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Repairing the Soil Food Web

Discussion in 'Organic Lawn Care' started by Gerry Miller, Oct 15, 2007.

  1. Kiril

    Kiril LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 18,308

    gosh darn, once again I have let myself get drawn into Kiril's politically motivated bashfest. [​IMG]

    I apologize to those people who visit this forum in search of accurate information. Politics have no place on this forum and I implore everyone here to keep the discussions focused on how best to apply the scientific knowledge we have at our disposal.

    I also encourage everyone who finds errors in any post to point them out. Nothing positive is to be gained by posting wrong information. To that end, I welcome any constructive criticism of the information I provide and if shown to be wrong (please provide credible references) I will be man enough to step up and admit it.
  2. Gerry Miller

    Gerry Miller LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 504

    I have not misrepresented anything. I know Dr. Ingham and NOTHING you have posted is in agreement with her findings. Again, you're back peddling and flip flopping from one post to another! You obviously know nothing about soil biology, what Dr. Ingham work is all about, and the data she has documented. Your typical far left wing liberal slight of hand and misdirection crap doesn't really fool anyone. You have attempted to twist my post into something I never said. There are no half truth's to what I have posted. LOL! You are a liar and phony and have absolutely no credibility in any of your statements, since you'll flip flop from one post to another. That's the end of the story! This is just another desperate attempt for attention, a cry for help. You really need to get professional help and soon!
  3. Gerry Miller

    Gerry Miller LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 504

    This is some info from David Hall, the one time monitor of this organic site. I thought the info was interesting.

    "My first consideration is whether what I'm planning to use is either alive now or was once alive and is now a mix of protein, carbohydrate, vitamins, and minerals. Of course I am not talking about using cobra venom or hemlock meal, but within some reasonable rules there are some excellent sources of real food for your soil microbes.

    Back a little more than 10 years ago, the state of the art for studying soil species was to set up a petri dish and dust it with dirt. Using that approach, scientists could grow about a dozen varieties of microbes in quantities. In their wildest imaginations, the sum total of soil microbe species predicted to live in the soil was around 50. With numbers that low there was no way to understand how complex things could happen in the soil. With the advent of DNA testing, scientists soon found that number of species was more like 35,000 species. Suddenly this new complexity of species was giving credence to the idea that a "web" of food chains existed underground and that web could be complex enough to answer the burning questions. Further DNA testing upped the species count to 100,000.

    These creatures are bacteria, algae, fungi, and protozoa. Larger creatures include the more complex nematodes and micro-arthropods. All these creatures need protein, minerals, vitamins, carbohydrates, and enzymes to exist and thrive. Historically (over the last 4 billion years) these creatures sustained themselves by feeding off of things that either died at the surface of the soil or the excreted waste materials of the surface dwellers. But remember the web? Inside the soil there are creatures dying and excreting, too. When you have thousands or hundreds of thousands of creatures dying and excreting, and you add in the cultures of predators and prey, you end up with the "soil food web."

    In Mother Nature's way, this soil food web is the way that plant food is created. When animals die on the surface, their bodies are decomposed by creatures living in the soil. This decay provides food for the microbes. In the middle of the food web there is produced plant food. How do I know this since the soil food web was only discovered a few years ago? I am making an assumption that the plants growing in the soil for the 3.9999 billion years prior to man's arrival were fed by the soil without synthetic fertilizer.

    In this way, Nature had to come up with a "normal" condition. Normal seems to correlate perfectly with healthy. An abnormal condition is called disease. In nature things swing around all over the place. What can cause abnormalities in the soil? In nature it is drought, floods, and fire. With technology it is also caused by spillage of purified chemicals. Examples of purified chemicals are ammonium nitrate and ammonium sulfate, both common fertilizers. Soil scientists over 200 years ago discovered that small amounts of these chemicals stimulated plant growth. Thus was borne the fertilizer industry. Researchers more recently discovered that mixtures of ammonium nitrate and oils were explosive and could be used in munitions. Thus the future production of massive quantities of ammonium nitrate was assured. But I'm digressing...

    The problem with using even small amounts of chemicals is that they do not provide any food to the microbes. There is no protein, carbohydrate, vitamins, minerals, or enzymes in these purified chemicals.

    Here's a list of things an organic program can do that no chemical can do. The beneficial microbes in the soil do the following.

