"Life in the Soil" Carbon Economy Series April 2012 Santa Fe, NM

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Dr. Elaine Ingham, Chief Scientist at the Rodale Institute, presents a two hour talk in Santa Fe, NM on living soil. http://www.carboneconomyseries.com

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Presentation Transcript

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Life in the Soil Elaine Ingham, Ph.D. Chief Scientist, Rodale Institute

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Soil Microbiologist St. Olaf College, Double Major in Biology and Chemistry Master’s, Texas A&M, Marine Microbiology Ph.D., Colorado State University, Soil Microbiology Research Fellow, University of Georgia Assistant, Associate Professor, Oregon State University (1986 – 2001) President, Soil Foodweb Inc., 1996 – present New York, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Canada East and West, England, Rodale Institute, Pennsylvania, Chief Scientist 2011 - present Elaine Ingham, B.A., M.S., Ph.D.

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A Healthy Food Web Will: :

A Healthy Food Web Will: Suppress Disease (competition, inhibition, consumption; no more pesticides!) Retain Nutrients (stop run-off, leaching) Nutrients Available at rates plants require (eliminate fertilizer) leading to flavor and nutrition for animals and humans Decompose Toxins Build Soil Structure –(reduce water use, increase water holding capacity, increase rooting depth)

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Life in the Soil Japan video

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I eat aerobic bacteria and don’t like bad-tasting anaerobic bacteria at all. My job is to turn nutrients in bacteria into plant-available forms. The job pays well. I have 200 children, and 40,000 grandchildren. Who is in the soil? Hi! I’m Alaimus ! I’m from the town of Vegetable Roots!

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400X Total Mag

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Bacteria, fungi, humus, aggregates: microscope view

Josh Webber: Portmore Golf Course North Devon, UK:

Josh Webber: Portmore Golf Course North Devon, UK

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Swiss Chard Front area sprayed with one tea application Back area, normal organic practices From Daniel McLeod, Petaluma, CA

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Three compost teas applied. 2 x prior to seeding and 1 x post seeding. Compost tea greatly reduced weed pressure on paddock 12, when compared with conventional paddock 7   I am very excited about the progress to date and  very impressed with the dedication that the SFI crew show towards their client. Ian Smith, Mooreville, Tasmania

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Paddock 7  Onions with Conventional fertiliser and herbicide applications, planted same date                                         as paddock 12 Paddock 7  Onions with Conventional fertiliser and herbicide applications, planted same date  as paddock

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Close-up   showing clean seedbed. Paddock 12

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Overall view of paddock 12 low weed pressure

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Overall view of paddock 12 low weed pressure

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Paddock 7  Onion root system on coventional program. Poorer than Paddock 12. Paddock 7  Onion root system on coventional program. Poorer than Paddock 12.

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Well established root system on onion plant.  Paddock 12.

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Paddock 12  one spray run not treated with compost tea.(Can you spot the difference?)

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Bacteria …A few Fungi……Balanced ……..More Fungi…… Fungi Bacteria: 10 µg 100 µg 500 600 µg 500 µg 700 µg Fungi: 0 µg 10 µg 250 600 µg 800 µg 7000 µg Soil biological succession causes plant succession

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……….…..NO 3 …………...balanced………………..NH 4 NO 3 and NH 4 Protozoa.....B-f………..F-f………Predatory….. Microarthropods Forms of nutrients: Critical to understand

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Bare Parent Material 100% bacterial Cyanobacteria True Bacteria Protozoa Fungi Nematodes Microarths F:B = 0.01 “Weeds” - high NO3 - lack of oxygen F:B = 0.1 Early Grasses Bromus , Bermuda F:B = 0.3 Mid-grasses, vegetables F:B = 0.75 Late successional grasses, row crops F:B = 1:1 Shrubs, vines, Bushes F:B = 2:1 to 5:1 Deciduous Trees F:B = 5:1 to 100:1 Conifer, old- growth forests F:B = 100:1 to 1000:1 Soil Foodweb Structure Through Succession, Increasing Productivity What does your plant need?

