Since water is the blood of life (all life) it occurred to me that I should talk about our life blood and how it relates to my previous threads.
So I'm putting together my first post for this thread over this weekend and will have it up at some point on Monday (at least that is my current plan).
When rain falls there become ionized droplets both + and - charged water molecules can be found, these ions hit the earth and if they strike bare soil, they have a jackhammer effect upon the naked soil particles they strike.
A magnified rain drop hitting the earth does not look unlike a meteor striking the earth, a crater is formed and grains of soil create a circle around the strike site.
In slow motion and high magnification it is amazing to see how much soil is disrupted on such a small scale, it brings home the need for always keeping something growing to cover the soil and protect it from such devastation.
The second wonder is that as these rain drops smash into the bare soil, some of the charged molecules of water attach to single elements in the soil.
As the drop of water sinks into the earth, more water molecules attach to more single elements and these elements are taken deeper into the soil as the water sinks in.
While the water drop is making the journey down into the soil, bacteria, fungi and other microorganisms take on some of the molecules, if they need the mineral that is attached, they strip it off before they break the water molecule into the oxygen and hydrogen atoms that make up water.
This produces a lot of energy since anytime you break a bond, you use some energy and then get it back as the bond severs, sometimes the atoms float away but most will be used to make up new molecules that the organism needs for its own health.
When there is enough water running down into the soil, microorganisms will end up sucked deeper down, as they use the water they need for life.
One of the more curious properties of water is that it has the propensity to form a vortex as it follows the gravitational pull of earth, though this is normal, unless you see a whirl pool form in a river or other larger body of water, or look down a pipe with a "snake camera", you rarely see this property.
Many "mystical" attributes have, over the years, been given to the formation of a water vortex.
Most of these can be debunked through measurements and the experimental process, but the very fact that water will created a vortex just about anytime it is given the chance is curious.
Leaving out the mysticism, a vortex is a response to gravity by a moving fluid (water and air are the usual things we see incorporate this).
In a container it is easy to get a vortex going by simply stirring a liquid rapidly, blenders are one of the tools we can use to create a vortex in fluids, stir plates are commonly used for this in laboratories.
Solids will be suspended faster and for a longer period of time when the liquid they are dissolved in forms a vortex.
Be aware though that even though this suspension will happen, once the vortex is gone, gravity takes over and the solids will settle out just as if you had not created the vortex.
When water creates a vortex we can get electrical charge measurements that are higher than just straight line flowing water.
What this means is still being guessed at and investigated but one thing it does do is make water able to hold onto more elements, taking them along for a ride.
So if we could find a vortex going down into our soil, it would also be taking minerals, bacteria, hyphae and other microorganisms along also.
One of the surprising places you might find a vortex is in the open channel along major roots of trees, which might mean that nutrients would be able to be sucked down deeper into the soil, to be deposited along the root pathway.
If this is true, then it might be something we can take advantage of to get nutrients we need to the roots that are capable of moving those nutrients into and up the tree to the leaves.
more to come as I have time.
Bryant RedHawk wrote:
When water creates a vortex we can get electrical charge measurements that are higher than just straight line flowing water.
What this means is still being guessed at and investigated ....
Admittedly a bit off topic, but you have the word "plant" in the thread title so here goes. Not really steeped in any engineering, I'm going to guess that photosynthesis was a phenomenon and model examined alongside of the development of solar cells and solar power....probably even the inspiration..?? Wind turbines have been around in one form or another for centuries and the whirling nature probably modeled on other natural phenomena observed by the engineer of that day. Living in high wind region, it's always striking how much waving and motion a tree (and prairie grasses?) exhibits in these winds. Yet while the wind turbine concept recently is being melded, in a micro-way, to the design of 'artificial trees' that would generate low amounts of power for a dwelling or other need, I've yet to see an analysis of the use of the oscillation motion of a tree in the possible generation of ATP ('plant power') within that tree; the bulk (?) of ATP generation being attributed to photosynthesis and ancillary reactions (if memory serves me). Is there anything in your studies or learning that might suggest trees (or, in ocean environments, kelp/seaweed) utilize wind energy in this manner to generate energy for metabolism? Although the energy production ramifications of this might be significant, I'm more interested in how it relates to our understading of plant growth and health, in addition to the soil and microbiome below that plant.
