bulbs Winter Sowing Enjoys or suffers cold winters Lilies
Peonies Plant Lover: Loves 'em all! Garden Ideas: Master Level
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CarolineScott
Jan 8, 2014 8:49 AM CST
Thank you for this discussion as I am learning lots!

I guess one of the things that I would like to see is a list of which microbes will benefit which plants.
One of the above refs does say that most of the common veges etc need Endo ones.
Have you come across more specific lists? Which specific microbe for which crop?

Also somewhere I came across the idea that:- yes, strawberries require mycorhizzae, but if peat is used then
the effect of the fungi is reduced?

I suppose this is a new idea to gardeners and the info will come as more of us experiment.
[Last edited by CarolineScott - Jan 8, 2014 9:03 AM (+)]
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Charter ATP Member
hazelnut
Jan 8, 2014 9:56 AM CST
You can buy mychorrhizae and some soil microbe innoculants at plant companies such as those Rick Corey lists above.

But I suspect that trying to feed a few microbes into disturbed soil or into a hydroponic set-up really misses the lessons of what microbe-plant relationships are all about.

For example, here some 33,000 microbes were identified from a sugar beet field. But what was effective against disease was the interaction and community activity of the whole microbiome of the field that developed over several years.

http://newscenter.lbl.gov/news-releases/2011/05/05/community...

It is a little like capturing a few gorillas in the wild, putting them in a cage, and concluding that these gorillas in cages represent what gorillas are like. When in fact gorillas live in highly organized communities, taking a randomized sample does not give you information relevant to the highly organized communities and territories that are relevant to gorillas themselves.

I suspect what we will learn about the microbiome relevant for gardeners, is that you can grow your own by setting up the right conditions, just as you can grow soil animals like angle worms, or make compost. Its not something you can buy in the store. It could be that the microbiome that develops in one sugar beet field, does not have the same components as those in a sugar beet field down the road.

This article suggests that you can grow your own microbes with compost tea:

http://www.gardeningwithmicrobes.com/livingsoil.shtml
[Last edited by hazelnut - Jan 8, 2014 10:00 AM (+)]
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Name: Rick Corey
Everett WA 98204 (Zone 8a)
Sunset Zone 5. Koppen Csb. Eco 2f
I helped beta test the first seed swap Plant and/or Seed Trader Seed Starter Region: Pacific Northwest Photo Contest Winner: 2014 Vegetable Grower
Avid Green Pages Reviewer Garden Ideas: Master Level Garden Sages I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! I helped plan and beta test the plant database. Charter ATP Member
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RickCorey
Jan 8, 2014 12:34 PM CST
Caroline,

I re-read a couple of pages in a microbiology textbook, but it's going to take a few more tries to sink in. And probably that text is already out of date. It addressed many kinds of root-fungi symbioses, and vegetables would have been only one or two of those different kinds.

The impression that I got was that it was one-to-many: one genus or species of MR would be acceptable to (or best for) several groups of vegetables. That's just an impression from one general text, so take it with a grain of salt.

But it supports the practice of several vendors who sell various mixes of "generic" MR spores for various applications. The plants will accept the ones they work best with, or the fungi will invade those roots that they work best with. Then the "winners" will multiply and the "losers" will revert to spores (or maybe just die off).

Even back when that text was written, some 3-way and 4-way symbioses were known and documented -
1. plant root
2. first MR
3. first bacterium
4. another MR or bacterium or fungi

Perhaps by now they have learned that it isn't so much that certain 3-way and 4-way combinations "work". Perhaps now the belief is that soil life is more like a very busy orgy with thousands or millions of POSSIBLE interactions, plus not-yet-fully-understood mechanisms that favor BENEFICIAL interactions.

The co-evolution of roots and MR goes WAY back. I've always been impressed and amazed that soil and roots are smarter than I am - provided with minimal water and minerals and organics, the living components always interact to increase the fertility and support more plant growth.

And they do it without scientific journals and planning meetings and budgets. I think soil is smarter than everybody!

There was a suggestion in the textbook that plant roots alone would have had a hard time colonizing sterile soil as life started to move from sea to land. The author suggested that root-MR symbioses were probably as old as vascular plants on plant. I forget how many millions or billions of years old the oldest known root-MR micro-fossil was.

However, that argument ignored things like lichens. Lichens could have covered the earth an inch deep before any vascular plant moved inland, for all I know. MR might then have evolved over hundreds of millions of years.

P.S. I'm no longer as sure that most MR can live in soil independent of plant roots. Maybe it is only the spores that persist. And there are some MR that biologists were having trouble culturing alone in sterile Petri dishes without plants or additional 'helper' microbes.

