Chemicals were primary tools for the past 75 years, and have left farmers trapped in a cycle of using expensive chemical fertilizers and pesticides. The future success of cultivation practices will depend on biological solutions, as opposed to agrichemical solutions, for sustainable improvements in plant quality, soil health and land productivity for decades to come.
While there is no doubt that our crops require specific elements to thrive and produce, soil biology is the key to the cycling of these nutrients. New insights and understanding of the soil microbe biome allow growers to harness natural ecosystems — improving agricultural productivity and plant health.
To summarize, in the 1800’s humanity began to understand the process whereby nature kept plants healthy and fed. This earliest understanding assumed that all that mattered was three elements, Nitrogen (N), Phosphorus (P), and potassium (K).
In the early 1900’s, other elements were added, including calcium (Ca), sulfur (S), magnesium (Mg), iron (Fe), boron (B), chlorine (Cl), manganese (Mn), zinc (Zn), copper (Cu), molybdenum (Mo) and nickel (Ni).
Using Justus von Liebig’s Law of Minimum, farmers understood that each of these was necessary for the health of plants. That said, in the past 75 years, most farmers have forgotten that most soil has sufficient amounts for the small amount of these elements for nutrient cycling with the help of the soil microbe biome.
After WWII, mass manufacturing of chemical fertilizers became available. As their usage increased, the soil microbe biome began to fall out of balance. Soon, there was demand for pesticides to kill the pathogens that were no longer kept in check by the beneficial components of the soil microbe biome. Unfortunately, pesticides killed many beneficials while fertilizers starved others, pushing the complex web of life even further out of balance.
Humans have been farming for thousands of years, but significant reduction in biodiversity in the soil microbe biome has only occurred in the past 75 years. Coincidentally, this is the same period when agrichemicals became the dominant tool for farmers.
Consumer demand for organics, combined with farmers rethinking the cost of conventional agrichemicals are creating the biological farming movement, of which SymSoil is a leading participant.
If a stool has ten thousand legs, and each year, a few hundred disappear, how long until the stool falls over?
This is the seventh article in the series, which begins with 21st Century Farmer’s Guide to Sustainable Farming, An Overview which can be found here. We encourage you to follow us for all the updates.
More on the 21st Century Grower’s Guide to Sustainable Farming
SymSoil Inc. is an evidence-based, soil health company with products and services for regenerative agriculture. Our flagship products are Robust Compost, Fungal Infused Biochar and Grow Cubes for the cannabis and hemp cultivators. Our science team has 35 years of experience developing solutions to growers’ problems based upon a deep understanding of the complete soil microbe biome. A core belief is regional soil microbes can be restored to regenerate the soil, which will significantly increase plant health, crop yields, flavor profile and nutrient density, as the plants access nutrients the way nature intended.