Take a look at this amazing resource I’ve just discovered, it’s Dr Elaine Inghams lessons on the soil food web, as well as creating your own composts and compost teas/extracts. The information contained hereinafter is often behind a paywall.
“Elaine Ingham, Chief Scientist at Rhodale Institute came to Hawi, Hawai’i in July 2012 to deliver a 5 day seminar dedicated to studying, understanding, and improving our soil biology to assist in ecologically sound agricultural practices. This is where I got my introduction to the microscope and learned much of it’s importance. This was some of the best 30 hours of class ever, and I often re-watch this epic series to refresh myself and discover more as I tune my own magnification of understanding this microscopic wonderland.” – Drake of Natural Farming Hawaii.
This presentation consists of 18 videos containing a total of 26 hours of footage. For information purposes the audio quality is a little poor and the presentation slides are slightly out of focus.
“Neem seed cake also reduce alkalinity in soil, as it produces organic acids on decomposition. Being totally natural, it is compatible with soil microbes, improves and rhizosphere microflora and hence ensures fertility of the soil. Neem Cake improves the organic matter content of the soil, helping improve soil texture, water holding capacity, and soil aeration for better root development.” – Wikipedia
There it is, another added benefit of the Neem Cake is its ability to create a favourable growing environment on the more alkaline soils. So not only are you getting an excellent source of organic nutrients and the “pest and disease resistance” it’s also working as a soil conditioner too.
The below shows how soil PH affects the availability of nutrients to the plants, it’s useful as a general guide.
A biochar-based soil improver, enriched with species of mycorrhizal fungi, actinomyces bacteria and trace elements is helping to combat the root-knot nematode – significantly increasing yields for organic tomato growers in Portugal.
Biochar is a highly porous, high carbon form of charcoal used to improve soil nutrition, growing conditions and soil structure. It is made from any waste woody biomass that has been charred at a low temperature with a restricted supply of oxygen, a process called pyrolysis. This process results in a stable form of carbon that is removed from the atmospheric carbon cycle when added as a soil amendment.
“Where we have incorporated Carbon Gold Soil Improver in the very sandy soil at our Portuguese nursery we have seen a 7% yield increase and a lower level of nematode infestation than areas that were not treated.” – Paul Howlett, Head of Agronomy at Vitacress Tomatoes
Vitacress Tomatoes (formerly Wight Salads) trialled Soil Association and SKAL approved enriched biochar from UK biochar company, Carbon Gold, from June 2013 to April 2014 in order to improve the sandy soils at their Portuguese nursery. They applied 2kg per square meter to a 5 hectare trial plot taken to a depth of 30cm, analysing the outcomes against a 5 hectare control area with the same crop.
The increase in crop yield was significant. By week 24 they realised a 7% higher yield, (an additional 0.9kg per m2) compared to the 5ha control plot. This equated to an additional 2,600kg Piccolo Cherry on the Vine tomatoes.
In the Vitacress trial plots it became evident that the colonies of mycorrhizal fungi, using biochar as a refuge in the soil, were able strike out at parasitic Meloidogyne nematodes, enticing and devouring the microscopic pests and protecting the plant roots from attack.
Continue reading “Biochar Helps Combat Nematodes And Increases Yields”
A thorough, free, easy-to-read guide for ecological soil management which includes nutrient management, nutrient cycles, cover crops and other soil-improving practices. “Building Soils for Better Crops is a one-of-a-kind, practical guide to ecological soil management, now expanded and in full color. It provides step-by-step information on soil-improving practices as well as in-depth background—from what soil is to the importance of organic matter. Case studies of farmers from across the country provide inspiring examples of how soil—and whole farms—have been renewed through these techniques. A must-read for farmers, educators and students alike.” LINK: http://www.sare.org/Learning-Center/Books/Building-Soils-for-Better-Crops-3rd-Edition DIRECT DOWNLOAD: https://planetpermaculture.files.wordpress.com/2015/04/buildingsoilsforbettercrops.pdf
I found this “resource for instructors” when browsing the net and thought it would be useful for all, teacher or not. The document is 700 pages long so I’ve not had a chance to review it all yet but it’s an outstanding free resource, it also proives a good structure for those to test their knowledge on organic growing. They are also pointpoint presentations and videos on the link below so be sure to check those free resources out too.
“This manual is revolutionary, because of how dominant the chemical- and resource-intensive paradigmfor growing plants has become. As the world population grows and our climate changes, agricultural and food systems are ever more stressed and will be so for years to come. Diversified farming systems employing the techniques described in this manual absolutely can feed the world, as many studies continue to prove. If the future of food and agriculture is at all sustainable and just, it is far more likely to employ the methods in this manual than so-called conventional agricultural techniques. But perhaps most important for you, our readers, this manual is useful because it works. The practices described here can be employed in a variety of climates, soils, and educational settings. The information on soil science provides a solid grounding for the practices described, and the units on social and environmental issues offer a broader context for those interested in sustainable agriculture.”
DIRECT DOWNLOAD: https://planetpermaculture.files.wordpress.com/2015/03/teaching_organic_farming_pdf.pdf
Suppression of the root-knot nematode [Meloidogyne incognita (Kofoid & White) Chitwood] on tomato by dual inoculation with arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi and plant growth-promoting rhizobacteria.
