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The truth about Dynamic Accumulators: Science is needed!  RSS feed

 
Mother Tree
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I think these are the right ones - please correct me if I'm wrong and I'll try again.
 
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That's them! Thanks so much Burra. What a great help.
 
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Holy cow, thats amazing! Maybe not the best news, but perhaps a question to ask would be regarding 'dynamic heavy metal accumulators'?

Hmmm. Thats a good band name.
 
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This topic has gone in a lot of different directions, which is great. But to me, it has strayed from the original problem, which in my mind is fairly straightforward.

A couple of assumptions: (i) I don't believe anyone here, or even in mainstream academia, would question the concept of succession. That is, the ability of a floral ecosystem broadly defined - lichen, fungi, bacteria, plants, protozoans, etc, to build soil fertility OVER TIME...The ability to access mineral nutrients from bedrock, carbon and nitrogen from the atmosphere and to accumulate those nutrients in the soil over generations...Its a fairly well documented process; (ii) I don't think anyone here or in mainstream academia would question the ability of a healthy well established soil food web to recycle a significant percentage of nutrients from decaying plant matter on an ongoing basis.

What HAS BEEN QUESTIONED, in the original post and the articles referenced by that post is this: Permaculture teaches that a SPECIFIC SUBSET OF PLANTS are ESPECIALLY WELL ADAPTED, based on their long taproots or other features, to accumulating nutrients faster / in higher quantities / from different sources than other plants. Permaculture literature therefore encourages practitioners to devote valuable space and time to plant and tend THOSE SPECIFIC PLANTS. What is apparently emerging is that there isn't any hard data to support the original assumption that those specific plants are any better than any other plants at accumulating nutrients.

So, we don't need to test the concept of succession. We don't need to test whether a healthy soil food web is capable of recycling nutrients. But I think it is fair to test the concept of dynamic accumulators - whether specific plants are better than other plants at accumulating nutrients, and therefore whether they deserve the extra effort to plant. And in my mind doing so is fairly straightforward - plant the specimen in question in a test plot and measure its impact on the soil over time against a control plot....
 
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Pokachinni, you never implied that people should ignore the concept of dynamic accumulators completely but you did say, "there is no science showing that those concentrated nutrients thus deposited are actually available to other plants upon decomposition" ... and if memory serves me Kitsteiner did suggest that people should stop teaching it. MikeH (your first link) says they can be ignored, and Kourik and the other proponents are backing away. Rather than encourage them to back away, I'm saying, "Great job, Bob."

Saying we need more data sounds a bit like climate change deniers, when there are already "mountains" of data...and sounds like those who can't accept Natural Selection when there are several "missing links" and 157 year's worth of nothing but supporting evidence.

How long before there is a measureable effect, is certainly a valid question. We know it takes some time, that's why I applied small amounts of Borax and Azomite on my property. This was not because it was necessary but because I'm impatient- figured it ought to jumpstart the soil-building process after the previous owners tried growing corn, then mined the soil with alfalfa for a few years. How long does decomposition take? A while...some things take longer than others. (shrug) That's a good enough answer for me.

This Accumulators hypothesis seems very much like Permaculture in that it's nothing new, just some things that we already know brought together, articulated well, and put in a slightly different context. Oh, and I forgot to mention plant tissue analysis earlier. Phytoaccumulation, plant tissue analysis, and decomposition- bing bang boom, done deal as far as I'm concerned. Seems to me, not spending money on soil amendments is the whole point of utilizing the concept of dynamic accumulators. That, and changing how we think about fertilizer and minerals in the soil generally.

I mentioned the development of prairie soils to make the point that no inputs were necessary then, and they're not necessary now. The fertility that's there came from the parent material(s). That we are unable to create or destroy matter or energy is not an assumption, it's the First Law of Thermodynamics. This was to, sort of, echo what Elaine Ingham says- you won't run out of fertility as long as you still have some sand, silt, and clay. Also I mentioned that law to respond to your question regarding Selenium- if it's not there, no plant will magically make it appear; you will have to import some or do without.

I agree with Peter Ellis's posts above regarding the unhealthy obsession, and I agree with Wheaton who said in a podcast something like (paraphrasing), "in some ways anecdotal evidence is even better than, say, a double-blind highly structured study because it's real world data rather than a contrived experiment." There's probably no study thoroughly demonstrating that one should look both ways before crossing the street, but we can "put two and two together" to determine that looking both ways is wise. I wouldn't tell anyone not to teach others to look both ways, just because I can't find a peer-reviewed study on the subject.

I assume (perhaps unfairly) that someone like Kitsteiner, an M.D., has plenty of cash. Why not do your own study, John? Or finance someone else who has the time, the stats background, etc.? Many would welcome it.

If I were to study whether the nettles and lambsquarters are improving the soil in the berm below my recently-constructed terrace, I would have to somehow exclude all the birds, my cat, etc. that spend a lot of time in there poopin' all over...and that would be purt near impossible, I reckon.

Attached is a screenshot of one of Jerry Brunetti's presentations. I don't know if this will be considered good enough, but he seemed like a smart dude to me- I believe his numbers. It's something that I want to look into more someday.
Brunetti-nutritious-weeds.png
[Thumbnail for Brunetti-nutritious-weeds.png]
 
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I'm not particularly inclined to read the 10,000 plus words that stand on the front page of this topic, so apologies if this post is mildly redundant.

Is this skepticism based on needing scientific trials on everything under the sun, a denial that some plants uptake more nutrients than others, or that nutrients that were previously available to the living plant within it's system, somehow become locked up again once decomposition occurs? Because to me, saying that dynamic accumulators are ineffectual defies logic however you look at it.

Do you measure the time it takes for general compost to be available to your plants? How about plant teas(http://www.permies.com/t/26359/permaculture/Liquid-fertilizer-weeds-true)? Wood chips too(Back to Eden gardening)? Because they're all forms of accumulating nutrients in order for them to be released later.

And just as each method supplies different levels of nutrients, so do different forms of organic matter/plants. Dynamic Accumulators are only an assortment of plants that happen to be more mineral rich than if you were say... applying lettuce leaves to the base of your plants.

It's unfortunate that scientific research has become so reliant on empirical studies, that an actual understanding of underlying concepts and cause/effect is completely ignored. Next thing you know we'll be needing scientific studies for all things common sense.
 
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I've been off grid, way off (no internet and limited solar power in a snowy, cloudy, narrow valley), for the last ten days (looking after a homestead after work, involving a long commute) , so I apologize for not responding to any of this. Thank you all for posting.

#1, I want to thank, especially, Robert Kourik for entering this discussion, although, I would like to hear more about what, exactly he is up to in regards to studying this subject, and what exactly is drawing him to pursue this topic, and what is drawing him towards the conclusion that he wished he never published these Dynamic Accumulator tables (as mentioned in a quote from toby hemenway). When I read Guerric Kendall's question, which I quote here:

Is this skepticism based on needing scientific trials on everything under the sun, a denial that some plants uptake more nutrients than others, or that nutrients that were previously available to the living plant within it's system, somehow become locked up again once decomposition occurs?

