Soil Microbiology: our worker friends


Protozoa

this post is an extract from future directions – link below

Source:  http://www.futuredirections.org.au/publication/living-soils-role-microorganisms-soil-health/


Key Points

•Fertile soils teem with microorganisms, which directly contribute to the biological fertility of that soil.

•Biological fertility is under-studied and our scientific knowledge of it is incomplete.

•In addition to fertility, soil microorganisms also play essential roles in the nutrient cycles that are fundamentally important to life on the planet.

•In the past, agricultural practices have failed to promote healthy populations of microorganisms, limiting production yields and threatening sustainability.

•Scientific research is exploring new and exciting possibilities for the restoration and promotion of healthy microbial populations in the soil.

‘Soil is essential for the maintenance of biodiversity above and below ground. The wealth of biodiversity below ground is vast and unappreciated: millions of microorganisms live and reproduce in a few grams of topsoil, an ecosystem essential for life on earth…’

From: Australian Soils and Landscape, An Illustrated Compendium

Summary

Soil fertility comprises three interrelated components: physical fertility, chemical fertility and biological fertility. Biological fertility, the organisms that live in the soil and interact with the other components, varies greatly depending upon conditions and it is highly complex and dynamic. It is the least well-understood fertility component. In addition to soil fertility, soil microorganisms play essential roles in the nutrient cycles that are fundamental to life on the planet. Fertile soils teem with soil microbes. There may be hundreds of millions to billions of microbes in a single gram of soil. The most numerous microbes in soil are the bacteria, followed in decreasing numerical order by the actinomycetes, the fungi, soil algae and soil protozoa. A better understanding of soil microbiology is essential if agricultural production is to meet the needs of a growing world population. In many regions, the healthy microbe population is still being threatened, and not promoted, by agricultural practices.

Definition

Soil microbiology is the study of organisms in soil, their functions and how they affect soil properties. Soil microorganisms can be classified as bacteria, actinomycetes, fungi, algae, protozoa and viruses. Each of these groups has different characteristics that define the organisms and different functions in the soil it lives in. Importantly, these organisms do not exist in isolation; they interact and these interactions influence soil fertility as much or more than the organism’s individual activities.

Bacteria: Bacteria are organisms that have only one cell and are, therefore, microscopic. There are anywhere from 100 million to one billion bacteria in just a teaspoon of moist, fertile soil. They are decomposers, eating dead plant material and organic waste. By doing this, the bacteria release nutrients that other organisms could not access. The bacteria do this by changing the nutrients from inaccessible to usable forms. The process is essential in the nitrogen cycle.

Actinomycetes: Actinomycetes are soil microorganisms like both bacteria and fungi, and have characteristics linking them to both groups. They are often believed to be the missing evolutionary link between bacteria and fungi, but they have many more characteristics in common with bacteria than they do fungi. Actinomycetes give soil its characteristic smell. They have also been the source of several significant therapeutic medicines.

Fungi: Fungi are unusual organisms, in that they are not plants or animals. They group themselves into fibrous strings called hyphae. The hyphae then form groups called mycelium which are less than 0.8mm wide but can get as long as several metres. They are helpful, but could also be harmful, to soil organisms. Fungi are helpful because they have the ability to break down nutrients that other organisms cannot. They then release them into the soil, and other organisms get to use them. Fungi can attach themselves to plant roots. Most plants grow much better when this happens. This is a beneficial relationship called mycorrhizal. The fungi help the plant by giving it needed nutrients and the fungi get carbohydrates from the plant, the same food that plants give to humans. On the other hand, fungi can get food by being parasites and attaching themselves to plants or other organisms for selfish reasons.

Some of the functions performed in soil by fungi are:

Decomposers – saprophytic fungi – convert dead organic material into fungal biomass, carbon dioxide (CO2), and small molecules, such as organic acids.

