Crops, plants, and grass need good healthy soil for the best growth. The soil should have well aggregated soil particles with lots of air space between them. These aggregates help prevent the soil from washing or blowing away. It should have good drainage, and be able to hold water and nutrients in the root zone.
For example, a healthy soil should contain:
- 3-5% organic matter (humus)
- 25% air
- 25% water
- 45% minerals
- A healthy and diverse population of microorganisms
The humus fraction of the soil not only stores nutrients but also holds nutrients that are available for plant use in the root zone.
- Humic acids, released as organic matter decays, free soil minerals for plant use. Humic acid acts on phosphorous compounds in the soil, making them soluble in the soil solution and available for plants to use.
- Certain humus molecules form a ring around metal atoms preventing them from being locked away in the soil. This process is call chelation, and helps ensure that plants can benefit from iron, zinc, and other nutrients.
Compaction is the destruction of the soil structure. A compacted soil has little to no space between the soil’s particles for air and water. Compacted soils are hard and do not absorb water or nutrients well. They restrict a plant’s root development and thus its ability to reach subsoil moisture and nutrients. A compacted soil will have only 10-15% air and less than 1% organic matter. The remainder is minerals in the soil.
Soil Compaction can be caused by:
- Continual use of heavy equipment that compresses soil particles
- Untimely and/or excessive tilling, which can lead to soil puddling in wet soil
- Irrigation water, which can add additional high concentrations of minerals/salts
- Overuse of the wrong types of fertilizers for your plants' needs
- Salts and chemical residues
Fertilizer salts and chemical residues can build up in the soil, impacting soil quality. Leftover salts and chemicals can bind soil particles, sealing the soil’s pores. The soil will shed water, lack oxygen, and have reduced water holding capacity. These salts can hold on to water so tightly the plant can’t get the water from the soil and plant wilting occurs earlier than it should. This requires more costly watering and reduces production.
The toxic effects of fertilizer salts and chemical residues also reduce the amount of humus in the soil. One of the leading factors to reduced production in our soils today is caused by low levels of carbon (humus). There is only one way to rebuild this carbon fraction of the soil and that is with the help of microbes. They recycle carbon from plant debris and also from their own bodies as they multiply and die. We have to learn to work with the life in our soil to be able to change this destructive pattern.
All of these factors limit the soil’s productivity and allow for the proliferation of negative or pathogenic microbial populations. This increases your cost to grow crops. It reduces production and gets worse over time when corrective measures are not employed. Pathogens are becoming more resistant to all the chemicals we use for several reasons: overuse, underuse, and incorrect usage to list a few reason this is occurring. Many fungi today develop tolerances to fungicides in a single growing season leading to the use of more and more to try to control these pathogens. We can start winning the battle by working to improve the vigor of the soil life and use only the chemicals we need to use but use them correctly. Then we re-inoculate the soil with soil inoculants to build the population of beneficial microbes again. It is time for us all to work to solve these problems instead of continuing down the path we are on.
Soil with a low percentage of organic matter (humus) allows water to run off, taking soil and nutrients from a field or yard. Increasing a soil’s organic matter by 1-3% can reduce erosion by one-fifth to one-third or more in some soils. Soils with low microbial activity do not form soil aggregates that resist wind and water erosion. We can help turn this around by using products from Bio S.I. for lawn, gardens, agriculture, turf, or any place we grow plants. Microbes build the soil humus which holds water and nutrients in the rhizosphere. This helps keep fertilizers and chemicals out of our water supply and in the soil for plants to use for growth and production.
Heavy clay soils are dense and poorly drained, making it hard for plants to grow deep, strong roots. Organic matter (such as the organic carbon in humus) encourages soil particle aggregation and improves the quality of clay soils.
Soil microbes (such as those found in Bio S.I.’s products) are even more important in the aggregation process here. Gummy substances produced by the soil microbes during the decay of fresh organic matter help bind the soil clumps together. These improved aggregation qualities of clay soil, enhances its tilth and permeability so it is easier to work, well-aerated, and absorbs water readily. There is a good way to help speed this process up and also leave as much plant debris behind as possible, reduce tillage, and add a good quality compost if the budget allows. These things feed the soil life and help microbes grow which makes your soil more vigorous and productive.
Bio S.I.’s Soil Solution
Increasing organic matter (humus) in the soil is the natural way to overcome all of these soil problems. A good soil and salts management program including Bio S.I. products will do that. Growers should always use a good soil and water test each year to determine your input needs.
Bio S.I. products contain a broad and diverse population of naturally occurring, beneficial soil microorganisms. These soil microorganisms have the ability to help disassociate salts and breakdown chemicals in the soil and create the following benefits:
- Soil becomes loose, mellow, and well-aerated
- Soil has increased water holding capacity
- Soil has increased microbial activity
- Improves the organic matter (humus) fraction of the soil
- Improves root mass of plants
- Improves nutrient availability
- Improves plant and soil vigor
- Reduces fertilizer and chemical residues
- Reduces crusting and hard pan
- Improves soil life forms like earthworms
Using Bio S.I. products per the Bio S.I. soil building program, there will be an increase in the humus content annually. You’ll see a difference during the first growing season (less crusting, better water penetration). But it is really noticeable in the second season and on. Your soil will be easier to work, while (in most cases) your input costs will go down depending on the crops you are growing and the production level you need to achieve. Although your production may increase or remain the same, the quality of your crops will improve.