I wonder what you might say to this, Robert? I'm also really curious about what you wrote in your initial post, since it is not referenced directly to the study in question.

I was able to find a study that showed that the immobilized tannins prepared from lateral roots of comfrey chelated (pulled out) 3.5 times more lead from the soil than those from the taproots. Yikes—comfrey as a lead-accumulator plant!

When I read this part of your initial post, all I could think of is that what you said in this post does not make me think that comfrey is a lead accumulator, per se. Comfrey may very well be a lead accumulator but from what you wrote, I wouldn't draw that conclusion. Unless you are leaving out something, from what I can read from what you wrote, it would seem that the lead accumulation in the lateral roots is only being compared by ratio to that which accumulates in the taproot, not to other plants, or to anything else. It's like me saying (pardon my crude analogy) that my liver accumulates more vitamin X than my Kidneys, and then claim that my body in general hyper accumulates vitamine X better than say a chimpanzee's body, or a rat's body, or a pig's body. Crude analogy, yes, but I like to not be confused about what the ratios in question are actually revealing statistically. Maybe I'm splitting hairs?

#2, In regards to what this post is about. I guess, that seems to be up for debate as well, but since I started it, I think the real topic was about the fact that Robert K, Toby H, Eric T, as well as others who have large permacultural followings are questioning the data that they had been distributing, and they were saying that science was required to gain data to ensure that accurate information be distributed. The purpose of the thread was really to alert people to the fact that the people who published the information on this-and put it out to the permaculture community on a large scale-are questioning the data, and are saying that science is needed. The thread has gone in another direction, that I was involved with, in regards to creating some kind of study plan, in order that we may get some data in a straight forward, farm based format that is also scientific with the help of lab analysis.

It's unfortunate that scientific research has become so reliant on empirical studies, that an actual understanding of underlying concepts and cause/effect is completely ignored.

I personally do not feel that the science that we have been discussing using regarding dynamic accumulator plants is completely ignoring cause/effect. In fact good science relies on cause and effect, and empirical analysis of the data collected.

#3, There has been, and continues to be a vocal contingent of permies who think, for one reason or many, that science is not needed, and are in fact vehemently opposed to a scientific element in this topic. There seems to be an element to some of these posts that lead me to believe that there is a reason to fear science being involved in finding facts regarding accumulator plants, but there is no information given about the basis for this fear that I am reading from these posters.[maybe I'm just reading the fear into these posts?]0 There seems also to be an element to some of these posts that is strongly defending the idea of the anecdotal evidence and the folkloric wisdom of the ages on the subject of dynamic accumulators, and using this defense to further the argument against the need for scientific inquiry, which is not at all what this post is about. Nobody is ignoring the folkloric wisdom or anecdotal evidence, but there seems to be a need for more information than the current level of data from the accumulated wisdom is able to provide by the very people who are responsible for disseminating the information into the modern realm in the first place, and who also have a large number of people following what they think on the topic.

I'm not sure how to deal with these elements (listed in #3) to this thread, since clearly I would rather stick to the topic of this thread (listed in #2), while at the same time I would like to not offend those people who's contributions to Permies-and to the subject of dynamic accumulators-is valuable. The subject line of this thread does read "Science is needed!" and I guess that lends itself to this statement being argued by those that disagree. Sigh. It would be really nice if the science oriented permies, like R. Kourik, or Permies who published information about dynamic accumulators like T. Hemenway, and E. Toensmeier, would help balance this debate with their reasons and reasoning as to why they think more science is needed. Robert?

If I was to argue about this at all, I would have to try to balance my thoughts in such a manner: I'm not saying that the folkloric history of dynamic accumulators is false, but I'm not saying that I believe or accept all folkloric evidence, blindly, without question, either. The Earth is not flat, and the Sun does not revolve around the Earth, contrary to the opinion and the accumulated knowledge of my historical knowledge tree (European) that held these beliefs, unquestioned, for centuries, but were proven false. I'm not saying that anything is false, or true, at this point, but that science is sometimes needed even if we think that there are enough "facts" already. It may be unfair to use the analogy of medieval concepts of the Earth and solar system astronomy to prove my point that science could be useful, but I think that it might just be accurate enough in the truth that it imparts to get to the crux of the point. Just because something is widely believed for a long time (and to the untrained eye, it may indeed seem exactly so) does not make it true (factual), or that it should not ever be studied to be verified, or disproved.

I might post more tomorrow in regards to these other posts, but I have to get up early to go to work so I'm done tonight.
 
Roberto pokachinni
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Ok, so I'm going to respond further to some of the other posts that have accumulated in this thread in the last week or so, specifically the last post by Noel, which I have not addressed.

So I will quote part of Noel's post and then comment.

Saying we need more data sounds a bit like climate change deniers, when there are already "mountains" of data...and sounds like those who can't accept Natural Selection when there are several "missing links" and 157 year's worth of nothing but supporting evidence.

The interesting thing is there is not mountains of data about when accumulated minerals are available. There doesn't seem to be much at all. The data is, what would be called in the court of law, circumstantial, and/or speculative.

How long before there is a measureable effect, is certainly a valid question.

I appreciate you saying this, since that is basically what I'm focusing on here.

How long does decomposition take? A while...some things take longer than others. (shrug) That's a good enough answer for me.

Perhaps it is good enough for you, and it is actually good enough for me too (as I have mentioned), but it is not good enough for some people who are scientifically minded, or who have published speculative data and are now reconsidering this move.

Phytoaccumulation, plant tissue analysis, and decomposition- bing bang boom, done deal as far as I'm concerned.

So, if you are OK with the plant tissue analysis then why not periodic soil analysis to show the availability of decomposed materials over time? Again, I appreciate the 'as far as I'm concerned element here-and I agree with it-I guess the point is that sometimes, and with some people this 'bing bang boom' scenario might not be enough.

I mentioned the development of prairie soils to make the point that no inputs were necessary then, and they're not necessary now. The fertility that's there came from the parent material(s). That we are unable to create or destroy matter or energy is not an assumption, it's the First Law of Thermodynamics. This was to, sort of, echo what Elaine Ingham says- you won't run out of fertility as long as you still have some sand, silt, and clay. Also I mentioned that law to respond to your question regarding Selenium- if it's not there, no plant will magically make it appear; you will have to import some or do without.

There is nothing in this quote that I disagree with. The only comment that I will make is that I should not have mentioned my selenium deficiency without putting it more into context of why I mentioned it, which isn't why you were thinking it. I mentioned it because I haven't tested my land for anything, but have heard that the whole region is selenium deficient. I have Absolutely No expectation what-so-ever that a dynamic accumulator will create the element Selenium where it does not exist. I must import it if I want it. I was considering finding an organic farmer on the other side of the Rocky's where Selenium is plentiful and where the dynamic accumulator of Selenium (like Indian Paintbrush) exists in abundance, and getting some bales of this crop to bring to my compost heap... but that is a bit of a future pipe dream...