The closest I could come to something akin to this idea is an engineeered one: https://motherboard.vice.com/en_us/article/pgkpkn/piezoelectricity-wind-energy-trees-vibration-resonance
As far as I know,
The main use of wind (in trees) is the formation of lignin in the cellular structure as far as I know, wind power doesn't have any relationship with the plant producing energy from the swaying, only a stronger, more flexible structure.
I know wave motion is being used in Holland for energy generation and they still use the old windmills both to grind grains and now for power generation as well.
In plants the chloroplasts react with the sun's radiation (ultraviolet and infrared) to provide energy to the mitochondria which make the ATP that the rest of the plant makes use of as the energy source.
The kelps use the wave motion to both strengthen their stalks and to help position the leaves (iodine kelp particularly) for photosynthesis using UV mostly (that is partly why Iodine kelp seems to be reddish in color).
Plants that grow up in windy areas tend to be "leaners" that is the constant bending produces not only stronger but also longer cells on the windward side of the plant thus they lean away from the prevailing wind direction.
This behavior is fairly well simulated by the plant moving with the sun, where the stem cells grow at the same rate as the sun travels across the sky, this keeps the plant facing the most energy for better gathering of the sun's energy.
I think there are some engineers working on a wind whip design. It looks like a very long paddle standing upright and it is on a pivot with powerful springs to keep it from being knocked down from the wind, as it moves back and forth the energy stored is released and turns a generator.
Plants have some problems caused by their lack of mobility, most animals can move and seek out water, plants have to depend on their root system and the fungal network to draw water up from the soil they live in.
Water gathering is one of the things where the fungal network relationship with plants really comes to light.
Fungi are sponges, if you pluck any fungal fruit (the mushroom) and simply squeeze it, water will come out, showing just how much water is held by a mushroom.
The hyphae, being the real growth portion of the fungi, are very good at pulling water from the surrounding soil and moving it along the threads that make up the fungi organism.
When the hyphae have a part of their bodies wrapped around the roots of a plant, those roots can signal the hyphae, through a sugary exudate, to give some water to the roots, it is a very symbiotic relationship, and this is true of most of the microbiological world.
We already covered a bit about how water, the universal solvent, carries minerals along the path of least resistance (which is how water moves), ready to deposit those minerals where ever the water slows down its rate of speed or a chemical bonding reaction grabs on to the mineral being carried by the water.
Fungi are one of the key players in the movement of water that plants use, the hyphae that are mycorrhizal fungi, especially the endo species, will release water molecules directly inside the plant root, since the endo species live inside the cell walls of the hair like feeder roots, they ensure that what ever water the fungal network can provide, is delivered to just the right place.
Bacteria take advantage of this too, and because the whole microscopic world that is the soil food network is a multitude of symbiotic relationships, everyone of its members receives and gives benefits to all the other members.
This is one of the reasons that great soil can keep plants from succumbing to what other, not so great soil can not when the rains stop for any sort of extended period of time.
It is also why fungi keep astonishing those who study them, as one of the simplest of life forms, it has the ability to be extremely complex in its interactions with the other organisms in its world.
Plants can, through the use of their exudate system, make adjustments to their roots surroundings.
If the pH of the soil is either too basic or too acidic, the roots will send out the sugars to promote the fungi and bacteria to make the proper adjustment in pH, which can be as much as 0.40 pH change (up or down) in a 24 hour period and this change can be held in place for as long as the plant remains alive.
This means that if something like a blue berry bush is planted in soil that is not quite acidic enough (blueberries like their pH to be rather acidic like 5.5) the plant can send out a call for more acidic conditions and the bacteria and fungi will work together to create the change.
Problems arise when one of these components is either missing or not well established at the time the transplanted bush needs the help. This is one of the reasons for making some additions to the back fill soil when transplanting a tree or bush of any fruit species.
Mycorrhizae are finally become better known for all the things they can do for our soil and thus for our plants.
These are the "go between" from plant to fungal network communications, if you need mycorrhizae and they aren't present, then you have a faulty cell tower or worse yet, a cut land line effect, the call is placed but no phone rings.