Mutualists – the mycorrhizal fungi – colonise plant roots. In exchange for carbon from the plant, mycorrhizal fungi help to make phosphorus soluble and bring soil nutrients (phosphorus, nitrogen, micronutrients and, perhaps, water) to the plant. One major group of mycorrhizae, the ectomycorrhizae, grow on the surface layers of the roots and are commonly associated with trees. The second major group of mycorrhizae are the endomycorrhizae that grow within the root cells and which are commonly associated with grasses, row crops, vegetables and shrubs.

Parasites: The third group of fungi, pathogens or parasites, causes reduced production or death when they colonise roots and other organisms.

Algae: Algae are present in most of the soils where moisture and sunlight are available. Their number in the soil usually ranges from 100 to 10,000 per gram of soil. They are capable of photosynthesis, whereby they and obtain carbon dioxide from atmosphere and energy from sunlight and synthesise their own food.

Algae

The major roles and functions of algae in soil are:

Playing an important role in the maintenance of soil fertility, especially in tropical soils.

Adding organic matter to soil when they die and thus increasing the amount of organic carbon in soil.

Acting as a cementing agent by binding soil particles and thereby reducing and preventing soil erosion.

Helping to increase the water retention capacity of soil for longer time periods.

Liberating large quantities of oxygen in the soil environment through the process of photosynthesis and, thus, facilitating submerged aeration.

Helping to check the loss of nitrates through leaching and drainage, especially in un-cropped soils.

Helping in the weathering of rocks and the building up of soil structure.

Protozoa: These are colourless, single-celled animal-like organisms. They are larger than bacteria, varying from a few microns to a few millimetres. Their population in arable soil ranges from 10,000 to 100,000 per gram of soil and they are abundant in surface soil. They can withstand adverse soil conditions, as they are characterised by a protected, dormant stage in their life cycle.

Protozoa

The major functions, roles and features of protozoa are:

Most protozoans derive their nutrition from feeding or ingesting soil bacteria and, thus, they play an important role in maintaining microbial/bacterial equilibrium in the soil.

Some protozoa have been recently used as biological control agents against organisms that cause harmful diseases in plants.

Several soil protozoa cause diseases in human beings that are carried through water and other vectors. Amoebic dysentery is an example.

Viruses: Soil viruses are of great importance, as they may influence the ecology of soil biological communities through both an ability to transfer genes from host to host and as a potential cause of microbial mortality. Consequently, viruses are major players in global cycles, influencing the turnover and concentration of nutrients and gases.

Despite this importance, the subject of soil virology is understudied. To explore the role of the viruses in plant health and soil quality, studies are being conducted into virus diversity and abundance in different geographic areas (ecosystems). It has been found that viruses are highly abundant in all the areas studied so far, even in circumstances where bacterial populations differ significantly in the same environments.

Soils probably harbour many novel viral species that, together, may represent a large reservoir of genetic diversity. Some researchers believe that investigating this largely unexplored diversity of soil viruses has the potential to transform our understanding of the role of viruses in global ecosystem processes and the evolution of microbial life itself.

Nematodes: Not microorganisms (strictly speaking), nematode worms are typically 50 microns in diameter and one millimetre in length. Species responsible for plant diseases have received much attention, but far less is known about much of the nematode community, which play beneficial roles in soil. An incredible variety of nematodes have been found to function at several levels of the soil food web. Some feed on the plants and algae (the first level), others are grazers that feed on bacteria and fungi (second level), and some feed on other nematodes (higher levels).

Free-living nematodes can be divided into four broad groups based on their diet. Bacterial-feeders consume bacteria. Fungal-feeders feed by puncturing the cell walls of fungi and sucking out the internal contents. Predatory nematodes eat all types of nematodes and protozoa. They eat smaller organisms whole or attach themselves to the cuticle of larger nematodes, scraping away until the prey’s internal body parts can be extracted.

Like protozoa, nematodes are important in mineralising, or releasing, nutrients in plant-available forms. When nematodes eat bacteria or fungi, ammonium is released because bacteria and fungi contain much more nitrogen than the nematodes require.

Nematodes may also be useful indicators of soil quality because of their tremendous diversity and their participation in many functions at different levels of the soil food web.