I agree with Wheaton who said in a podcast something like (paraphrasing), "in some ways anecdotal evidence is even better than, say, a double-blind highly structured study because it's real world data rather than a contrived experiment."

I think that we can have real world data that is also kind of a double blind study. It's not a double blind study, with super controls in place, but that doesn't mean it can't have a further element of science to it that helps us to understand things further. I want the random rat poop, and owl reguritate pellet in there. The purpose of this thread, the main thing I was posting this for was to make people aware that maybe, just maybe, the anecdotal evidence should be looked into a bit, for the sake of having some solid facts; because we might be believing in something that isn't really as valid as we thought. I'm not saying that we should ignore anecdotal evidence completely, but that we should maybe use the anecdotal format of the family farm as part of the experiment, so that we have such a wide range of data sources that the facts can be averaged out to actually prove something via analysis.

If I were to study whether the nettles and lambsquarters are improving the soil in the berm below my recently-constructed terrace, I would have to somehow exclude all the birds, my cat, etc. that spend a lot of time in there poopin' all over...and that would be purt near impossible, I reckon.

I'm not proposing that you (or the people who would be willing to be a part of an experiment) would need to create a lab environment and have those sorts of controls. I do appreciate that the garden is a very complex laboratory, and appreciate you pointing it out. I would rather that such random elements were actually included (and possibly recorded if observed, "cat fecal deposit in plot A this year"), but I am proposing that if many people were to document what is happening in their garden-and testing the soil annually-then we could get an average of data that would actually show us things about the decomposition rates and availability of these minerals over time, without being freakishly 'scientific' about it.

Thanks for posting Brunetti's presentation. I will look into it.






 
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I would again like to direct your attention to some who are trying to gather data on this topic.
[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/user/stephenlegaree14[/youtube]
[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCv9ITE5nuShQ37Xd-NVkdcg[/youtube]
Home garden field trials where they are discussed.
 
Roberto pokachinni
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Thanks Hans. I did watch that video when you posted the link before. I watched it again and posted a question there, just now.
 
Roberto pokachinni
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Here is a direct link to the comfrey trial by Alberta Urban Garden: comfrey link
 
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Robert et al

From the talk of DA (I've just read the whole thread) I can only think there must be something unspoken that everybody else knows - or maybe I'm just slow. Assume that DA works great. That means that there is now _less_ nutrients in the soil because the plant pulled them into it's fiber. Right? Even if plant decay puts them back into the soil _and_ they become useable again (after some unknown period of time), there still won't be any more than we started with... ?

So. Who cares how much nutrient the plant can sequester in its fiber? There still won't be any extra and in fact there will be less until the fibers decay sufficiently. The end result is that the plant has actually reduced soil nutrients by the amount sequestered in it's fibers and, assuming more plants will be grown continuously, this deficit will grow or at least remain steady. From the way DA is (mostly) spoken of in this thread, it appears that you must expect the DA plant to create nutrients that were not there before...

Unless. The plant IMPORTS nutrients. I'm _guessing_ that people who speak of DA are _assuming_ that the "DA plant" is importing nutrients from outside the system. It appears that your soil universe system stops at 24" depth and that anything the plant gets from below that is considered "free" input. Creation of matter (in this case nutrients) as it were. Do I have this right? It's not just a matter of storing nutrients, it a matter if IMPORTING nutrients into the little soil universe?

If that is the case, it seems to me that you would really _really_ want to know where those nutrients you think are found in the plant fibers are coming from - is the plant just recycling nutrients from the soil around it (and thus reducing the soil's nutrient conctent) or is it actually bringing in nutrients from the "outside world" below 24"? So it's not really just a matter of how much nutrient is found in the plant fiber - that by itself is almost meaningless. You want to know how much of that nutrient is coming from your surrounding soil (depleting it) and how much the plant imports from "outside". Only the latter amount will actually improve your soil's nutrient count - eventually.

And to someone who questioned why bother w/these difficult details: Because AFIAK nobody here is Superman or Trump. Most farms exist close to the edge and any legitimate edge in knowledge can make a real difference. Besides, some people just like to understand their world - helps them appreciate it more.


Rufus
 
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An interesting question about where the nutrients are coming from. Plants take the minerals from the soil, use them for a time, then release them back into the soil as they decompose - or at least that's my oversimplified understanding of the theory. If that's what all plants do, what's the point of Dynamic Accumulators? What makes them so special?

For me, and I'm totally oversimplifying it here, Dynamic Accumulators are plants that absorb trace nutrients from deep in the soil, much deeper than most ordinary plants can reach. The leaves fall off, decompose, and release these nutrients back into the soil... and here's the vital bit... they release the minerals on top of the soil, where their leaves are decomposing. These minerals or whatever, that were too deep for most plants to reach, are now on the surface, where most plants can get at them. Like I said, totally oversimplified.

At least that's the theory behind Dynamic Accumulators.

What this thread is about, is how do we know which plants absorb what nutrients. So, if for example, my herb garden is suffering from a lack of calcium, but I know there is layer of rock/soil that has lots of calcium really far down in the soil... what plants can I grow that will grow deep roots, bring that calcium up into their leaves, so that the calcium can decompose on the surface of the soil and help my other plants? Do some plants do this better than others? Do some plants need a specific lichen or other symbiotic relationship to make this work? How can we discover this information? That's what we are interested in here.

That's why we want to know "how much nutrient the plant can sequester in its fiber."
It's not that they are creating these nutrients from thin air, but that they can extract deep nutrients and make them available to other plants with shallow roots.
 
Hans Quistorff
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Therefor trees are dynamic accumulators. The edge effect; shallower rooted plants on the south side of trees benefit from this accumulation. The links I posted they took the leaves and composted leaf to the lab for annalisis to determine if it provided sufficient nutrients for vegetable growing.

Therefore data can be accumulated with soil test when a guild is planted noting what plants are incorporated, order and spacing then test periodically the nutrients available in the soil from the accumulated debris.
Judging just by plant growth has confounding factors such as water retention, wind protection and temperature modulation. The question posed seems to be: Do the desired minerals accumulate in the top soil, at what rate and availability over what time frame and soil biota.
 
Roberto pokachinni
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Hi Rufus Laggren. Thanks for joining this discussion. I will quote some of your post down below and try to explain what I think about it.

But first, thanks for responding R Ranson. I think your description is pretty fair, but some of what you wrote may not be accurate from what I understand. I will quote and comment down below.

I would say that there is a lot at play in the complex dynamics of soil/plant interfaces that are not readily understood. Here's my take on what we think we know.

There is the mineral soil composed of sand, silt, and clay, and larger substrates of pebbles, rocks, boulders, and bedrock. This is non living material, but it is the source of most of the minerals that are used by plants. According to Elaine Ingham, if there are minerals to be made available to the plants from local sources, this is it, and it is an infinite source, only limited by what is available in the mineral base of the region.

There is never more minerals being made by plants or by fungi or anything. All of them come from the soil aggregates. The atmospheric elements (gasses) are also present on the surface of the upper plants, and in the porous structure of the litter and soil matrix. Water brings in hydrogen and oxygen as well. These all are the 'importers' of elements into the system.

