Monday, 28 December 2015

The Soil will Save Us

Today is a guest blog from Glyn Mitchell. Promessa Soil, as a recent JEP article mentioned, is attracting widespread. Farmers and growers across Europe are now sending their soil samples to Jersey to be tested by a local company which is developing natural composts. They are also talking to farmers in Malawi.

The company is also offering courses on creating natural composts. It is not a case of "we will do it for you", but "we will also show you how you can do it yourself".

We have only to look at the green sea lettuce in St Aubin's Bay to see how chemical nitrate fertilisers cause side effects. Drinking water can also be effected by run off from fields. Nitrate can get into water directly as the result of runoff of fertilizers containing nitrate.

What alternative is there? Having listened to Glyn on a number of occasions, and seen what he and his team are doing, it is clear that there is a viable alternative, and if we are going to have better agriculture in the future, I think this is the way to go.

I would recommend anyone interested to contact him, and see how it is already starting to transform the farming of some local growers.

The Soil will Save Us
by Glyn Mitchel

WHY NOW: Soil labs have traditionally been reluctant to offer soil biology tests, partly due to costly, complicated (and outdated) methods. Renewed interest in soil quality is increasingly motivating researchers and growers. “

For too long, its been believed that soil biology is of academic interest only – or an exclusive domain of organic growing alone. But now, evidence for the direct link of nutrient release with humus carbon turnover, a biological property, obviates this view. As Dr. Haney states: “why overlook free fertilizer?”

WHY TEST SOIL MICROBES: The quantity of active soil microbes – fungi and bacteria- can be represented by actual living carbon associated with “respiring (live) cells producing CO2 within a soil systems” – from Dr Haney and Brinton.

This living microbial consortia is associated with many positive properties such as transforming chemicals, aiding pesticide degradation, facilitating the release of nitrogen from organic matter and microbial food chain, all contributing to soil aggregation. The latter property alone may account for more than 50% of soils ability to resist erosion.

WHAT’S THE BENEFIT FOR JERSEY: Many people are demanding organic, based on political, nutritional, and environmental reasons. Implicit in the reason to return to natural production methods is the fact that beneficial organisms are killed by the use of toxic chemicals, restricting plant available nutrition.

This sets up toxic chemical users to need more and more and more synthetic fertilizers to maintain the system to the point that an addiction to those toxic stimulants is formed, soil degrades and growers go bust.

Simply putting down the highest quality, most expensive soil improver in your garden is not likely to result in great plant growth, unless the correct microbes are present. Beneficial bacteria and fungi are needed first to degrade any residual toxic chemicals in your growing environment. Then bacteria and fungi are needed to tie-up nutrients so those nutrients are not leachable, and thus are not lost when water moves through the soil. Finally, bacteria and fungi need to be eaten by protozoa and nematodes to release tied-up nutrients N, P, K into a plant available form.

If any of the species that do this processing in your soil are missing, then we need to get them back naturally. If life is missing in your soil, we need to give Mother Nature a jumpstart to help her reestablish the normal set of organisms, and thus, reestablish normal nutrient cycling.

EDUCATION: Clearly this process involves more than simply laying down a set of mineral nutrients. We need to educate people to understand that plants can, indeed, take care of themselves without people getting in the way. No need to have complex feeding schedules and mind-boggling mathematical calculations on rates of adding nutrients or adjusting pH. Through the Promessa Soil approach, we teach growers to produce their own nutrients and a diversity of microbes to transform those nutrients and the plants do the rest.

Microbes, then, hold on to nutrients and they no longer leach from the soil, the benefits for water quality and healthier food make the process essential for a healthier life style. Microbes also restructure the soil by creating air passageways and cavities that enable water and air to be retained within the soil, so you use considerably less water. You save money, time, and energy, and the health of your plants improve.

Plants contain more nutrients and have built up their immune systems to become resistant to problem pests and diseases, leading to higher yields and plants that grow bigger and faster and provide a better return.

Benefits to L’agritchultuthe

Today’s Royals are the result of combining the best of the old with the innovation of the new. To keep Jersey farming Promessa Soil offers not only Jersey growers cost saving solutions to unhealthy and expensive chemical farming practices, as the only recognised Biological Soil Laboratory in Europe, we support a growing range of European growing systems.

Promessa Soil SFI Laboratory: Phone +44(0)1534 747819.

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