P.P.S. I think it's cool that there are something like ten times as many microbial species living in soil than microbiologists can get to live in lab conditions (which I have now learned to call " gnotobiotic ").

If the lab environment is so simple that every species present is known, 90% of soil life won't live there. They are THAT interdependent!
Name: Rick Corey
Everett WA 98204 (Zone 8a)
Sunset Zone 5. Koppen Csb. Eco 2f
I helped beta test the first seed swap Plant and/or Seed Trader Seed Starter Region: Pacific Northwest Photo Contest Winner: 2014 Vegetable Grower
Avid Green Pages Reviewer Garden Ideas: Master Level Garden Sages I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! I helped plan and beta test the plant database. Charter ATP Member
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RickCorey
Jan 8, 2014 12:47 PM CST
hazelnut said:

But I suspect that trying to feed a few microbes into disturbed soil or into a hydroponic set-up really misses the lessons of what microbe-plant relationships are all about.

For example, here some 33,000 microbes were identified from a sugar beet field. But what was effective against disease was the interaction and community activity of the whole microbiome of the field that developed over several years.



Although I agree with what you said, I would suggest a qualification. Adding 2-3 species of microbial root helpers to a nearly sterile potting mix can't come near to giving as much benefit as mature soil that's adapted its populations to vegetable roots for years.

But I bet that roots in a sterile mix can still be helped "a lot" if the MR spores you add do happen to include even 1-2 compatible species.

Assuming the vendors are smart or lucky, they probably grow their micro-herd in association with plant roots that are most typical of their customers' needs ... or rather, that they grow a few kinds and mix them. in each bag.

One company talked a lot about working with you to determine what kinds of products were most likely to be helpful in your soil, your climate, and your crop mix.

I have huge respect for the power of biological multiplication. If there is ONE compatible spore within a mm or two of ONE root hair, soon there will be 100 MR cells. Then 100,00, and worms and insects are spreading them to every plant that needs them.

And one article proved that once a field of some crop (I forget which) is well established, you can dump insects onto one plant, and plants 10 yards away will react with protective responses because of chemical signals sent through the root-MR network!

(kidding now)

Maybe all the roots and fungi in an entire field organize themselves like neurons into a "brain".


Charter ATP Member
hazelnut
Jan 8, 2014 4:14 PM CST
May not be more of a joke than you think, Rick (!). I think the brain analogy has been made with respect to the signals that gut bacteria send to our own brains. I think the metaphor was 'the brain in our guts'.

Sad to think we have been dousing our selves and our food with all these antibacterials: when they (the microbotics) are just what we need to stay healthy and thrive. And plants growing in healthy soil do seem to have some inter signalling capability.

But possibly, rather than trying to find a list of microbiotic species to match up with certain plants, a better strategy is to provide to right conditions, (light, drainage, soil, etc), plant the plants, and then mix up a batch of compost tea, and let the party begin. Plants will attract the right microbiotics for their given situation, and the right microbes from the zillions in the compost tea will obllige.
Name: Rick Corey
Everett WA 98204 (Zone 8a)
Sunset Zone 5. Koppen Csb. Eco 2f
I helped beta test the first seed swap Plant and/or Seed Trader Seed Starter Region: Pacific Northwest Photo Contest Winner: 2014 Vegetable Grower
Avid Green Pages Reviewer Garden Ideas: Master Level Garden Sages I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! I helped plan and beta test the plant database. Charter ATP Member
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RickCorey
Jan 8, 2014 4:42 PM CST
hazelnut said:
... provide to right conditions, (light, drainage, soil, etc), plant the plants, and then mix up a batch of compost tea, and let the party begin. Plants will attract the right microbiotics for their given situation, and the right microbes from the zillions in the compost tea will obllige.


I totally agree with that formula for a raised bed or other garden plot. You don't even need the extra step of making compost into tea. You can just top dress and water, or scratch in in a little, or turn it under, and still get half or more of the benefit that tea would given.

I've read that spraying compost tea adds protective micro-flora to leaves and stems, deterring or mitigating leaf and stem diseases.

I would also suggest collecting scoops of soil from neighbors with good soil and no obvious disease problems. Then top-dress beds with that neighborhood-inoculum , or add it to your compost pile before making tea.

You might import a few disease spores, but you would have gotten those anyway from wind-blown dust. And the aerobic process of composting and making tea would tend to knock down anaerobic disease microbes, anyway. (Not all harmful microbes are low-oxygen bugs, and not all aerobes are beneficial, but there seems to be a tendency that way).

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