All of the "higher" microorganisms use the fungal network as their super highway system, allowing them to move all over the place and answer any exudate stimulus that is sent out.
and I'll be back with more.
The other totally amazing thing I think about water is that the solid form floats . I cannot thing of another simple compound or element that has the same property . Without it we could never have evolved . The earth would be a snow ball .
Water is the only molecule that does this. In an electric storm event, water can be found in many different forms all within the same cloud (which is formed by water floating in air).
Rain is water that has bonded to other water until there are enough molecules holding together that they become heavy enough for gravity to pull them out of the vaporized (cloud) form.
Lightening is simply a static electric charge that has built up to the discharge point and usually what we see as coming down is actually going up. The electrical discharge creates ozone by adding electrons to the nitrogen that is part of the air.
The electrical discharge also can cause water to line up molecules like a crystal and then throw them apart so we never actually get to see this crystal form.
Snow is a different animal, it is water molecules solidifying in air and they grow just like sugar forms rock candy.
In the soil water takes on many different, fleeting forms just as it can do when it forms a vortex. For the above storm that vortex is what we call a tornado or cyclone.
In the vortex, water can take on extra atoms of oxygen or hydrogen then they break apart from the water molecule as fast as they hooked on to it.
The result is a chain of free electrons that comes and goes so fast we almost can't measure it.
There have been many attempts to conceptualize these action/ reaction events but they usually end up sounding like science fiction so I am not going to attempt it.
These action/ reaction events happen, we can measure them and they do effect many microorganisms in measureable ways but to talk about 1 trillionth of a second events is usually hard for people to get their mind to grasp.
They are the reason that creating a compost tea in a vortex mixer works the way it does. It isn't magic, it just kind of seems like it is.
Now we have people marketing "vortex" water for drinking, problem is by the time that water has left the vortex to go into the bottle, it has lost any "properties" the vortex induced.
In fact, if you could drink straight from that vortex, by the time the water molecules are passing your lips, they have lost any "properties" the vortex induced.
This is the sort of thing that is more detrimental to people's understanding of the ways of water than anything else, people want to try and make it magical, which in a sense it is, just not in the ways they try to market it so you will buy their magical water.
Soil is ground up rocks, as we learned way back at the beginning of these threads.
That means that soil is little, minute particles of rock, most so small that it would take thousands of them to make up a pebble the size of a marble.
If the particles are larger than that we have sand if they are smaller then we have silt or clay, clay being the tiniest of soil particles.
Clay particles are so small they act similarly to a water molecule, they stick to each other and can exhibit surface tension like water does.
Water reacts differently to each size of soil particle, this is regulated by the particle size.
Sand has lots of space between grains so water can slip right through, going deeper and deeper until it meets a barrier of some sort, which can be the water table.
We will come back to the water table later, because it is interesting on it's own accord.
In the first thread, we talked about horizons, those layers of soil where a sudden difference occurs, horizons act like boundaries to water molecules.
If horizon A is sand, the water rushes through until it finds horizon B, which if it happens to be smaller particles, slow the passage of the water down.
If the particles below horizon B are smaller still, then the water slows down even more, if they are larger, the water moves through quicker.
If the particles at say, horizon D are clay, then the water stops its downward movement when it hits that horizon and it either moves off sideways or it forms a pool or water table.
When the water slows down, that affinity for like molecules has the chance to force the water to link around the soil particle for at least a little while.
You can grasp this idea if you think about the sand on a beach, the wave runs up over the sand then retreats to the ocean, some of that wave water sinks into the sand.
If we take a shovel and lift a scoop of sand right after the wave retreats, we can observe the water rushing through the particles of sand, and then we can see air bubbles popping as that water runs off the shovel.
If we used a ladle type shovel, we would see the same things but the water would only run out of the sand protruding above the ladles sides, and those particles dry out.
Below that level, the water would be trapped, and those trapped sand particles would be surrounded by the water that was trapped.
Those particles that remain wet are "saturated", when soil remains saturated for long periods of time, no air can be drawn into those spaces occupied by the water molecules and that means that space is anaerobic, at least for the time period the water doesn't drain away.