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Bare Parent Material 100% bacterial Foodweb Development F:B = 0.01 “Weeds” F:B 0.1 Early Annuals F:B = 0.3 Mid-grass, vegies F:B = 0.75 Pasture, row crops F:B = 1:1 Bushes F:B = 2:1 to 5:1 Deciduous Trees F:B = 5:1 to 100:1 Old- growth F:B = 100:1 to 1000:1 Disturbance Pushes Systems “Backwards”, But How Far? Depends on Intensity, Frequency FIRE!!! Flood Insects Volcano! Humans? Cattle

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Lawns , trees, gardens or crops, the story is the same. Soil biology is being destroyed by human management. Roots are not going as deep as they should, and water, fertility and disease protection are lost.

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24 Peter M. Wild, Boston Tree Preservation Just because we see this all the time, does it mean this is how plants grow ?

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Without compaction roots can go deep Hendrikus Schraven holding ryegrass planted July 15, 2002 Harvested Nov 6, 2002 Mowed through the summer 70% Essential Soil, 30% Compost/organic fertilizer Compost tea once No weeds, no disease www.soildynamics.com

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Source: Conservation Research Institute Oxygen? Disease? Microbes?

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James Sotillo Elmsave.com Sod with 1 inch root systems put on sand, April 2010 Apply compost tea (make sure all the right organisms are in the tea!)

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Three weeks later, look how much the roots have grown This is what healthy soil life should do for you – no disease, no weeds, organic fertilizers

Examples of results of getting the biology “right”: Boston Tree Preservation; SafeLawns:

Examples of results of getting the biology “right”: Boston Tree P reservation; SafeLawns

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Lotusland, Santa Barbara, CA

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Compost Tea Test Trial Summer 2003 by Abron New Zealand Russell Snodgrass, SFI Advisor Biological V’s Conventional Approach to Soil Management

Background:

Background Trial area consists of two plots fenced off from stock and the pasture harvested every 20-30 days using a mower Trial was carried out on a conventional dairy farm in the Bay of Plenty, New Zealand All testing is done by Hill Laboratories and the Soil Foodweb Institute NZ Trial overseen by Mark Macintosh of Agfirst Consultants Trial started 1 October 2003 Trial finished 24 February 2004

Treatment:

Treatment Compost Tea Plot Three applications of compost tea and foods at 150L/ha applied every 4 weeks starting in October 2003 No fertiliser had been applied to the compost tea trial plot for the 12 months prior or throughout the trial Control Plot Conventionally fertilised with urea at an application rate of 75kg/ha every 6-8 weeks (450kg/ha per year) Phosphate Sulphur Magnesium applied at industry maintenance levels

Total Dry Matter Grown:

Total Dry Matter Grown

Average Clover % in Pasture Sward:

Average Clover % in Pasture Sward

Herbage Mineral Levels:

Herbage Mineral Levels

Biological Soil Test Results:

Biological Soil Test Results Biomass Data Control Compost Tea Active Bacteria (ug/g) Total Bacteria (ug/g) 64.2 348 30.4 257 Active Fungi (ug/g) Total Fungi (ug/g) 0.5 113 144 227 Fungi to Bacteria Ratio 0.32 0.88 Fungi Hyphal Diameter (um) 2.5 3 Protozoa (per gram) Flagellates Amoebae Ciliates 8395 8395 4046 58730 5873 1767 Mycorrhizal fungi root colonisation (%) 0 4 Soil Foodweb test done 4 weeks after 3rd application - Dec 2003

Nematode:

Nematode Type Control Compost Tea Variance Bacteria feeders 1.98 4.52 128% Fungal feeders 0.99 1.58 60% Fungal / Root feeders 1.09 0.24 78% Root feeders 0.99 0.12 - 87% Predatory Nematodes 0 0 0 Numbers per gram fresh soil

Key Results:

Key Results 11.78% increase in total dry matter grown over the control $307/ha increased milk income from the extra dry matter grown Big increases in herbage mineral levels, resulting in reduced animal health costs 780% increase in clover content giving the soil access to more free nitrogen Huge reductions in root feeding nematodes, providing a better environment for increased clover growth

Summary:

Summary The results from the trial show a significant increase in total yield More high quality pasture grown through the summer means more milk at a lower cost The huge increase in clover will mean substantial reductions in fertiliser nitrogen - this is possible because of the increased nitrogen fixing ability of the clover