It is said to take years to make and inch of soil. The fourth miracle is Crumb Structure. Composting is like baking a cake. Various ingredients are mixed, heated and transformed into a completely different material that looks nothing like the original. The work is done by bacteria. They reproduce until they run out of food and then die. About one third of finished compost is the skins of those dead bacteria. Those skins are sticky.
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The material is called muco-polysaccharide. It is both plant food and soil glue.
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Take a garden hose and blast our typical farm soil and a clump will break down and be washed away very quickly. The hose will have very little effect on a clump of compost and dried worm manure is like a brick. Its nutrition is glued up awaiting the enzymes of a plants roots to break it down.
When organic matter is added to the soil, the glue starts to stick soil particles together. The process is called agglutination. These crumbs of compost-glued soil allow air and water to permeate. In clay soils, known for their tiny particle size and impermeable nature, compost opens them up by building crumbs. How strange that the same living substance can create opposite effects in two different types of soil.
Plants use some of the sugars they produce and push those sugars out into the soil. This seems like a bad idea until you realize that bacteria are in the soil and they love sugar.
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They go nuts and start reproducing like crazy. Predators come and start eating the bacteria.
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The waste products from this messy life and death struggle are full of aqueous ammonium and nitrate from the belches and poops of the predators. The roots clean up the mess. So by sharing their bounty with the bacteria in the soil, plants get the nitrogen they need delivered on-time, at their root tips, in a perfect form for them to use. In this way plants create a living sheath of their symbionts around their roots like a protective stocking.
But, this only happens when the soil has a good supply of organic matter in the first place. The soil must have that reserve before this can happen. Compost is the perfect food to use. Sixth is the Mycorrhyzal Connection - A plant uses its roots to pick up the water and minerals it needs. Getting enough water and minerals can be a challenge. But plants have that rare and valuable sugar as an ace in the hole.
So they make a deal with tiny root-like fungal hairs. Visualize the familiar mushroom at the center of a network of fungal hyphae thin whispy roots. The plant feeds some of its sugars to a network of these tiny hairs. The hairs are only one cell wide and can grow out long distances.
2. Compost Moisture
This is an ENDO-mycorrhizal fungus. The hyphae enter the root and are digested by the root as food in an ongoing process. In this case they provide protein from their bodies as well an minerals and water. Other mycorrhizal fungi are ECTO- fungi in that they attach at the surface and do not penetrate the root. The plant gets a vastly increased network to draw from in exchange for a little sugar. The fungus can actually dissolve rock particles and create liquid minerals where there were none. Just think of sand in the soil. This means that our soil test may not mean as much as we think.
Yes, there may only be a few minerals in the soil we scrape up to test, but the plants have a root network hundreds of times larger. This is another example of how sharing resources can solve problems in unexpected ways. Our seventh miracle is The Claws of Life - Compost is made by trillions of bacteria, It contains both food for microorganisms and the critters themselves. When the soil is rich, compost has the ability to latch onto harmful chemicals and hold them out of circulation. The word for this is Chelation and it comes from the Latin word for claw.
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In The Russian nuclear reactor at Chernobyl blew up. The explosion scattered a mile-wide swath of intense radiation centered on Vienna, Austria.
What is particularly dangerous are radioactive Cesium and Strontium atoms. These two atoms will displace Calcium and end up in the bones causing cancer. Food production in the area was shut down by government decree.go
One farmer in Austria was selling vegetables to his regular customers. He was reported and inspectors came out to test his soil. His soil was contaminated so the officials ordered him to shut down. The farmer insisted that they test his vegetables. The vegetables were clean.
The inspector recalibrated his test equipment several times over several trips and eventually agreed that he could sell his vegetables. This was much needed as all the food was being trucked in from uncontaminated areas. His soil had been built up over ten years to This is so rich that he can walk out in any area of his field and stick his arm into the ground up to the elbow. Midwest Biosystems sells a compost turner that uses bacterial innoculants to make humus, not compost.
Edwin stresses the importance of making finished plant food-humus instead of just compost. One way to understand this is to think of all living things as made of lego blocks. The process of composting breaks down materials into very basic components. Humus is more complex, a reassembling of the legos into a more available plant food. Compost that has been cured has a better availability to plants because it has more humus in it. This purifying effect of organic matter is just another benefit of rich soil. In the U. Heavy metals and hydrocarbons are the main problems but they are no match for organic matter, compost and even mushrooms.
Out eighth miracle is Biological Farming - The idea that our food systems produce food that is less than it could be is no secret. There are more than 50 farmers markets in the Kansas City Metro. Consumers are flocking to them. He follows four rules that were suggested by our Natural Resource Conservation Service. The Four Keys to Healthy Soil, are 1. Minimize disturbance 2. Maximize diversity 3.
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