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Total Soil Biology

Discussion in 'Organic Lawn Care' started by Smallaxe, Feb 23, 2008.

  1. Kiril

    Kiril LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 18,334

    Memories of climbing trees with a can of kerosene come flooding back. [​IMG]
  2. Smallaxe

    Smallaxe LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 10,082

    I read the article and would like some clarification on what seems to be logical inconsistancies.

    The article portrayed tree roots as growing just under the leaf litter like the wild blackerries do and grow deeper into the earth simply for anchoring purposes and not so much for water or nutrients. Then the earthworms invade and eatup all the leaf litter mixing the nutrients in the O,A,E level soil horizons.

    I live in the Great Lakes region and we can dig an earthworm anywhere we go, so the invasion is here. I have never seen a barren forest floor that was not created by public park workers. Trees could not possibly have survived any drought year in this area if it did not have roots gathering moisture below 2 feet or so. I have personally witnessed tree roots coming into old crawl spaces for the moisture around the plumbing, an that is commonly 4 to 6 feet under ground and without question it was for the water.

    The nutrients are not being excavated and carted off to Canada they are being processed and moved deeper into the soil profile where tree roots are growing. 18 inches according to one article I read about nightcrawlers. If this keeps up eventually you have nutrient rich soil that is 18 inches thick.

    Saying that this is a bad thing is a logical contradiction.
    Straight sand with little or no OM, layered underneath straight clay with little or no OM, layered under a thin layer of rotted leaf OM, is better than a loam (sand, silt and clay mix) rich in OM?

    So what am I missing? In laymen's terms please.
    (I can read long technical articles but am very easily bored by them.) I only need to know the basic reason why hydrosorted mineral soils are better than loams in the case of the forest growth.
  3. Smallaxe

    Smallaxe LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 10,082

    Thanks Barry :) Anything you can find will be appreciated.
    Telling me about, Dr. Clive Edwards of OSU, is a great help already. At least I have a starting point.

    Your point about the deer population in the forest is well taken. When Dukes of Hazzard was a popular TV show, Uncle Jesse, was doing PSAs in Wisconsin for the DNR; praising the job they have done increasing the population of White Tails over the past 25 years (at that time).
    Now deer are littering the highway in the form of carcasses, wondering freely through residential neighborhoods in every town and trashing landscapes on a regular basis.

    Many of the pines that start up in the wild - after a large oak, maple, or whatever is blown over or dies back - has forked leaders by the time they are 2 feet tall because of excessive deer populations having the tops for lunch. Many of these saplings become sick and die. This year with the excessive snow fall they are even eating oak twigs with the dead leaves still on them.
    Deer season is a big money maker for DNR, retailers, restaurants and of course taverns so I don't see that changing any time soon.
  4. Kiril

    Kiril LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 18,334

    I think this is a question best put to the authors, but I will make some observations.

    I assume they are talking about an essentially undisturbed forest. Also, when a complex community of organisms live in a particular soil horizon, when something drastic changes with that horizon, you disrupt the balance. Trees will most likely adapt over time, the other organisms may or may not depending on what their living requirements are.
  5. ICT Bill

    ICT Bill LawnSite Platinum Member
    Messages: 4,115

    AAHHHH one of my favorite words these days


    You are right they are an essential part of the soil food web
    Termites are very cool, they actually farm fungi in there nests for food.
  6. Smallaxe

    Smallaxe LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 10,082

    Thanks for the reply. :)

    I remember my son brought home a petunia from school. Didn't look that well but spring was coming and it would probably make it. One nice day it started to rain while the plant was outside and the boy ran out to 'rescue' his plant from the 'acid rain'. lol. Well water is fine, but rain water makes a definate difference in how it thrives.

    Undisturbed forest or newly planted one - the general understanding of worms and their benefit has been called into question. If their 'discovery' is the exeption to the rule, then that, should have been a main focus of the article.

    The authors of this article reminded me of the type of 'education' my son recieved about rain and plant life. Calling that which is beneficial a hazard instead. Difficult to have a meaningful talk with them I'm sure. Am I wrong?

    If a nematode is 'ran out of town' because the soils are being blended into loams, so be it. Over all the soil profile, in the root zone of the tree, has benefitted, not starved.
    This idea of indoctrination vs education is one that warrants perpetual vigilance.

    The section about worms pruning (eating) the trees' root hairs and consuming beneficials is just bizarre. How can you teach the fundamentals of 'pruning' to someone who believes that what the worms do is evil? People are easily freaked out about pruning branches or roots enough the way it is. As a landscaper I have dealt with that misconception quite often.
  7. Kiril

    Kiril LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 18,334


    I think your reading more into this than is there. :) If you want a better idea of the research being done, check out the publications.


    You will find the research is pretty much limited to northern hardwood forests.
  8. Smallaxe

    Smallaxe LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 10,082

    I appreciated the, html, as opposed to, pdf, and also the fact that there was only 1 website listed. I got to the Homepage , but the 'Intro' button was "Page unavailale".
    "Citizen Science" button, brought up an Intro about Mark Horlocker of the Hartley Nature Center around Duluth.

    To read further I had to have a "Join an Ongoing Study" passport. That was also a 'page unavailable' response. The point is I tried. But IMO the forum is where someone who already knows the answer will pass it on.

    If you have a belief and/or an article that clearly explains how earthworms starve trees, we can start from there. You have to understand that it is similar to saying the Earth is flat and being held up by the big oil interests. :)

    There is a thread in the Commercial Landscape sub-forum on this site, that is called: 'because of all the fighting in the forums'. It brings into focus that I am not trying to start a fight. If you can show me the rational that the earth is flat and the oil companies really are the cosmic gods then - so be it. Being proved wrong only means that I've learned something new :)
  9. Kiril

    Kiril LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 18,334

    I'm not really sure what your trying to accomplish here? Once again, your questions are best directed to the people doing the research. I would suggest going through the site and read the material they have presented.

    If that is not enough, then read the studies you can download for free. I have not read it all, but the stuff I have read makes sense given the constraints of the research.

    I already provided the link to the publications page, here is the link to the summary of the research.

  10. Smallaxe

    Smallaxe LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 10,082

    You send me a teachers' guide for elemtary student that show how to waste 3 class periods building a cardboard box and rolling dice to understand why the worms are killing the forest. Why don't they put pictures of the fossilized worms and worm trails in the Grand Canyon?

    I am reading too much into this?
    Who documented the "No Worms on the North American continent"?
    Are they the first to successfully prove a negative?

    They only travel over the continent at the rate of a 1/2 mile per 100 years.
    Here is a class activity :) "How long for the worms to get from Jamestown to Duluth?"

    And those 'before' and 'after' pictures!?!
    It takes alot of nerve to call that crap science.
    Propagandizing the kids plain and simple. Like acid rain.

    Again I am not trying to start a fight Only expressing the frustration of junk science being sold to the culture; producing 'educated' kids who think they know something , but can't articulate clearly what they believe or why.

    I think the idea of "worms killing trees" is now at the top of stupid ideas list. Puts acid rain at #2.

    You didn't send me that, just to 'get me going' did you? lol.

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