Some of the minerals and gasses used by plants arrive in the form of animal feces, and blown in leaf litter, which were gathered from slightly further away. Some of it is from plants that deposit material at their bases right on the spot, as they go through their life cycle. The soil surface is littered with material like this that is in various stages of decomposition, including the bodies and excretions of insects, mammals, birds, et cetera. Some available plant food is made up of these organic compounds as they break down into soluble forms. Often the lower you go into this upper layer of the soil, the more decomposition has taken place, and the more potentially available those nutrients are. The more intact the soil food web is, the more likely that fungi, bacteria, micro algae, nematodes, and worms will be inoculating and breaking down those materials with their life processes. Sometimes these are in soluble form and it is available to plants or at least to the soil food web that feeds plants. Sometimes the compounds are not soluble, but are instead in complex molecules that can not be readily made useful to plants. Sometimes the nutrients, soluble or insoluble, are leached deep into the soil matrix by rain.

The complicated living interconnected multi-web of beings form communities that interact with plant surfaces and mineral aggregate surfaces, and form relationships with individual plants and communities of plants. In most cases, plants have relationships with specific fungi in this web; and through that relationship the plant provides sugars from photosynthesis to fungi which in turn provide minerals and trace nutrients to the plant. This is the main nutrient draw for most garden plants, besides atmospheric carbon, and the nitrogen that has to be fixed by bacteria which are symbiotic on leguminous roots.

Some plants that we know of as Dynamic Accumulators (DA) concentrate nutrients (particularly minerals, but sometimes also atmospheric gasses) in their bodies, and as their body parts decompose, the minerals or elements thus accumulated then become available to the soil food web and then to the local plant communities-That's the DA theory. So when R Ranson wrote this

Dynamic Accumulators are plants that absorb trace nutrients from deep in the soil, much deeper than most ordinary plants can reach.

I have to write that it is uncertain whether these nutrients are always being mined from deeper in the soil than other plants or from the same or similar layers to other garden plants. Many DA plants have tap roots and so it is assumed that the longer roots are the mining agent, bringing up minerals that are not available to other plants from deep in the soil. This may be the case, but as Robert Kourik noted in his post, the comfrey in the study he was looking at was accumulating more minerals in it's lateral roots.

R.Ranson wrote:

So, if for example, my herb garden is suffering from a lack of calcium, but I know there is layer of rock/soil that has lots of calcium really far down in the soil... what plants can I grow that will grow deep roots, bring that calcium up into their leaves, so that the calcium can decompose on the surface of the soil and help my other plants? Do some plants do this better than others? Do some plants need a specific lichen or other symbiotic relationship to make this work? How can we discover this information? That's what we are interested in here.

I would add that an important factor that was missed in this quote is that we are also interested in the fact that the insoluble minerals that are trapped in complex molecules may not be biologically available in this form. Thus calcium in this form, though decomposed from the accumulator plant, sits dormant for a time as an insoluble molecule in the matrix of the upper horizons of the soil (or is potentially leached into the subsoil aggregates by rain), and it is unclear when that insoluble calcium material becomes available to the greater soil food web, and thus to local plants.

So Rufus, I will quote you now and discuss more of what you wrote.

It appears that your soil universe system stops at 24" depth and that anything the plant gets from below that is considered "free" input. Creation of matter (in this case nutrients) as it were. Do I have this right? It's not just a matter of storing nutrients, it a matter if IMPORTING nutrients into the little soil universe?

The living soil goes as deep as plant roots and earthworms and other soil creatures live in the non living soil. This can be very deep, depending on trees roots, worm species, and deep rooted herbaceous plants. Some people would include burrowing rodents, snakes, and other animals in this matrix of interactions which add depth to soil systems. The soil system, as you are viewing it, is probably relating to the primary humus layer where most garden plants have their root systems. Nutrients, as I have mentioned, are found in the mineral aggregates and the atmospheric gasses and water, and are generally made available to plants through the complex life and death interactions of the soil food web. These minerals are present at all depths, but the gasses and the microbes tend to be present in the upper layers (sometimes this is less than 24 inches, sometimes more, depending on the ecological system). All microbes in the soil food web 'breath' in and out gasses as they go through their life functions, just like plants and people do. Those interactions, as well as the mining of minerals cycle nutrients in the soil communities and into plants. There is no importation beyond this. A bird might excrete something on the surface from far away, but ultimately that source is the same set of sources already mentioned.

If that is the case, it seems to me that you would really _really_ want to know where those nutrients you think are found in the plant fibers are coming from - is the plant just recycling nutrients from the soil around it (and thus reducing the soil's nutrient conctent) or is it actually bringing in nutrients from the "outside world" below 24"? So it's not really just a matter of how much nutrient is found in the plant fiber - that by itself is almost meaningless. You want to know how much of that nutrient is coming from your surrounding soil (depleting it) and how much the plant imports from "outside". Only the latter amount will actually improve your soil's nutrient count - eventually.

This is an interesting set of points, and I like that you are really exploring this in a unique way, but I can't say that it makes sense to me the way you are viewing it; when you say that the nutrient content of the plant fibre is meaningless, I think this misses the point. I think that R Ranson discussed this well so I won't go further on that. There is a possibility that a plant will drain the nutrients that might otherwise be available to a nearby plant, but that is the potential case with any plants in close association; but it is not necessarily a problem-some plants do better in close relation with companion plants. As far as I can wrap my brain around it there is nothing that reduces the soil's nutrient content, except removing the plants for export sales, leaching nutrients into the water table, or surface erosion. I agree that it would be very useful to know from what layer and area the accumulated minerals were being mined from.

Assume that DA works great. That means that there is now _less_ nutrients in the soil because the plant pulled them into it's fiber. Right? Even if plant decay puts them back into the soil _and_ they become useable again (after some unknown period of time), there still won't be any more than we started with

I think I explained that there is not less or more nutrients because of accumulators. Things are moved around, and accumulated, but are not made less or more. What we assume the DA's do is accumulate a mineral in ratios that are quite high compared with the local soil material and plant tissues, and this accumulated mineral can hopefully become available to other plants that need it through the soil food web. The questions are: what is being accumulated and when is it available to other plants?

Does that clarify things for you?
 
r ranson
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Roberto, thank you for such an in depth and thoughtful reply.

I like the way you expanded on my post. I fully acknowledge that I sacrificed accuracy in favour of simplicity. Thanks for clarifying the points I missed.


Something you said that caught the attention of my coffee deprived brain this morning. I found it really interesting ...

... that the insoluble minerals that are trapped in complex molecules may not be biologically available in this form. Thus calcium in this form, though decomposed from the accumulator plant, sits dormant for a time as an insoluble molecule in the matrix of the upper horizons of the soil (or is potentially leached into the subsoil aggregates by rain), and it is unclear when that insoluble calcium material becomes available to the greater soil food web, and thus to local plants.