Role and Functions

Collectively, soil microorganisms play an essential role in decomposing organic matter, cycling nutrients and fertilising the soil. Without the cycling of elements, the continuation of life on Earth would be impossible, since essential nutrients would rapidly be taken up by organisms and locked in a form that cannot be used by others. The reactions involved in elemental cycling are often chemical in nature, but biochemical reactions, those facilitated by organisms, also play an important part in the cycling of elements. Soil microbes are of prime importance in this process.

Soil microbes are also important for the development of healthy soil structure. Soil microbes produce lots of gummy substances (polysaccharides and mucilage, for example) that help to cement soil aggregates. This cement makes aggregates less likely to crumble when exposed to water. Fungal filaments also stabilise soil structure because these threadlike structures branch out throughout the soil, literally surrounding particles and aggregates like a hairnet. The fungi can be thought of as the “threads” of the soil fabric. It must be stressed that microbes generally exert little influence on changing the actual physical structure of the soil; that is performed by larger organisms.

Soil microorganisms are both components and producers of soil organic carbon, a substance that locks carbon into the soil for long periods. Abundant soil organic carbon improves soil fertility and water-retaining capacity. There is a growing body of research that supports the hypothesis that soil microorganisms, and fungi in particular, can be harnessed to draw carbon out of the atmosphere and sequester it in the soil. Soil microorganisms may provide a significant means of reducing atmospheric greenhouse gasses and help to limit the impact of greenhouse gas-induced climate change.

Conditions

We can see that healthy soils contain enormous numbers of microbes and substantial quantities of microbial biomass. This translates into an enormous potential for microbial activity when soil conditions (available carbon sources, moisture, aeration, temperature, acidity/alkalinity and available inorganic nutrients, such as nitrogen), are favourable. The potential for activity must be stressed because, under normal situations, the microbial population does not receive a constant supply of readily-available substrates to sustain prolonged high rates of growth.

Almost all soil organisms (except some bacteria) need the same things that we need to live: food, water and oxygen. They eat a carbon-based food source, which provides all their nutrients, including nitrogen and phosphorus. They require a moist habitat, with access to oxygen in the air spaces in soil. These reasons explain why 75 per cent of soil organisms are found in the top five centimetres of soil. It also explains, however, why many of our agricultural soil microorganism populations are depleted. Unfortunately, some of the agricultural practices that were standard in Australia up until the 1980s, such as excessive land clearance, the burning of stubble, inappropriate fertiliser application and over-tillage, have degraded soils and produced conditions such as salinity, acidification, soil structural decline and desertification.

Remediation

While in many areas, our agricultural soils are still considered to be under threat, in recent decades, changes to the farming practices detailed above are helping to create healthier soils. Until recently, this was considered the only way to improve biological fertility. Creating the right conditions and microbes will come and, alternatively, if the conditions are not correct, efforts to introduce beneficial microbes are doomed to fail. Recently, however, scientific research has achieved significant success in the inoculation of soils and seeds with beneficial bacterial and, in particular, mycorrhizal fungi to improve yields and to promote healthier soils. While still in an early stage of development, field trials have been positive and may, in the future, lead to a wide range of benefits based upon improved soil biological fertility.

Conclusion

In the past, soil microbiological science has focussed upon the harmful or pathogenic threat posed by a small number of soil-dwelling microorganisms. This is has skewed our understanding away from most of soil microorganisms that pose no threat to human health or to agricultural production and that perform essential roles in mechanisms that are fundamentally important to the sustainability of human civilisation and life on the planet generally. This emphasis, however, is changing. Interdisciplinary soil research of the future must acknowledge a dynamic region of interacting processes: the holistic nature of living soil and that this portion of soil itself is but a part of a greater soil system. By using integrative methods including non-destructive imaging, next-generation chemical analysis with substantial space and time resolution, and simulation modelling, the secrets of the dynamic soil and biological relationship will be revealed. Holistic soil science has the potential to substantially increase understanding of plant-soil systems and provide guidance for pressing issues of the 21st century, such as agricultural sustainability and environmental change.