This is what creates swamps, which usually have a clay soil base and sit below the surrounding land forms.
What we want to do is create a soil that only slows the water, not stop it completely.
If we have a clay base layer, we need to get enough organic material into that clay to allow the clay particles to surround the organic material and thus create some space between the particles of clay.
When we succeed at doing this, the clay will allow the water to slowly drain through down to the next layer (horizon).
The deeper we can have the water drain, the better for our plants roots since they will be able to get air once the water passes by.
The mechanism that brings the air down as the water goes away is called capillary action, it can also draw water up, that is how water functions in soil, it first moves down (gravity works), then after it goes down it can crawl back up through the tiny spaces between the soil particles.
These actions will occur for as long as there is water at the correct level, it has to be in contact with those small particles that have the right sized spaces between them.
If the spaces are too large, the water can not crawl back up, if the spaces are too small, the water remains stuck to itself and once again it can't crawl back up.
Soil that is just right for these actions is referred to as "friable".
This is how horizons work with water, those that can trap the water, allow the material above to evacuate the water but those particles that remain surrounded by the water are wet while those above dry out.
to be continued
Bryant RedHawk wrote:...people want to try and make it magical, which in a sense it is, just not in the ways they try to market it so you will buy their magical water.
Another amazing thing about plants and water: "An acre of corn gives off about 3,000-4,000 gallons (11,400-15,100 liters) of water each day, and a large oak tree can transpire 40,000 gallons (151,000 liters) per year." -- https://water.usgs.gov/edu/watercycletranspiration.html
At 151,000 liters per year and assuming a transpiratory (leafed-out) number of days of ~300 per year averaged over many climates, that would be ~500 liters per day. Assuming that is correct, it is the 'structure' of water combining with the evolved vascular conduits of the tree to, in a way, 'pump' that water from the ground up through the tree and out the stomates of the leaves. Pretty amazing, really......
In the sterile world of the commercial farmer (yes I did say sterile world because that is what they do to their land before they plant anything) the only way a plant gets water into it is through the roots sucking it up one molecule at a time.
This is because there are none of the helper organisms available since the heavy tilling and applications of synthetic fertilizers has killed off all the soil microorganisms, this leads to the need for lots more irrigation than would be needed in a healthy soil environment.
To draught proof our soils in our gardens (large or small) we need to have a fully developed multiple specie hyphae network that is also rich in many different bacteria.
When we build such a system the other microorganisms will follow since nature makes sure that the food animals always have predators coming around to thin the herd of the weak and old.
If we are brewing good quality compost teas, all the organisms we desire to reside in our soil will be present, and if we are careful we can limit the numbers of the bad guy organisms while increasing the numbers of the good guy organisms.
This allows us to then focus on providing even better nutrition for our plants which will end up as better nutrition for us, which is what we all desire (I hope) and the very reason we are growing our own foods.
In a soil that has a fully developed fungal network (hyphae), greater amounts of water can be held in suspension at the level where the plant roots growing in that soil can readily take in water molecules.
The hyphae will wrap around the roots and some will grow inside the cells of these roots, this allows for a greater quantity of water to be taken in by the plant any time it needs more water.
With the hyphae closely wrapped around the roots, other, non beneficial organisms can not attack the individual root parts thus the plant is protected from infestation or diseases that are soil born.
In a microorganism rich environment, some of the bacteria will be types that will form a coating on the actual stem of the plant, this will happen from sprouting all the way to fully grown in the plant.
This bacteria coat also protects the plant from diseases and infestation.
In a rain event, one of the primary ways a plant gets a disease is from soil splash as the rain liquefies some of the soil and the rebound effect that occurs when a rain drop slams into the soil.
As a plant grows in our healthy soil environment, even the leaves receive a protective coat of bacteria which protect from air born diseases such as rust and blights which are blown by the wind from previously infested "hosts" trees, shrubs and even grasses.
By our building good, microorganism rich soil, we allow the soil to hold more water in a readily available level, we give the plant the opportunity to be protected by those organisms that are in our rich soil and the plant can receive all the nutrients it requires without any synthetics having to be used.