This reminds me of the ferns I talked about at the start of the thread. The ones that only grow on rocks, or in the crooks of maple trees in a specific forest with loads of calcium from the dead salmon. The thought is that the lichen and moss play a vital part in making the calcium available, especially when the fern is growing directly on rock. I don't think it's fully known yet, which plant (I'm pretending lichen is a plant for now) is doing what, but they are always together. Take one away, like if the air quality gets too bad for the lichen to thrive, then the other two suffer and eventually die.

Then again, according to Pojar and Mackinnon (Plants of Coastal British Columbia) the fern is primarily epiphytic - meaning (again, oversimplifying) that it gets most of it's nutrients from the air. So maybe the surface it grows on is purely coincidental... but then why not grow on other rocks or trees with lower calcium profiles? If I was more sciency, I would look into it further... but alas, today I'm interplanting fava beans among my kale, and taking advantage of the good weather to get some farmwork done, just as soon as I get some coffee in me.
 
Roberto pokachinni
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Therefor trees are dynamic accumulators.

Yes.

Therefore data can be accumulated with soil test when a guild is planted noting what plants are incorporated, order and spacing then test periodically the nutrients available in the soil from the accumulated debris.

That's the science layout that makes the most sense to me. We don't have to be any more exact than that, as far as I know, so long as we have lots of data from lots of sources.

The question posed seems to be: Do the desired minerals accumulate in the top soil, at what rate and availability over what time frame and soil biota.

Exactly.
 
Roberto pokachinni
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R Ranson, Can you tell me the species name of that fern. Plant of Coastal B.C. is a fantastic resource! It may very well be that these locations also accumulate bird droppings as they are ideal perches. Some calcium rich rock breaks down pretty easily in water. It may be that this fern has a symbiotic relationship with a fungi or bacteria that specifically work on the calcium to make it available. I was once asked to fall some trees for a fence line through a forest, and when I was bucking the large poplar tree up to be able to move it out of the way, I came to a crook in the tree that had accumulated leafs that had broken down. A robin or some other bird must have dropped an earthworm there by mistake, and the soil mass 30 feet up a tree was seething with worms! That was extreme and rare for sure, but pretty wild! You never know for sure what is going on with any single plant, but I wonder what is going on with that fern.
 
r ranson
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Very cool about the worms.

The common name here is Liquorice Fern. I think it's Polypodium glycyrrhiza. All I know for certain is that it's really yummy to munch on the rhizomes (fern root thingys).

My info about it comes from the Natural History Society (albeit a bit dated) as well as discussions with local naturalists - I'm not sciency, so I can't say with certainty what's going on with this fern. There is simply a correlation in how this fern grows locally. Around here it only seems to grow on a specific kind of rock, or where the soil is very high in calcium - like a salmon spawning ground. And it only is seen to grow with a specific moss and lichen... at least around here. I find this constant correlation very interesting.
 
Roberto pokachinni
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The common name here is Liquorice Fern. I think it's Polypodium glycyrrhiza. All I know for certain is that it's really yummy to munch on the rhizomes (fern root thingys).

I am familiar. I lived on Haida Gwaii and in the Vancouver area for years. A great hiking treat.
 
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Roberto

Sorry for castrating your name at the start of my last post. Ouch. <g>

Appreciate your detailed explication - a beautiful and, I suspect, largely complete elaboration of the plant's ecosystem. Thank you, for a small work or art.

My own approach is much more plebeian than yours and somewhat brutal toward many many details. I simplify ruthlessly to the "chase", dropping everything (hopefully) unrelated so as to highlight the features of, in this case, a DA plant that may delineate it from other plants, particularly in ways that would help understand the DA function and allow measuring it so it might become useful to a gardener making planting decisions. And also so we can more easily see the central Qs and issues and what's needed next. It's so easy to talk past each other on complex subjects.

The 24" line depth is arbitrary but the line is needed to establish the concept and set the bounds for actual measurements. It's part of saying "this is what matters", "this is where it matters". It provides a useful and needed conceptual frame to think about DA. Not exact, not even technically true, but effective real world action and understanding almost always requires serious simplification and approximation.

Kinda like Newton's physics provided a good starting point, then Einstein promulgated Relativity and then we got Quantum Physics... And I bailed about then. None of them are True but all of them work perfectly in their place.

Cheers

Rufus
 
Roberto pokachinni
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It's all good, Rufus. I appreciate your surgery, reinstating the amputated gonads of my name.

I appreciate your cutting to the chase approach, and humbly accept your compliment. Since I did not know your level of understanding in this regard, I thought that I would detail it... somewhat brutally [ ] if artfully, to lay out the... sort of up to date-ish idea of what is happening in the soil in regards to plant uptake of minerals and nutrients. My understanding of this topic is based largely on ideas from Teaming With Microbes, from the ideas of Masanobu Fukuoka and his follower Emelia Hazelip (who I had the pleasure of communicating with) .If this interests you I highly recommend This Thread , and the work of Elaine Ingham. I'm glad to be able to articulate it in a way that other's might appreciate as art. Again, thanks for the compliment.

That said, here I go again....

So your direction, seems valid:

highlight the features of, in this case, a DA plant that may delineate it from other plants, particularly in ways that would help understand the DA function and allow measuring it so it might become useful to a gardener making planting decisions.



I think the general group thought about D.A.s has been that the plants draw up concentrated nutrients into their upper bodies and thus to the upper horizons from a greater depth than most garden veggies have access to, and then deposit them on the surface (the pattern of natural mulching), as leaves and stems die off. <-this described natural activity is accelerated by the permaculture technique of chop and drop. The theory is that, not only do these plants concentrate these lower soil horizon aggregate minerals into the plant, but the dead parts of this plant are readily available to the rest of the biological community. Though this accessing depth is not proven it might actually be irrelevant if Inghams idea that the mineral soil itself-regardless of depth{I do believe}-has an infinite amount of minerals available if the Soil Organic Matter is healthy enough to access and utilize the minerals. I think that part of the D.A. theory includes the thought process that the soil surface (mulch layer) is the most natural and best place for "new" material to enter the soil, and thus allow it's nutrients to be liberated (by the most active microbial layers), and made available to the neighboring or succeeding biological community (most specifically: desired crops).

Though it is not proven where (what depth) the minerals come from, this wasn't the direction that we were heading when discussing a study; though it could be.

The idea for studying the D.A.s (that was referred to in the article and it's references that got me on this topic) is partly to understand what exactly is being accumulated by a given plant, and to find out how much of this accumulated mineral is available, and if not immediately upon decomposition, then when?

I think that the article which I quoted at the beginning of the thread also leads a person to consider the idea that perhaps a fully accomplished soil food web might access all of the nutrients for given crop plants (non hyper accumulators), and thus lead a person to think that perhaps the D.A.s are not actually necessary to bring these minerals into the upper horizon nutrient layer.