Arbuscular mycorrhizal (AM) fungi and plant growth-promoting rhizobacteria (PGPR) have potential for the biocontrol of soil-borne diseases. The objectives of this study were to quantify the interactions between AM fungi [Glomus versiforme (Karsten) Berch and Glomus mosseae (Nicol. & Gerd.) Gerdemann & Trappe] and PGPR [Bacillus polymyxa (Prazmowski) Mace and Bacillus sp.] during colonization of roots and rhizosphere of tomato (Lycopersicon esculentum Mill) plants (cultivar Jinguan), and to determine their combined effects on the root-knot nematode, Meloidogyne incognita, and on tomato growth. Three greenhouse experiments were conducted. PGPR increased colonization of roots by AM fungi, and AM fungi increased numbers of PGPR in the rhizosphere. Dual inoculations of AM fungi plus PGPR provided greater control of M. incognita and greater promotion of plant growth than single inoculations, and the best combination was G. mosseae plus Bacillus sp. The results indicate that specific AM fungi and PGPR can stimulate each other and that specific combinations of AM fungi and PGPR can interact to suppress M. incognita and disease development.
STUDY LINK: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21755407
Arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi affect both penetration and further life stage development of root-knot nematodes in tomato
The root-knot nematode Meloidogyne incognita poses a worldwide threat to agriculture, with an increasing demand for alternative control options since most common nematicides are being withdrawn due to environmental concerns. The biocontrol potential of arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF) against plant-parasitic nematodes has been demonstrated, but the modes of action remain to be unraveled. In this study, M. incognita penetration of second-stage juveniles at 4, 8 and 12 days after inoculation was compared in tomato roots (Solanum lycopersicum cv. Marmande) pre-colonized or not by the AMF Glomus mosseae. Further life stage development of the juveniles was also observed in both control and mycorrhizal roots at 12 days, 3 weeks and 4 weeks after inoculation by means of acid fuchsin staining. Penetration was significantly lower in mycorrhizal roots, with a reduction up to 32%. Significantly lower numbers of third- and fourth-stage juveniles and females accumulated in mycorrhizal roots, at a slower rate than in control roots. The results show for the first time that G. mosseae continuously suppresses root-knot nematodes throughout their entire early infection phase of root penetration and subsequent life stage development.
STUDY LINK: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22147206
Continue reading “Mycorrhizal Fungi Helps Protect Plants Against Root-knot Nematodes Infection”
Interesting little study concerning the positive effects this product can have on pests and diseases. Neem cake is a by-product from cold pressing of neem tree fruits and kernels and the solvent extraction process for neem oil. It’s often used as a natural source of macro (NPK) nutrients and other essential micro nutrients, it also acts as a “nitrification inhibitor” which prolongs the availability of nitrogen in the soil. I always add this to my potting mix in very small amounts, it goes a lot way, I think it’s great stuff. I’ve also started using it as a soil dressing on my allotment too. Nice permaculture product too, multifunctional uses, “recycled/reused” and organic.
“The effects of neem cake, a nutrient-rich organic material derived from neem seed, on plant-parasitic nematodes, Verticillium dahliae, and seedling damping-off diseases caused by Rhizoctonia solani and Pythium aphanidermatum were investigated. In greenhouse trials, 1% neem cake (mass/mass soil) caused a 67%–90% reduction in the number of lesion (Pratylenchus penetrans) and root-knot (Meloidogyne hapla) nematodes in tomato roots grown in three different soils. In the field, 1% neem cake (mass/mass soil) reduced the number of lesion nematodes by 23% in corn roots and 70% in soil around roots. Population densities of free-living nematodes were either enhanced or not affected by neem cake treatment. In laboratory tests, addition of 3% neem cake (mass/mass soil) to soil killed V. dahliae microsclerotia and increased soil pH from 5.2 to 8.7. Killing of microsclerotia appeared to be caused by generation of ammonia during decomposition of neem cake. In growth room assays, addition of 2% neem cake (mass/mass peat-based mix) to R. solani -infested peat-based mix 28 days before planting radishes reduced damping-off severity. In a sandy loam soil artificially infested with R. solani and a muck soil naturally infested with damping-off pathogens, addition of 0.5% neem cake (mass/mass soil) had no immediate effect on damping-off, whereas incubation of the amended soil for 7 days before planting radish or cucumber reduced damping-off severity. This suggested that neem cake was not directly toxic to the damping-off pathogens but that during incubation neem cake may have created a biological climate that was suppressive to disease.”
Continue reading “Neem Cake Pest And Disease Resistance”
A major review comparing organic and conventional farming has found organic crop yields are much higher than previously thought.
The analysis of 115 studies showed that organic crop yields were only 19.2% lower on average than conventional crops, a smaller difference than previous estimates.
Researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, also found that certain practices could further shrink the productivity gap between organic and conventional farming.
Senior study author Prof Claire Kremen said: “With global food needs predicted to greatly increase in the next 50 years, it’s critical to look more closely at organic farming, because aside from the environmental effects of industrial agriculture, the ability of synthetic fertilisers to increase crop yields has been declining.”
The researchers pointed out that the available studies comparing farming methods were often biased in favour of conventional agriculture, so the estimate of the yield gap is likely overestimated.
Continue reading “Organic Yields Higher Than Previous Estimates Claims New Study”
This is a fabulous short video I’ve just come across from a 90’s TV series called “Garden Naturally” by Barbra Damrosch and Eliot Coleman.
This is all really sound advice and its as relevant and accurate today as it was back then. To me it seems a little ahead of it’s time in a sense but then I guess these “gardening” techniques tend not to change a great deal and nor should they really. Excellent clip showing what organic gardening growing is all about, keeping it simple and always remembering to “feed the soil and the soil will feed the plants”.
Subjects covered: Soil Fungi, Rock Soil Amendments, Soil Aeration, Organic Matter, Nitrogen Fixation, Compost Making, Scything Weeds, Planting Soft Fruit, Pruning, Mulching Weeds, Soil Fertility & PH, Planting Techniques etc
More to come from Eliot Coleman, in the next few posts to the blog…