When a biological system is in existence in your soil profile, the need to fertilise with biological products still exist, but your input costs are much lower due to the fact that the symbiotic relationship with the plant roots and the soil biology is working to build the soil food web.

You may ask: How does this happen?

The plant’s fine root hairs exude liquid exudates into the plant’s rhizosphere (the region of soil around the roots in which the plant’s chemistry and microbiology are influenced through growth, respiration, and nutrient exchange). Plant exudates are used by soil bacteria, fungi, plus many other soil micro-organisms as a food source. While feeding on these exudates, the soil micro-organisms excrete carbon. In exchanging exudates from the root hairs, the plant receives the minerals it requires from the soil to utilise in plant growth or reproduction by way of fruiting or flowering.

For example, if a plant requires copper, the soil biology in association with help from mycorrhizal fungi supplies the copper from the soil profile to the plant root hairs. The mycorrhizal fungus is a network of fine white hairs spread throughout the soil profile which can spread many metres away from the plant, and supply the required copper in our example. This natural way of growing strengthens the plant’s immune system against insect or pathogenic fungal attacks by increasing the plant’s natural sugars.

Not only do the plant’s higher natural sugars act as a defence mechanism, but as an added benefit, they increase the flavour of fruits, nuts, berries and vegetables, as well as the intensity of colours in cut flowers, and they enhance the length of the flowering period of plants which in turn increases crop yield.

In his book, “Teaming With Fungi”, Jeff Lowenfels writes that…” A staggering 80 to 95 per cent of all terrestrial plants form symbiotic relationships with mycorrhizal fungi”.

IF you use synthetic fertiliser, then this symbiotic relationship is impaired or does not exist.

When plants are force-fed synthetic nutrients in a salt form, then the soil just becomes a medium to hold the plant up. Because the plant’s natural system is not being used, then the plant and the whole crop are set up for insect and pathogenic fungal attack, and guess what, ironically, the same company that supplied you the synthetic fertiliser just so happens to be able to supply sprays to control insects or pathogenic fungal attack.

To understand whether your crop needs to be dominated by bacteria or fungi, there is an easy guide. If your crop is in the ground LONGER than 12 months, then the soil profile needs to be dominated by beneficial fungi. However, if your crop is mostly in the ground LESS THAN 12 months, then the soil profile needs to be bacterially dominated, and with pasture/grass a 50/50 split between beneficial fungi and bacteria is required.

Go to “Improve Crop Yield and Crop Quality” to read more.

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