This means our plants will stay healthy and they will thrive, producing more of their fruits, leaves, tubers, for us to use for food, and those foods will be higher in nutritional values than any that are grown with artificial nutrients.
This is mostly because most of the "fertilizers" are nutrient poor, offering the most basic of nutrient needs of any plant species, this leaves huge gaps in the nutrients needed by the plant which results in food stuffs that are also lacking.
When we have a good microbiome living in our soil there is no longer any need to incorporate any of the organic materials that we cut or crimp down to be in contact with the soil, the active microbes will come up to the surface much like earth worms do and those microbes will begin breaking down the new foods.
This is when we have achieved a true ability to practice No-Till methods to their best effect. We can plant cover crops for the winter then crimp them down to be in ground contact and simply plant right through all that freshly mashed vegetation.
The microbes and worms come and break down all this new organic material and it ends up working down into the soil, being pulled there by the worms and microbes, where it becomes humus and as the microbes work on that new humus they give off humic acids which are converted to other forms of humus,
making other bacteria active and those newly activated bacteria form new compounds with the materials created by all the microbic activities and the soil becomes ever richer, more able to hold on to water and it becomes more oxygenated as the water is used which makes room for more oxygen.
Before we know it we have the great circle of life, that never ending recycling of matter that is what nature is all about, working for us.
It feeds our plants allowing them to be the best versions of themselves they can possibly be, disease free, unfettered by infestations of insects, producing the best possible fruits, with seeds that will easily germinate to start the plant life cycle again and provide us with the nutrition our bodies need to be disease free.
For humans and indeed almost all life on the planet known as earth, soil and water along with sunlight are the keys to the kingdom, there is no way to substitute the method that nature derived over the many millions of years before the first two legged animals began to form.
Every time we have thought we could cheat and that it would allow us to grow more food, it has turned out that those foods lacked the building blocks that our bodies need to stay healthy.
Since humans began tilling the soil enough to get a "smooth" seed bed, the nutritional values have gone down and diseases have manifested, if you go back in time just two hundred years, people were far healthier than today.
Sure they died younger but that was more the matter of wearing out the body not cancer or diabetes causing the deaths.
Cancer doctors will tell you the cancers were always here, and that might have some truth to it but we didn't have as many people dying from AIDS, EBOLA, and many other "new" diseases.
Cancers were fewer too, the over whelming lack of nutrients that can be found in the grocery stores has to be considered as one of the underlying causes, since taking these sick people and giving them full nutrient rich foods has been shown to reduce or even cure their illnesses.
For humans, soil is and always will be the underlying factor that allows full health. If it wasn't so, would there be such a full set of marked differences in the tomato grown hydroponically and the tomato grown in good, microbe rich soil both in measurable nutritional value and taste?
Soil, good, microbe rich, water holding soil is paramount to the ability of the human body to thrive.
What that means is that even though the changes do happen, they breakdown just as quickly, there is evidence of other reactions which occur during these fleeting moments that do continue to hold their positions.
So reports of crystalline structures forming, while true, don't last long enough to be able to be considered as significant (so far, things might change as the experiments progress).
The water itself is constantly in flux, causing bonding and breaking of bonds in substances in that water, so the lasting effects aren't actually the water but those substances suspended in the water.
This means that when we use a vortex brewer (as an example) there are chemical bonds between components of the compost tea which would not occur without the vortex brewer.
In these instances the vortex water seems to act more like an enzymatic catalyst for the brewing tea.
I don't use a vortex barrel, I use a 1/2 inch drill with a paddle stirrer designed for mixing drywall mud.
While I am sure that a vortex barrel would perhaps be better because of the length of time the vortex would be held in motion, I am not convinced that the "stir up" needs to be continuous to work.
It seems to me that if we can bring the water to a vortex then let that subside, following with another vortex, that we might even get better benefit since the reactions come and go, giving a type of interval set of reactions.
During each of the active parts of the interval (the spin up into a vortex) we get the nano bonding reactions followed by a relaxing stage which is then whipped again into a vortex stage.
My thoughts on this is that by using an interval system of stirring up the vortex, the microorganisms have time for some recovery over those continuously whirling about with no time for recovery.
I stir my tea for 5 minutes 3 times a day, that is all the time I can devote to it and it works well enough for me.