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50 Years Ago, This Was a Wasteland. He Changed Everything


For Good


Homemade Weed Control: no need to poison children


acidif there is a woody plant i want to be rid of, i cut the plant about 1 foot from the ground. this leaves a good amount to pull the whole root ball from the ground.  and then i pour a few drops of hydrochloric acid into the top where the cut is.

Hydrochloric acid is a clear, colorless, highly pungent solution of hydrogen chloride in water. It is a highly corrosive, strong mineral acid with many industrial uses. Hydrochloric acid is found naturally in gastric acid. Wikipedia
Below is an excerpt from an article. Go here for full and original text.

Alternatives to chemical weed control
The cheapest weed control option is obviously prevention. There are many practices that we can adopt to ensure we do not introduce weeds onto our property.  There are 6 principles of weed management:1. Awareness – be aware of potential and existing weed problems.

2. Detection – look for any new weed infestations before they become too large or widespread.
3. Planning – Prioritise the treatment of weeds, what weeds threaten the profitability of your grazing    enterprise the most e.g. lippia, creeping lantana.
4. Prevention – far better than a cure, a $100/hour for a contractor to clean down seed laden machinery is much cheaper than any 20 litre drum of chemical.   Another example is feeding hay and grain only in designated areas to reduce risk of new ween introduction.
5. Intervene – Do it early this keeps a potentially large problem manageable.
6. Control and monitor – any weed needs to be monitored after control to ensure success.

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source    http://antoine.frostburg.edu/chem/senese/101/safety/faq/always-add-acid.shtml

Why is acid always added to water, and not the reverse?

A large amount of heat is released when strong acids are mixed with water. Adding more acid releases more heat. If you add water to acid, you form an extremely concentrated solution of acid initially. So much heat is released that the solution may boil very violently, splashing concentrated acid out of the container! If you add acid to water, the solution that forms is very dilute and the small amount of heat released is not enough to vaporize and spatter it. So Always Add Acid to water, and never the reverse.
Author: Fred Senese senese@antoine.frostburg.edu


source:    http://www.helpfulgardener.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=32&t=52357

Weed and Grass Killer Organic

Sat May 04, 2013 5:37 pm
Vinegar 5% is only slightly effective on many plants and works only in very hot dry weather.

Pickling Vinegar 9% works much better kills small plants works best in hot dry weather.

Dissolve 12 lbs. of salt in 5 gallons of boiling water. Works great in hot dry weather. Water softener salt is $5 for 50 lbs. Lowe’s and Home Depot.

Pickling Vinegar plus 10% salt works better. Kills most small plants except for the large 2 ft tall weeds, thistle weed and other hard to kill large weeds.

Stomach Acid is Hydrochloric Acid = Muriatic Acid = Brick Acid. Muriatic Acid contains 60% water. Dissolve 3 lbs. of salt in 3 gallons of hot water then add a gallon of 40% strength Muriatic Acid. Kills all weeds and grass.

Muriatic Acid is $4 and up per gallon, swimming pool supply has it the cheapest.

Re: Weed and Grass Killer. Organic
Sat May 04, 2013 10:22 pm
Almost forgot to mention. Put dish soap in the water it makes it stick to the plants. Some plants water runs right off like it is oily.

EIEIO

Re: Weed and Grass Killer. Organic
Wed May 08, 2013 1:12 am
I sprayed some weeds today about 10 am. It is now 6 pm the weeds are dead.

I mixed 1 quart of swimming pool type 30% muriatic acid with 2 quarts of water. Nothing else was added. Temperature here has been about 80 degrees all day. Now at 6 pm we are having 20 mph winds. Weeds are dried up and dead.

10% acid and 90% water works great.