[Slightly off topic aside] : For my own purposes, oddly enough-and perhaps quite comically, most of the topics in this post and this thread in regard to D.A.s, are irrelevant as my thoughts about growing my garden are to have as much diversity as possible while building soil systems that build year after year with minimal disturbance. Diverse plant types, and heights and shapes, as well as root depths (the whole food forest idea), create as much edge in every direction as possible. This idea, in my mind, creates the most diverse biological communities, and these interact to create an extremely resilient and dynamic nutrient base. I also love the idea of chop and drop, since I like the idea of nutrient rich mulch-and not having to import it. I think that all plants can be used as chop and drop mulch, and thus add whatever it is that they accumulate (whether concentrated or not) to the mulch layer. I like the idea of using as many plants as possible, and thus the use of D.A.s would be necessary to add to the variety. I thought that it was a given that D.A.s worked exactly the way it was historically believed, and the main reason that I brought this thread up was because this information was suddenly, it seems, up for question.

[Back to the main point] :

The 24" line depth is arbitrary but the line is needed to establish the concept and set the bounds for actual measurements. It's part of saying "this is what matters", "this is where it matters". It provides a useful and needed conceptual frame to think about DA.

Because there seems to be a belief that the plants accumulate certain minerals and that those minerals are deposited on the surface-either due to natural life death processes or through chop and drop interventions, I would say that two feet down might be too deep to take samples to do the tests. I don't know.

This is just my thoughts.

I would think that the upper six inches would be a better place to do it.

What do other's think?
 
Hans Quistorff
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? Do the deep roots pick up minerals from that depth or do they simply create osmotic pressure so that water is absorbed across cell membranes that would tend to limit mineral absorption?

I would like to see some controlled studies that compare how much mineral absorption there is without other soil life. Elaine Ingham refers to this absorption through other soil life but I do not recall a comparitive mineral analysis.
 
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I would say that two feet down might be too deep to take samples to do the tests. I don't know...

...I would think that the upper six inches would be a better place to do it.



As Ingham, and others have pointed out, these accumulated nutrients in the decomposing plants are not available to other plants until after the SFW (soil food web) has consumed them, and through their various cycles, converted them back into a form that is accessible to the next generation of plants.

The entire process is dependent on having a vibrant, balanced SFW to perform this task. I feel that the majority of this SFW is concentrated near the surface. The deeper one digs, the less life will be encountered. Therefore, whatever is accumulated by deep roots would likely be what has leached downwards by either a weak SFW, or insufficient new growth near the surface to utilize it.

Where deep rooted species are most valuable is when these nutrients have leached out of the upper zone used by the current crops. This would typically be in a new planting area that had been somewhat fallow. In a well established guild, after several years of these cycles, I would presume that there would be few nutrients remaining at the lower depths. Once the guild is mature, and the SFW is well established, most of these nutrients will be recycled into the new growth, with very little leaching downward. At this point, I don't feel that deep rooted species will be gathering much, but they will still be depositing organic material (sloughed off roots), and keeping oxygen/water channels open. But, they would be gathering very little from deep down. They have fulfilled their function as a succession species, and perhaps now it is time to look for a different species to function in the next phase.

 
Roberto pokachinni
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Hi Hans,

do they simply create osmotic pressure so that water is absorbed across cell membranes that would tend to limit mineral absorption?

I'm not sure about this. It sounds plausible but I don't have much knowledge of this osmotic pressure process. Is this something that Ingham has explained; if so, I think I missed it. Can you link me to that info, wherever you got it?

I would like to see some controlled studies that compare how much mineral absorption there is without other soil life. Elaine Ingham refers to this absorption through other soil life but I do not recall a comparitive mineral analysis.

I'm not sure what you are suggesting? Do you mean to plant a comfrey root in sterilized soil, or are you meaning just generally poor soil? I don't recall any comparative analysis in the work that I read either.

Hi John,

I feel that the majority of this SFW is concentrated near the surface. The deeper one digs, the less life will be encountered.

That is my thought and experience. Excepting that the upper most layer, being mulch/debris, contains too much air and is too dry; As this surface layer interfaces with more and more living biology, with soil structure, and consistent moisture, the soil activity really begins to take off, and in the first few inches, seems to be booming-but then it slowly but surely dwindles as we go deeper into soils that are increasingly dominated by minerals rather than biology.

Therefore, whatever is accumulated by deep roots would likely be what has leached downwards by either a weak SFW, or insufficient new growth near the surface to utilize it.

I'm not sure about this. The way I see it, there is a possibility that these accumulator plants might gain their characteristics as accumulators because they have a stronger affiliation for microbial communities, or a better gathering mechanism to build such communities, as their root systems rapidly develop. In this way, the deeper roots, or the spreading roots, or whatever the characteristics of the accumulator plant's roots, form these microbial communities around them, and those roots are able to access mineral nutrients from the subsoil-or even from the upper soil horizons-better than most other plants. Therefor it might not be leached nutrients, but simply accessed aggregate minerals. This is just my theory that was formed somewhat recently as these thoughts of microbes have interfaced with my past research, and I'm not at all sure that it has any more validity than the scenario you posed-which is what I had thought as well for years in the past. It may very well be that both processes are at play, or that my theory has no validity. I do like what you had to say, John, and I appreciate that you wrote it, as I had failed to mention it in my detailed descriptions above.

From the information that I have accumulated in my mind and tried to distill in some small part here, I'm not sure about this aspect:

Where deep rooted species are most valuable is when these nutrients have leached out of the upper zone used by the current crops. This would typically be in a new planting area that had been somewhat fallow. In a well established guild, after several years of these cycles, I would presume that there would be few nutrients remaining at the lower depths. Once the guild is mature, and the SFW is well established, most of these nutrients will be recycled into the new growth, with very little leaching downward.

Perhaps it is not that I do not agree with this, but that I am not sure that leaching can be entirely eliminated. I think that it is a natural part of the rain/earth/plant interface. Excessive leaching, of course-or however, can be exacerbated by poor horticultural/agricultural/animal husbandry or other land use practices. I think climax vegetation, in the case of deep rooted perennials of many sorts including trees, would virtually eliminate leaching, but that most horticultural systems, unless many decades old and 'forest gardenesque' or at least many years old and very heavily mulched, would likely still have a larger degree of leaching than we might imagine. Again this is just my personal thoughts and theories based on reading in forestry/Ag/horticulture/soil science.

At this point, I don't feel that deep rooted species will be gathering much, but they will still be depositing organic material (sloughed off roots), and keeping oxygen/water channels open. But, they would be gathering very little from deep down. They have fulfilled their function as a succession species, and perhaps now it is time to look for a different species to function in the next phase.

I'm not sure about this either. Although this may be true of some species, I think that their will always be a need for these types of plants (I understand that comfrey, in it's natural state, for instance, is a plant of mature riparian zones). Though they are perhaps most useful-or most dramatically demonstrated as useful-during the pioneer stages of soil/garden development, I think that the types of functions that accumulator plants seem to fulfill have demonstrable effects (besides what you describe) in mature systems as well. The access of nutrients and water from lower depths might not be necessary to the more complete Soil Food Web near the surface in a mature system, but I doubt that the plant will cease to function in these capacities simply because there is no need for their upward draw of nutrients. Many of these plants are extremely robust and resilient, and although some of them will be eliminated due to succession of more mature guild systems, I doubt that we, as horticulturalists, will see the need to intervene to actively replace them at any point, unless that succession is desired.