    1. Decompose plant residues and manure to humus.
    2. Retain nutrients in humus.
    3. Combine nitrogen and carbon to prevent nutrient loss.
    4. Suppress disease.
    5. Produce plant growth regulators.
    6. Develop soil structure, tilth, and water penetration/retention.
    7. Clean up chemical residues.
    8. Shift soil pH to neutral and keep it there.
    9. Search out and retrieve nutrients in distant parts of the soil.
    10. Decompose thatch and keep it from returning.
    11. Control nitrogen supply to the plants according to need.
    12. Pull minerals out of inorganic soil components for plants.
    13. Provide the exact chemical nutrients to the plant that the plant has evolved with rather than man's cheapest chemical approximation.
    14. Provide exactly the required quantity of nutrients that the plant needs.
    15. Provide the nutrients at exactly the right time that the plant needs them.

    No chemical can do any of that. To be fair, no single microbe can do all of that either. In fact, it could be that it takes 10 different species, one working right after the other, to do any one item in the above list - sort of like a microbiological assembly line. But at least it's real easy to get all the right microbes. The biology of the soil is very complicated.

    At the same time, many chemicals inhibit the microbe's natural abilities to do these things. Herbicides, fungicides, and pesticides are all designed to kill various biological life. As a byproduct, they often kill off the beneficial microbes that are doing 1 through 15 above. Any break in the assembly line can interrupt the process, damage the mini ecosystem, and lessen the benefit of the organic methods. This leads to disease.

    Naturally occurring urea is most commonly found in urine but I suppose it could be made from uric acid (bird waste). Being only an ingredient in urine, purifying it in bulk is pretty much out of the economic question. Usually urine is used directly without further purification. My only objection to a purified urea is that it is not much of a food source for microbes. There is no protein, carbohydrate, vitamins, minerals, or enzymes. Natural urine may not have much of that either. I have never bought urea on purpose, at least not since I stopped using chemicals. I might have used it in the synthetic fertilizers I once used.

    Organic gardening is about feeding real food to the microbes in the soil - at least in my world. Urea is not on my list of foods. Some things that are alive and go into the soil include bacteria (from sources like compost, milk, and urine), fungi (from sources like compost), and nematodes. Some bacteria, fungi, and nematodes are grown and harvested for the purpose of being a soil additive. Materials that were recently alive include ground up grains, blood meal, feather meal, seaweed meal, fish hydrolysate, etc. These are great sources of protein, carbs, etc. These are real food for the microbes.

    Why does organic gardening work? Because once the soil microbes become healthy, they do all the work for you, just as Nature has been doing for billions of years. The microbes just need food. Before we came along to tame the wild, animals died on the ground. When they did, after the visible scavengers had their fill, the microbes finished the decomposition. Meat, blood, bones, hair, and feathers were the foodstuff for literally billions of years. The other source was plants trampled to the ground. But since we came along to build homes, we hardly ever allow the dead carcasses of wild animals to fertilize our property. For a loooooong time we improvised by using compost and manure. In my opinion compost and manure are not fertilizers in the sense that they provide very little protein. Since the turn of this century we are getting a little more sophisticated by using grains at the surface to simulate the dead animal proteins that used to end up on the surface. Any ground up bean, nut, or seed makes good fertilizer. Many ground up grasses and legumes also make good fertilizers because they have protein in their stems or flowers. Alfalfa is a perfect example of that. I would like to see someone come up with a way to pelletize kudzu like alfalfa is pelletized. We could feed the world with the kudzu in Alabama."

  4. YardPro

    YardPro LawnSite Gold Member
    Posts: 3,563

    I Do not tell you that you are wrong... i point out invalid information. I also try to educate the "organic only" crowd about why their argument that man made fertilizers are poisoning the earth is totally wrong.

    and i challenge you to find ONE SINGLE post where i made any statement about the nitrogen content of CGM.... go ahead.. try..

    I have no issue whatsoever with "organic" gardening. just some of the people that think of it as a religion.
  5. Prolawnservice

    Prolawnservice LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 612

    Natty, I think your thinking of TimTurf he's the CGM Nazi
  6. Kiril

    Kiril LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 18,308


    Soil Foodweb Technology is based on years of research by many different people. All science builds on previous science, the efforts of scientists to understand why the world works the way it does. Science is an on-going process of quantitative assessment and understanding of mechanisms on which life is based.

    In the following information, we have provided a number of links to pages that also share in this voyage of discovery. There is much yet to discover. Please work with us to find the sustainable approach…


    While truly an academic, Elaine is also passionate about sharing her knowledge and research findings with those at the grass roots level of working with soils. That includes not just farmers who grow crops, but also those who graze cattle, sheep and other livestock, fruit and vegetable growers, greens keepers, parks and gardens workers, nursery operators - in fact anyone who grows things, even if it's just plain old lawn grass.

    Elaine offers a way forward for sustainable farming. A way of improving the soils we work with now and a way to keep soils in this healthier state without damaging any other eco-system.