I could grow more organisms if I had a vortex setup or if I could devote 5 minutes per hour over the whole daylight period, since I sleep, night time is out the way I do it now.
The vortex is an awesome setup but I've noticed that my method seems to be almost as good since I am oxygenating the whole time with intermittent stirrings to a vortex.
The counts are, while not numerically close by organism count, they are close by ratio of each organism, so it takes me longer to get to the desired organism numbers.
However, I am not on a particular time limit on my farm, which I would be held to on a hire job situation.
A couple of ideas….
Using simple and cheap electronics for the tea brewer, add a permanent paddle stirrer and automate the time it runs and for how long. Say for five minutes every half an hour or whatever you want. This would be completely automated and would possibly speed up the brewing process. I like the idea of automation. This can be used for a 20-liter bucket or scaled up to any size container.
My understanding is that the benefit of the vortex in water only last for a very short period but is very beneficial so why not add the vortex process to the end of the watering system? Example - water pours into a 20-liter bucket, run paddle stirrer for the required time to create a vortex then water immediately so the benefit of the vortex is not lost.
Could also use this same system for home personal water consumption?
But maybe I am just over complicating things?
In these instances the water vortex seems to have the effect of a catalyst allowing molecules to form that otherwise would either never form or that would bond only to collapse as the electrons gravitated back to their original positons.
I love your idea of setting up a permanent stirring device that would only add the cost of a timer unit unless you dedicated an electric motor as well.
I am not as yet convinced of real benefits to the human body, but those experiments are on going so time is the current factor involved.
What is most intriguing to me is the formation of H3O and the multiple oxygen formations like H3O2, there are some others that involve up to 13 oxygen atoms with a disproportionate number of hydrogen atoms.
Some of these we have seen though in other laboratory studies but they seem to hold together better when created through the water vortex mechanism, the studies continue so we may soon have better data and determinations of what these can do.
Since all are just "water" it doesn't seem that drinking any of them could cause harm to the human body, the question is more what good it does.
One of the most interesting results in regards this discussion is where they looked at the biological activity within a tea comparing one that was intermittently hand stirred, one that was bubbler aerated, and one that was aerated by the water being cycled through a flowform set up. They found the intermitent hand stirring yielded no living microorganisms within 24 hours of the cessation of stirring, the bubbler aerated one retained viable life for a bit longer, and the flowform aerated set up yielded viable life for the entire 7 days that they monitored the tea following the end of stirring.
They also noticed some interesting results that seem to correlate to the moon phase, i don't remember the details off hand but I believe the gist of it was that flowform treated water yielded plants that manifested a greater effect relative to phase of the moon at planting time compared to just tap water.
Anyway, worth a read, you can find it used on amazon for around 10$, I think it is usually around 22$ new.
We know some about the way the microscopic world living in the soil works to feed the plants we grow and we have learned a bit about the plants communicating with not only the bacteria and fungi but also with each other.
I am planning to do a thread that focuses on some of the research I'm doing for my PHD, which is all about these communication methods used by plants and the microcosm in the soil, so we won't go deep into that here.
However, this is a good time for a bit of an overview, touching on many of the rolls plants play in our world of which we are just now able to start understanding and we are able to measure some of these mechanisms as they work.
It used to be that people had no idea of plants reactions to their environment except that they could grow, die and even become sick or diseased.
In those times (currently still here) humans sought to protect and heal the plants they grew for the purpose of food, visual beauty and olfactory benefit.
Occasionally we were able to heal the plants, or we could find the nutrients they were missing and provide them so the plant could heal on its own.
Once we started to look to the soil as a means of keeping plants healthy in the first place, we began to gain understanding of how this part of our world worked, even though we are still scratching the surface, we have made huge leaps and bounds forward.
When we broke out the microscopes and started looking at those smallest of organisms found in the soil, we happened upon substances that were identified as coming from the roots of the plants, we termed these substances exudates and we still are studying them.
We first did a lot of looking into the plants themselves and discovered all the parts of the plants and how they worked together in the plant, we are still working on a more complete understanding and will be for a long time.
and I'll be back with more on this.