Perhaps I'm off base here. I do appreciate your's and Hans', and everyone else's contributing thoughts on this. I guess I'm using this thread as a place/opportunity to personally brainstorm, which might not be appropriate. I mean no disrespect in questioning everything as I do.






 
Roberto pokachinni
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I meant to respond to O Donnelly's post of a week ago! sorry O.

What is apparently emerging is that there isn't any hard data to support the original assumption that those specific plants are any better than any other plants at accumulating nutrients.

I'm not sure if that is what is emerging, here. Other plants may very likely not have the capacity to accumulate nutrients as well as these DA plants; Hyper accumulation is well documented. There is some debate as to whether the plants are accumulating the precise minerals that we thought they were, and so the tables that were published might not be accurate. Also, what is emerging is that despite the hyper accumulation of minerals/nutrients, there is little data on how much and when these accumulations become available to other plants. To quote you further:

So, we don't need to test the concept of succession. We don't need to test whether a healthy soil food web is capable of recycling nutrients. But I think it is fair to test the concept of dynamic accumulators - whether specific plants are better than other plants at accumulating nutrients, and therefore whether they deserve the extra effort to plant. And in my mind doing so is fairly straightforward - plant the specimen in question in a test plot and measure its impact on the soil over time against a control plot....

I think that it is fair to test D.A.s for this reason, but I'm not sure if the soil food web can be (or should be) separated from the experiment. It may be necessary to test them in correlation with each other, as R Ranson writes here:

what plants can I grow that will grow deep roots, bring that calcium up into their leaves, so that the calcium can decompose on the surface of the soil and help my other plants? Do some plants do this better than others? Do some plants need a specific lichen or other symbiotic relationship to make this work? How can we discover this information? That's what we are interested in here.



Of course, we can, and should, study as we personally see fit. I really like the Alberta Urban Garden website that I have visited before and that Hans has drawn this thread's attention to. They have some really interesting studies going on, and have a real focus on dispelling myths and helping gain a real understanding of horticultural trends/fads/folklore and actual garden facts based on tested results. What I don't like about it is that none of the experiments seem to be repeated yet to prove the theory in different plots and scenarios. Hopefully this will be done in time. There is no saying that we can not personally embark on our own scientific process. If we document and explain our experiment, then others can judge the merits.
 
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in the case of deep rooted perennials of many sorts including trees, would virtually eliminate leaching


The feeder roots of most trees are normally quite close to the surface. The deeper roots serve primarily as an anchoring system. At least, that is my understanding.

The deeper minerals that have been formed by the breaking down of the rocks and pebbles are not in a form available to (most?) plants. First, the micro organisms (bacteria & fungi) need to consume them (and then eventually die). At this time, the macro organisms eat the dead micro organisms. After several layers of 'the-cycle-of-life' processing these nutrients, they are now in a form that any normal plant can uptake them.

I would love to believe that DAs are somehow special, and can uptake these nutrients. But I believe that that is wishful thinking. I would love it for somebody to prove me wrong.
 
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What I don't like about it is that none of the experiments seem to be repeated yet to prove the theory in different plots and scenarios. Hopefully this will be done in time.

Because I fallow Alberta Gardens regularly I know they are planning an extensive trial over a larger area of poor soil.

I would like to see some controlled studies that compare how much mineral absorption there is without other soil life. Elaine Ingham refers to this absorption through other soil life but I do not recall a comparative mineral analysis.
I'm not sure what you are suggesting? Do you mean to plant a comfrey root in sterilized soil, or are you meaning just generally poor soil? I don't recall any comparative analysis in the work that I read either.


I think a comparison of accumulation in living soil, poor soil and sterilized soil might reveal more about capacity of the DA's to accumulate minerals below the living soil web.
Weeds are said to be plants that will grow readily in conditions that are not favorable to the desired plant. Some like Lambs quarters take advantage of disturbed soil that is high in nutrients others like alder and scotch broom will propagate where soil has been severely disturbed. They feed bacteria on their roots to fix nitrogen. Has anyone studied whether their seeds are naturally inoculated with the bacteria?

I have observe dandelions enduring as small tough little plants in poor soil with irregular water but eventually gaining more robust growth. I suspect that utilizing there tap root storage and succession of their leaf litter around the crown they are able to build a soil life web around there feeder roots. One winter I found ants tending aphids on a dandelion's roots in a soil cavity. Are these energy storing tap roots of dandelion, comfrey,and biennials that are often eaten by nematodes that we consider pests intended to be food sources for starting the soil life web? We may need to question that our assumption that something is a pest is only because we wanted selfishly to have the produce for our self whereas the plant soil life web is unselfish contributing to the good of all by the sacrifice of the few or many.

I don't have any specific reference for the transport of water across cell membranes but think of the marvelous capacity of fungi to do this. After a rain they will find a dry edge spot and channel that water to grow a huge mushroom to send spores off to start a new colony.
 
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Roberto,
I've been silently watching this thread for awhile. I'm certainly not a scientist but I love topics that make me think. I can't answer your original question ( "How much time will be necessary before the minerals are available?" )but it's made me want to ask more questions.
Is a DA similar to a Mother Tree (in this case a Mother Plant)? Maybe certain minerals transfer through the host plant's mycorrhizal fungi,others through the decaying of its' leaves and still others through the decaying of the plant itself at some point. Are the minerals concentrated in varying degrees throughout the plant? Are minerals held on to by the host plant in the winter months? Is the mycorrhizal web well established before the first shedding of leaves?
I watched the Comfrey video (thank you Hans), very interesting. I had been considering planting some. In the video, he "warns us" how easy it is to root and even pieces of the stem can root itself. According to Mother Earth News, the roots can grow 8-10 feet. How would you ever get rid of Comfrey if you didn't want it anymore? Small pieces could be re-rooting itself for years. No? I had a plant like that once and it took 2+ years to get rid of it.
 
Roberto pokachinni
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I would love to believe that DAs are somehow special

I have similar views, John.

in the case of deep rooted perennials of many sorts including trees, would virtually eliminate leaching

Perhaps instead of this quote I should have said the more advanced microbial communities associated with long term perennials and their established feeder root systems?

The feeder roots of most trees are normally quite close to the surface. The deeper roots serve primarily as an anchoring system. At least, that is my understanding.

I think this depends on the tree and the soil types. I think that your statement is largely accurate. Deeper roots also serve to bring water to the tree trunk and leaves. I think that it has been proven that tree roots, as they develop, bring soil life with them, but I believe you are correct that most of the tree's feeding is in the upper layers of the soil. I'm not sure about what level of the soil depth the feeder roots would stop in a tree.

Because I fallow Alberta Gardens regularly I know they are planning an extensive trial over a larger area of poor soil.

That's good news Hans.

I think a comparison of accumulation in living soil, poor soil and sterilized soil might reveal more about capacity of the DA's to accumulate minerals below the living soil web.

Sounds like reasonable thoughts, Hans.

They feed bacteria on their roots to fix nitrogen. Has anyone studied whether their seeds are naturally inoculated with the bacteria?

