Stimulating Biology

August 28, 2023

One of the key differences in agriculture today as compared to agriculture in 1940 is that our biology has become degraded to the point where it no longer thrives. As a result, our food supply does not contain the nutrition that it used to.

What can you do to increase biology? The beneficial soil biology are much the same as humans; they need enough oxygen, water, food, and a good environment. In other words, they need breathable soils so that they can get their oxygen. They need carbon in the soil so that they can have a consistent supply of water, rather than just when it rains, they need carbohydrates as a food source, and they need a safe environment. Today I want to talk about the last two.

First the food supply; a living crop that is actively photosynthesizing is providing microbes with food. That is good and is what we need long term. If we want a faster short-term response or just to go above and beyond what the cover crop is providing, there are also other ways that we can stimulate biology such as putting out Rejuvenate at 1-4 gallons per acre.

Whatever you use, the goal should be to feed the soil biology because they are very important if we want to have healthy soil (and healthy plants). Biology release minerals and make them available to crops. They aggregate and structure soil. They help protect plants from insects and diseases.

The best time to stimulate biology is in the fall. Why? Because, for most farmers, this is when the soil is undisturbed for the longest period of time, which means that the soil biology have more time to establish themselves and speed up the reproduction process.

The second important factor is that biology needs a good environment, similar to humans. Imagine being in a closed room with an engine running: what is the end result when an engine is running indoors for long period of time and the exhaust is not turned outside? You will become very sick, or even die.

This situation is similar to what biology is experiencing in soil that has been contaminated with pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, and bactericides. You cannot expect soil biology to thrive in soils like this! They need a clean environment. What we have found to be quite effective in these challenging environments is to inoculate specific strains of biology, specifically OP-8, that help to remove hydrocarbons from the soil. Hydrocarbons are the base of most of these pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, and bactericides.

There is obviously more than one way to approach stimulating biology, including cover crops, which are important. But from a product perspective, the way we approach it is to use about 2 gallons Rejuvenate, 2 gallons SeaShield, and several ounces of Santerra per acre. The Rejuvenate is the food source, SeaShield focuses on stimulating fungi and feeding chitin, and the Santerra is a biological inoculant that adds microbes into the soil, giving your fields a head start.

These are several different situations where we might change that a little. First of all, the Rejuvenate rates can vary between 1-5 gallon per acre depending on your budget and how fast you want to see results. The SeaShield is usually the first product that we remove from the program if there are limited funds available.

Then there are the greenhouse situations that sometimes have high sodium soils; if that is the case for you, you might want to add several ounces of Spectrum DS, which is basically a combination of microbes that digest sodium, thus reducing it.

Another situation that might call for a slightly different treatment is when the soil being treated had a very high herbicide load, such as Roundup. In this case, we could add a heavier dose of Santerra or something that we have seen to be very effective is using 8 oz. OP-8, which is a blend developed for cleaning up hydrocarbons in the soil. When these hydrocarbons are removed, root growth improves dramatically. And so does biology.

The bottom line is that stimulating biology in the fall is one of the most effective practices that we have seen in our entire approach to increasing soil and plant health.

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Source: Melvin Fisher | Sponsored by Keystone Bio-Ag LLC