Soil Biology

Can Global Warming Reduce Nutrition?

According to a recent report in Science Advances (summarized in the Vox) increased atmospheric CO2, a key feature in global warming, can result in reduced crop nutrition.  They demonstrated this effect using rice, a staple crop that feeds much of the world.  This would seem threatening, since poor crop nutrition impacts food webs all the way from the soil to the plate.  Human ...

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Why Is Living Soil a Disruptive Innovation?

We know soil is alive.  Why do we treat it like dirt? The first lesson in the first soils class I ever took covered what soil is made of.  We learned soil contains minerals, air, water, organic matter, and “critters”.  Yes.  That’s right.  Critters.  All those little squirmy, wiggly things that live underground.  Bacteria.  Fungi.  Worms.  Insects. Those living things ...

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The Johnson-Su Bioreactor Enriches Beneficial Soil Fungi

Stop Turning Your Compost Composting offers a terrific way to culture native microbes that benefit your soil. However, there is more to a good compost than simply building a pile of manure or and yard waste. Proper aeration is important to prevent overheating and to ensure that aerobic microbes dominate the mixture. This is why many large scale composting facilities ...

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Microbial Analysis As a Tool for Second Responders

2017 Will Be Remembered as a Year of Disaster The year of 2017 will no doubt be remembered for its stream of natural disasters.   From the fires in Montana to the hurricanes that struck Houston and Puerto Rico…from the earthquakes in Mexico City to the floods in Peru…we are most cognizant of the disasters striking our hemisphere.  Yet we are ...

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Humic Acids and Lignins: Prebiotics for Soil

Humic Acids and Lignins are like Prebiotics for Soil

Every grower knows beneficial microbes like rhizobia and mycorrhizal fungi can help plants produce strong, resistant, and resilient crops.  Many growers know that having the right microbes in the soil can reduce or eliminate the need for chemical fertilizers and pesticides.  Far too many growers have fallen for the “bug-in-a-jug,” spending various sums of money on biofertilizers only to see ...

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Fungal Rich Compost Supports Vigorous Plant Growth

Fungal superhighways operate underground to decompose minerals and nutrients from soil and deliver them to plants.  For this reason, fungi are powerful, yet too often overlooked additions to plant production.  Many industrial agricultural techniques damage these fungal communities, resulting in less than optimal crop yields, reduced crop nutrition, and increased need for agrochemicals.  As a result, many organic farmers, and even ...

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What Exactly is a Biological Soil Crust?

Soil Crusts are Tiny Communities that Can Help You Build Healthy Soil Did you ever walk out in the desert following a rainstorm?  If so, you may have noticed a thin black or green layer  on the surface of the soil.   Of course. you may have noticed a sprinkling of dry, black powder on the soil surface on a sunny day too, ...

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Growing Organic Blackberries in the Desert Requires an Emphasis on Soil Microbiology

Who says you can’t grow blackberries in the desert?  South of the Organ Mountains, near Vado, New Mexico, soils are characterized by heavy calcium carbonate (aka caliche) deposits on or near the surface.  This caliche becomes sticky when wet, binding together to form an impervious, concrete-like layer that water cannot easily drain through. The natural soil pH is between 8 ...

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