I don't know for sure. I know that if you plant peas, regardless of chemical treatment, the peas grow with bacteria that fix nitrogen, but all peas and beans fix more nitrogen and produce more pods/peas/beans if they are further inoculated with nitrogen fixing bacteria prior to planting.

We may need to question that our assumption that something is a pest is only because we wanted selfishly to have the produce for our self whereas the plant soil life web is unselfish contributing to the good of all by the sacrifice of the few or many.

I think that we need to question all of our assumptions and our biases, but sometimes they are hard for us to even see, let alone admit, let alone question. I think that one of the purposes of this thread is to question what it is that we believe about what is happening in the soil, with our plants, in our gardens... and try to get out of our point of view which is often both anthropocentric and selfish. good point, Hans.

Hi Karen, and welcome to the thread in visible form. I suspect there are a few other people lurking in the peripherals.

Is a DA similar to a Mother Tree (in this case a Mother Plant)?

I'm not sure what it is you are referring to.

Maybe certain minerals transfer through the host plant's mycorrhizal fungi,others through the decaying of its' leaves and still others through the decaying of the plant itself at some point.

I personally suspect that all this is the case, and probably many other things as well.

Are the minerals concentrated in varying degrees throughout the plant? Are minerals held on to by the host plant in the winter months? Is the mycorrhizal web well established before the first shedding of leaves?

All very interesting questions. I think that the first and third answer is yes, unless the first shedding of leaves happens as a result of trauma (chop and drop, or being stepped on, or whatever). I have no idea about winter; it would certainly depend on whether the accumulator plant lived for many years, like alfalfa or even comfrey, or for one or two like dandelion, or chicory, but I have no idea. I assume that a plant will want to store sugars, if it needs to overwinter.

In the video, he "warns us" how easy it is to root and even pieces of the stem can root itself. According to Mother Earth News, the roots can grow 8-10 feet. How would you ever get rid of Comfrey if you didn't want it anymore? Small pieces could be re-rooting itself for years. No?

I have helped to eradicate comfrey from someones property before. It's not easy. It takes regular and constant vigilance; plants need sun, and their roots only have so much energy. The idea of never letting it see a Sunday will generally kill off most plants.



 
Karen Donnachaidh
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Thank you for the "welcome". I am enjoying reading all the interesting posts.
In my comparison of a DA to a Mother Tree, I am referring to its' ability to reach far gathering nutrients and sharing them in various ways with nearby plants.
Bear with me, I have yet to learn how to include a quote in a post. You had said before " There is never more minerals being made by plants or by fungi or anything. All of them come from the soil aggregates." What about the minerals the plant is "born" with? It is made of many minerals regardless of what it takes up from external sources. Can't these minerals increase in number as the plant grows?
Thanks for sharing your experience with the removal of Comfrey. Maybe I can grow it in a large container.
 
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Hi Karen,

So there are at least three ways to quote, one of which you used. The two ways that highlight the quote in white are done this way.

Type 1, which is done in this post below, in which I click on the quote button in the top right corner of the post that I want to quote from; in this case your last post. This automatically starts a response post with the full post in quotes conveniently inserted into it, and also the name of the person who's post you are quoting. At this point a person can cut out/delete the information that they do not want to quote for the purposes of their own post. Before I carry on with the other method, I will respond to the quote that I quoted.

Karen Layne wrote:
What about the minerals the plant is "born" with? It is made of many minerals regardless of what it takes up from external sources. Can't these minerals increase in number as the plant grows?
Thanks for sharing your experience with the removal of Comfrey. Maybe I can grow it in a large container.

So when a plant is born, it is using energy/nutrients/minerals from it's seed, and the water that helps to germinate it. In the case of a comfrey root that is divided, then the material is coming from the root division. In both of these starting phases of a new comfrey plant there is energy and minerals and nutrients coming from a finite source (the seed or root). In order to actually grow beyond a few sets of leaves, roots must form to gather water, and nutrients from outside of themselves, for seeds, I believe it is after the first set of seed leaves. The genetic potential of the plant can be multiplied, but it must use resources from outside of itself to do so after that short term initial stage. There are several varieties of comfrey, some of which spread readily from seed, others that spread only by root, and hybrid varieties that are super aggressive spreaders. It is wise to know and understand the characteristics of the specific variety that you are going to be dealing with. Some people use an old bathtub as a container for comfrey.

Type 2, is the second way that I quote people. I just go in with my cursor and highlight the section that I want to quote, while I already have a response post started. Then I go above the response post box and there is a 'Quote' button (in a list of buttons beginning with a bold 'b', followed by an italic i... etc. You'll see it. I click on that and it puts out the word 'quote' twice, each contained within square brackets [ ]. These two quotes appear where my cursor last was in my response post. So I will demonstrate again, but this time I will insert the quote that I want to quote from whomever, in this case, your last post, and I do this probably in the same way that you inserted your quote of me (cut and paste), but I do it by placing my cursor between the two quotes that are in the square brackets and then pasting it:

Thank you for the "welcome". I am enjoying reading all the interesting posts.

Your welcome. It's been fun for me too.


In my comparison of a DA to a Mother Tree, I am referring to its' ability to reach far gathering nutrients and sharing them in various ways with nearby plants.

Ah! Yes, this is sort of what we are assuming and trying to figure out for sure.
 
Roberto pokachinni
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If you want to learn a lot about other ways that you can best use this site, scroll up to one of R Ranson's posts in this thread. At the bottom of her post is a highlighted thing that says 'how permies.com works'. Click on it. It will take you to the wonderful world of Burra. I will go there and bump it to the top of the forum list now, so it will suddenly be up there as the most recently posted in thread. So you might see it there first.
 
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Roberto pokachinni wrote:If you want to learn a lot about other ways that you can best use this site, scroll up to one of R Ranson's posts in this thread. At the bottom of her post is a highlighted thing that says 'how permies.com works'. Click on it. It will take you to the wonderful world of Burra. .



Someone call?

Here's the link - how permies works

And here's Dave's version, which is a much better read than my list - Dave's universal welcome page
 
Karen Donnachaidh
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Roberto/Burra,
Thank you both so much! Roberto, you put alot into helping me. I apologize for getting you off course with my techno handicap. I'm using my phone (only Internet connection) to correspond.
Meanwhile, back at the ranch, what about those fascinating dynamic accumulaters?
 
Karen Donnachaidh
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It will take you to the wonderful world of Burra.


I enjoyed my visit to that wonderful world. Brought home souvenirs.
I have been re-reading alot of this thread, including the link in your original post. My head is spinning! I just got my new Back to Eden DVD in the mail. I'll watch it while my brain settles.
 
Noel Deering
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...lead me to believe that there is a reason to fear science being involved in finding facts regarding accumulator plants...



Shee-it, I ain't afeared

It just sounded (at first) like a lot of unnecessary caution/skepticism. My quibble is this: I think "Science welcome!" is more accurate than "Science is needed!"

Like I said before, I look forward to some verification/vindication/quantification of this concept, I'm just not holding my breath.
 
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