Kills, pig weed, rage weed, lambs quarter weed, Ambrosia weed, several others.

kills this don’t know the name Image

Re: Weed and Grass Killer. Organic
Sat Jul 25, 2015 6:10 pm
Our HOA has 1 mile of fence line between pasture land and the road. In July 2015 I purchased 1200 pounds of Cargill TopFlow sodium chloride fine ground I used a Scotts professional spreader on the max setting of 15. After 1 week all grasses and most weeds are dying. Crabgrass, thorny weeds and vines look fine. Will repeat this in 3 weeks and again this winter (2015-2016). Hoping this is enough. Spring 2016 will tell. Looking for a 5 year solution. I may have to reapply 1x per year, but that is fine, compared to every 3 mos of Eraser (Round Up equiv) and I can do this in 1/10th of the time.


Further Reading

chemistry fun including muriatic acid

http://theplantwhisperer.blogspot.com.au/2012/03/vinegar-as-weed-killer-focus-of-this.html

http://www.instructables.com/id/Natural-and-CHEAP-Weed-Control/

http://www.beesource.com/forums/archive/index.php/t-232818.html

http://farmstyle.com.au/news/alternatives-chemical-weed-controlhttp://oregonstate.edu/dept/nursery-weeds/weedspeciespage/acetic_acid_factsheet.pdf

http://oregonstate.edu/dept/nursery-weeds/weedspeciespage/acetic_acid_factsheet.pdf

http://oregonstate.edu/dept/nursery-weeds/weedspeciespage/acetic_acid_factsheet.pdf

http://www.gwlap.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/Alternatives-to-chemical-weed-control_info-for-field-day.pdf

https://extension.umd.edu/sites/default/files/_docs/programs/ipmnet/Vinegar-AnAlternativeToGlyphosate-UMD-Smith-Fiola-and-Gill.pdf

Agnihotra


8Over 20 years ago, i learned agnihotra at a weekend workshop in Humpy near Mapleton.  And it was my practice for a period of time, sunrise and sunset. I bought my kit on the sunshine coast when Lee Ringma from Agnihotra Australia visited as part of a workshop tour.

from their website  …. “We also regularly organise Workshop Tours coming to your location to conduct free workshops.The geographical area we cover is Australia, New Zealand and Asia.The Workshops, Talks and Courses are conducted as voluntary work, as service and hence are free of charge. We accept sponsorship for the travel, food and accomodation costs.”

Buy your kit.

Agnihotra (Homa) consists of making two offerings to the fire exactly at the time of sunrise & sunset along with two small Sanskrit mantras. Agnihotra is regarded a process of purification of the atmosphere as a cumulative effect of various scientific and sonic principles harnessed to give rise to an unparalled purifying and healing phenomenon. The benefits, both spiritual and mundane, that accrue to sacrificers is said to be enormous.

How to perform Agnihotra in Summary

1. Smear few cow dung chips with ghee and arrange them in the Agnihotra pot.
2. Mix about a teaspoon full of rice with a small amount of ghee and keep them aside.
3. Start the fire few minutes before sunrise/sunset time.

While chanting the mantra offer the rice smeared with ghee (just enough that one can hold in the tip
of five fingers) at the utterance of ‘Swaaha’ ie ‘Sváhá’ in the fire.

There are only two offerings at Sunset or Sunrise each in the Agnihotra fire.

Mantra At Sunrise:  listen

Sooryáya Sváhá
(add the first portion of rice)
Sooryáya Idam Na Mama

Prajápataye Sváhá
(add the second portion of rice)
Prajápataye Idam Na Mama

Meaning:
Unto the fire I am offering all.
This offering is not mine, it is Thine.

Mandtra At Sunset:  listen

Agnaye Sváhá
(add the first portion of rice)
Agnaye Idam Na Mama
Prajápataye Sváhá
(add the second portion of rice)
Prajápataye Idam Na Mama

Meaning:
Unto the sun I am offering this offering.
This is not mine, this is Thine.

Word to Word Meanings:
Agnaye … fire
Sooryáya … sun

swáhá … offering
idam … this
na mama … not mine
prajá- … all the living
pataye … The Lord

Word to word meaning does not give the purport of the mantras.