Soil science is overly concerned with the readily available nutrients and ignores those nutrients that require the soil biology in order to become available to plants.
This is because Soil Science was born of the needs of the commercial farmer, through those companies that wanted to make it possible to grow mass amounts of single crop foods by the farmers.
So it was necessary to know what nutrients were the primary ones needed for maximum growth and maximum fruiting of; Wheat, Oats, Rye, Barley, Corn, Sorghum, Soybeans, Cotton, in short all the biggest commercially grown crops that export profitably.
The chemists that were hired to do this were very good, without their work we would not be as advanced today as we are, but they were chemistry scholars not biologist and thus they were not concerned with life forces which are very much in play in the agricultural world of farming.
The chemist found that there were optimal pH levels for each group of plants and they charted their findings as all good scientist do.
Today, we have far more information available but the original standards are adhered to like they were written in gold.
This can lead and indeed will lead to the collapse of farming as we know it, because the whole model is non-sustainable, it was not meant to be, it was meant to need constant inputs by the farmer so the agricultural companies would continue to make money.
When we, as sustainable farmers try to follow the non-sustainable guidelines, we have failed to recognize that those guidelines do not particularly apply to our methodology, they were not designed for our methodology.
When we take our soil samples and get back the chemistry results we do learn a few things that are important.
we learn just how much of several of the important minerals are present, we learn the current pH of the soil, we can also learn the composition of the soil for typing purposes.
All this information leads us to the path of amendment needed to get to good nutrient levels in the soil, while also giving us the ability to make those nutrients available to the plants.
The problems arise as we improve the life in the soil.
As we increase the numbers of bacteria, fungi, springtails, earthworms, nematodes, amoeba, flagellates and all the other microorganisms, they allow changes in the availability of nutrients, including the micronutrients.
So we can find our chemistry balanced soil is now way out of balance, because before the life was added, we had balanced our soil as if it was dirt (dirt being lifeless soil).
Dirt is what commercial farmers have been taught is the perfect growing medium, it has been drilled into these folks for almost 150 years that they have to grow plants in dirt, they believe this with all their hearts.
We biologist come along and start studying forests of all types and we discover that real soil, that medium that no farmer has ever touched, is full of microscopic life forms.
We then discover that all these life forms we are finding in soil work as a supply chain for plant roots, we also find out they can access minerals that were previously locked up and not water soluble so the soil scientists couldn't find these nutrients with their testing methods.
The more closely we looked into the operation of this microscopic world the more startling the discoveries became.
We found out more about the way plants operate in their world and how so many different organisms coordinate their workings to mutual benefits.
We have even found out that water works on many, many levels within the microscopic world that is soil and plants and microorganisms.
The more we discover about the workings of this microscopic world of soil and plants, the more we are realizing the depth of interconnectivity of our entire world, we call Earth.
There is now a movement that is showing the way for the farmers of tomorrow which heals the lands previously destroyed in the name of feeding the world.
The whole concept rides on the idea of each country being able to produce most of the food needed by the populace of that country.
This flies in the face of those corporate giants who still promote unsustainable farming as the way to feed the masses.
Countries like India are rejecting the Modern agriculture method, even as Corporate Agriculture tries to force them into submission.
Individual farmers are showing that sustainable farming can work and it produces better quality foods while healing the soil.
Web sites like this one are showing that many people are ready to try better methods and to do less harm than good to the soil.
These people are the ones who will be seen as the hero's in the future for daring to try new and different things, and bringing the message of working with the earth and nurturing it back to health.
Many of the exudates plants give off underground are food for the microbiota, usually starting with either bacteria or fungi.
It is helpful for our understanding of these interactions if we can think of the bacteria as plankton and the fungi as krill, which in the oceans are the two basic organisms at the bottom of the food chain.
In the soil world, bacteria do a lot of work, breaking down rocks through the use of enzymatic actions, they then eat the newly freed minerals to allow them to create new compounds which their cells need to function and reproduce.
Bacteria with enough nutrients reproduce very rapidly, and expotentially, starting with a single organism we get 2,4,8,16,32 and so on with a division usually coming every minute or less.
Like other food animals, the more there are, the less likely all will be eaten by the predators, and bacteria have a lot of predators, starting with fungi, the level up the food chain.