    The Soil Foodweb: It's Importance in Ecosystem Health

    Soil ecology has just begun to identify the importance of understanding soil foodweb structure and how it can control plant vegetation, and how, in turn, plant community structure affects soil organic matter quality, root exudates and therefore, alters soil foodweb structure. Since this field is relatively new, not all the relationships have been explored, nor is the fine-tuning within ecosystems well understood.


    If the soil is not in healthy condition for a particular plant, then those plants will be stressed. It may not be incorrect biology, however, that is the sole reason for stress. If the soil is lacking in a nutrient, the biology cannot do anything to make available a real lack of a chemical. In this case, the nutrient will have to be added to the soil, but preferably in a biologically available form.


    Biological complexity of a soil system can affect processes such as nutrient cycling, the formation of soil structure, pest cycles, and decomposition rates. Researchers have yet to define how much and what kind of food web complexity in managed ecosystems is optimal for these soil processes.


    Bacteria – add bacterial foods, such as simple sugars, simple proteins, simple carbohydrates. Molasses, fruit juice, fish emulsion and green plant material high in cellular cytoplasmic material feeds bacteria. The more kinds of sugars and simple substrates added, the greater the diversity of species of bacteria, and the more likely the full range of beneficials will be present.

    Fungi – add fungal foods, such as complex sugars, amino sugars, complex proteins, soy bean meal, fish hydrolysate, fish oils, cellulose, lignin, cutins, humic acids, fulvic acids, wood, paper or cardboard. The more kinds of fungal foods that are present, the greater the diversity of fungal species will grow.


    The “correct” density of bacteria, or amount of bacterial activity has just begun to be established, based on observation of what these levels are in different soils, climates, conditions, disturbances and plant species. Seasonal variations and the requirements of different plants appear to be the most important relative factors.

    The “correct” density of fungal biomass, or amount of fungal activity, has just begun to be established, based on observation of these levels in different soils, climates, conditions, disturbances and plant species. Seasonal variations and the requirements of different plants appear to be the most important relative factors.


    The soil environment. Organisms live in the microscale environments within and between soil particles. Differences over short distances in pH, moisture, pore size, and the types of food available create a broad range of habitats.


    Land management practices can be chosen to increase the amount of carbon sequestered as soil organic matter and reduce the amount of CO2, a greenhouse gas, released to the atmosphere.


    Soil physics may have to be improved as well, and it is the organisms that build soil structure. Physics (soil aggregate structure), chemistry, and biology work together. It is silly to talk about any one of them being "most important": soil biology, soil chemistry and soil physics all have to be optimal for the chosen plants in order for the plants to grow well.


    Bacteria need N, P, K, Ca, and all the other nutrients as well, and obtain those from organic matter and from inorganic sources as well. Various species of bacteria can solubilize mineral elements from the mineral components of soil, but no one species can effectively solubilize ALL minerals.
  7. Gerry Miller

    Gerry Miller LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 504

    What a shameful back-tracking and parsing of words. The exaggerations and outright falsehoods made by Kiril is a classic deflection of personal responsibility.

    In the numerous examples of false and misleading assertions documented by Kiril's posts, who refuses to personally accept responsibility for his exaggerations and falsehoods, tries to justify the exaggerations and falsehoods by twisting and taking out of context my statements. The old slight of hand and misdirection, again. Shame on you for your decision to deliberately distort what I have posted and for your ongoing decision to parse words and deflect responsibility for your exaggerations and lies.
  8. tungsten33

    tungsten33 LawnSite Member
    Posts: 31

    It's quite clear that Kiril doesn't know what he's talking about. He needs to take Dr Ingham's classes before he makes any more stupid posts like that.
  9. Gerry Miller

    Gerry Miller LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 504

    I agree, 100%! Unfortunately, he wouldn't take any of her classes since he's under the impression that he already knows all things! LOL!

    His posts reminds me of another quote by Albert Einstein;

    "Whoever undertakes to set himself up as a judge of Truth and Knowledge is shipwrecked by the laughter of the gods."

    I can hear them laughing!!! LOL!
  10. Kiril

    Kiril LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 18,308

    Every single one of those references are from Dr. Ingham's website and publications. I am merely showing the inconsistencies between Gerry's posts and his primary source of information.

    It just never ends with you guys does it. Instead of addressing the issues being presented, you choose to ignore them and instead engage in your baseless bashfest. Why not explain how these posts ARE consistent with the information source.

    Here is another example of incorrect information supplied by Gerry.


    Sourgrass is a common name given to several species of Oxalis


    Oxalis is the largest genus in the wood sorrel family Oxalidaceae

    Classification for Kingdom Plantae Down to Genus Oxalis L.

    And his list of sourgrasses:







    Personally, I'm curious where he got his information regarding what he considers "sour grasses" and how the presence of them indicates a lack of calcium. Care to provide a link to that source?

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