 When the mantras are chanted in the meter in which they are composed, by Supreme Grace the inherent meaning and the power and vibrations impact the entire creation. The healing occurs at the grass roots level in the subtlest manner.
 This power of the mantra is locked into the ashes that develop in the fire upon the oblations.
These vibrations pulsate the entire universe in a profound, subtle but sure impact and affect.
 It is like the fragrance and beauty of a flower when the flower is in the form of a bud.
 By grace it radiates all its beauty and joy for the good of the entire universe.
…Guruji Shree Mohan Jadhav

AGnihotr1AGnihotra 2

AGnihotra

The Phenomena of Agnihotra Homa Practice

free ebook download    agni hotra: ancient sollution to modern pollution


How to Videos

videos by Bruce Johnson and wife Anne Godfrey really deserve mentioning here

and Rose Circles


Further Reading:

http://www.agnihotrausa.net/default.html

http://www.homagrown.com/

http://himalayahomahealing.blogspot.com.au/


References:

1-How-to-perform-Agnihotra

My Do’s and Don’ts


lushvegNone of these are required in nature:
soil preparation, fertilization, irrigation, weed control, pest control, crop rotation, ph balancing, bio-innoculation, compost tea-ing

With SlowFastSoil, the following are no longer necessary:

  • creating different beds for sun-loving and shade-loving food plants
  • tilling
  • digging
  • companion planting
  • composting
  • worm casting or juice

Most non-toxic food production methods, materials, infrastructure and tools for both the home/market garden and commercial cropper comprises a continual  adding ingredients into and atop the soil and doing things to the soil,  along with a constant wondering about the viability of soil.

Most non-toxic growers begin their food growing on soil which is not ideal. The ways that they set out to improve it and get things growing as soon as possible, are many and varied, as the following forum partiipants discuss.

http://forums.gardenweb.com/discussions/2027123/any-no-till-market-gardeners-out-there-help

What I Don’t Do Anymore: ie because slow fast soil makes it all so unnecessary

  • Lots of Swaling
  • Regular Watering
  • Mulching with Deep Straw
  • Raised Beds
  • Worrying over what to feed the garden.
  • Huge Compost Heaps
  • Worm Farms
  • Continual Compost Tea
  • Manure Water
  • Green Manuring Crop
  • Crop Rotation

What I Still Do:

Smaller Compost Heaps – to create a planting medium (as you cannot plant straight into the woody mulch mix).

Initial (not continual) Compost Tea-ing

Grow Hedgerows or Borders of suitable plants for :

  • crop and drop – for lay mulching
  • putting through shredder  – for lay mulching
  • compost heaps – to create a planting medium

Use Humanure when I am living in a place where I have built my own worry-free compost toilet.

what i am no longer impressed by:

  • AquaCulture

what i have never impressed by:


Top 12 Garden Trends for 2014

SOURCE: https://thegardendiaries.wordpress.com/2014/01/10/top-12-garden-trends-for-2014/

1. Grafted Vegetable Plants

2. Not Using GMO Seeds

3. Planting Raised, Stackable Beds, and Container Bags

4. Bee Gardening

5. Planting for Health Benefits/Foraging

6. Herbs-Medicinal and Culinary

7. Growing Exotic and Unusual Vegetables

8. Themed Seed Samplers

9. Growing Small/Rooftops

10. Growing “Super Foods“

11. Fermentation

12. Sprouts & Micro Greens


The Importance of traditional cultures and indigenous practices


The Melanesian Way Inc. Papua New Guinea (tmwpng)

culture12.jpg“We loved and enjoyed the dance but tired now and know nothing about what it means?”

We have heard comments that our cultures and traditions are old-fashioned; they hold back progress in nation building and that we should completely forget about them and adopt new ways of life. Some say they are ‘dirty’ and ‘primitive’. They are perceived as negative by the new generation. Adding on all these claims, a report by the Pacific Women Against Violence (Volume 1, Issue 10) stated that Pacific Islands cultures and unequal relationship between men and women contribute largely to violence against women in the region. But the report then challenges its own findings that domestic violence is an international problem that is thriving locally – not alone grown by Melanesian way of life.
Many of us do not agree with all these comments because some of us are living examples of what our cultures and…

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