Other predators of bacteria are amoeba, flagellates and on up to earth worms.
At each stage energy changes hands and new nutrients are formed, all these nutrients are used by another organism with any excess being returned to the soil (poop and pee).
Plant roots can take in the returned to the soil excess nutrients, now in forms the plant can use to fill its own needs of energy and cell structures.
At each step along the way, O2 is used and carbon in the form of CO2 is the usual release, the chlorophyll plants are higher critters and they do things differently, depending on the state the chloroplasts are in because of sunlight or night time.
This part of the microscopic world is fairly easy to understand.
It is when we start getting into the how do the plants do it and how do the microorganisms know what the plants are needing that we can get mired down in processes.
What starts this whole chain reaction, time after time is normally a signal sent out by the plant, through the root system leaking a particular exudate or a set of exudates.
These are sugars (like cake and cookies or pie) the bacteria love to eat, each particular sugar is a messenger asking for a particular bacteria to eat its favorite food, usually a particular mineral.
In any one exudate there might be hundreds of different sugar messengers, each one directed at a different species of bacteria.
Once the bacteria have eaten all they can hold and have excreted the excess, they shut down (food coma) until they process their full bellies and become hungry again.
At this point some predator comes along and devours the bacteria, eating all they can hold and excreting the excess, and another predator of that predator comes to feed and so on.
All during this frenzy of eat, poop, be eaten, the plant roots begin sucking up the nutrient minerals it asked for which started the frenzy.
Our job as caretakers is to nurture the soil, adding all the different "critters" we can provide so there is an abundance of life in the soil and the moisture required for all to flourish.
When we get it right or even just near right, the plants reward us by growing big and strong so they can put out fruits (their reproductive parts) for us to gather and then eat.
If we compost any waste (both from processing to eat and from eating) and put that material back into the soil, we are completing the circle of life.
When we do this on a regular basis, we are sustainable farming.
All the microorganisms in the soil feed and protect the plants from diseases, insect infestations and airborne pollutants.
When one of these "nasties" does manage to "infect" some plant tissues, several things will happen in a determinant series of events.
As the microbiota respond to these distress calls, the plant is made able to defend itself and drive off the invader.
It is when the soil doesn't have a full battery of organisms that plants can find themselves in serious trouble.
If the plant can not deter the attacker, the will succumb and at that point they will send out distress calls.
This is what insects can smell, hear and even see since the plant uses exudates in the soil, releases pheromones into the air through their stomata and they also send sound waves by vibrating various parts of their "bodies".
They are literally calling out for their own demise, since the "critters" that respond to these signals are the recyclers.
The sucking insects come to remove the life blood from the plant, which weakens the plant even more, this allows the bacteria and fungi to invade and start dissecting the plant, decomposing it for use by other organisms and returning it to the soil.
As the grower, we are distressed because we are loosing our plants, so we fight back (many use sprays of nasty chemicals for this fight) the best ways we know how.
For the grower who has reached the sustainable soil level, the fight can be won fairly easily since they can brew an aerated compost tea and spray that on the soil and the plant, thus giving the plant some extra protection as well as providing the soldiers the plant needs to win the war.
If we don't have the sustainable soil, we might loose and our plants will die to be consumed by the decomposers.
Even if the grower looses the battle once or twice, as long as they keep adding to their soil the microorganisms they need, they will end up able to prevent any of the above evilness from occurring in their gardens.
For the large scale farmer, things are just scaled up, like if you have a recipe for 8 biscuits and you need to make 36, you just scale up your ingredients to make enough.
Once we have gotten our soil where we want it, all we need to do is monitor the soil so we can make small adjustments when we need to do so.
As for stirring, I pass by the barrel many times a day and that makes it easy to stop by and turn on the drill then turn it off on my way back from the shed. I only brew for 48 hours so it isn't as much trouble as it could be if I was brewing for longer time periods.
I consider the vortex setup very ideal and will eventually get around to building one over buying one, it just hasn't happened yet.
The vortex setup will be superior in growing microbes and fungi because of the constant vortex effect.
When it is used for evil, then watch out! When it is used for good, then things are much nicer. Like this tiny ad:
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