We should Elaine to comment on your questions. She is considered one of the
experts in the field.
When I worked in parts of Africa, Zimbabwe, we witnessed the attempts at
no-till farming that resulted in fermented soils because of the lack of
bacteria to break down the crop residue. They began to use some commercial
bacteria products or composted manures or compost teas. When they started
this process the incidence of pathogenic fungi were reduced and the
break-down of the crop stubble was increased dramatically.
When I talk with farmers over the age of 60 they are well aware of the need
for a diverse, healthy biological process in the soil, which they used to
provide through their own composed manures. They are acutely aware of the
higher incidence of disease in soils treated with fungicides, pesticides,
and other chemicals. They of course are telling anecdotal stories
umblemished by "advertising".
You might read some of the work by Jim Lynch or by Krasilnikov, from the
Michael J. Rankin
BioLIFE Technologies, Inc.
6780 Abrams Road, Suite 103-139
Dallas, Texas 75231
>Date: Tue, 10 Nov 1998 19:40:24 -0500 (EST)
>From: joel b gruver <email@example.com>
>Subject: soil inputs for optimizing soil microbial ecology
>Hello to all...
>Early in the sawdust discussion, someone posted some comments about
>plants having different preferences with regard to soil
>bacteria and fungi...and refered us to Dr. Elaine Inghams
>(Oregon State) home page.
>The basic idea was that certain crop species like Brassicas prefer
>bacteria dominated soils while others like strawberries prefer fungally
>dominated soils. In a recent article in "Worm Digest", I read that Ingham
>suggests that organic inputs (e.g. hot compost vs. cool compost, green
>manure vs. sawdust...) and tillage intensity can be used to
>specifically manipulate the microbial demographics of one's soil to match
>the preferences of an incipient crop.
>I am wondering about the anecdotal and scientific basis for this type of
>strategy for soil management... We know that some crop species are
>mycorrhizal hosts while others are not... there is certainly
>evidence that crop rotation into a non-host crop like canola
>will tend to reduce levels of mycorrhizal innoculum... but will canola
>perform best if the soil has been managed prior to planting for bacterial
>dominance. List member Steve Groff grows beautiful no-till brocolli... I
>would certainly guess that his no-till soils covered with rolled cover
>crop residue are fungally dominated.
>Does anyone care to postulate any mechanisms by which one microbial
>demography would be prefered by a crop species over another ? Obviously
>microbial pathogens and specific symbionts have dramatic effects on crop
>performance but is there really evidence to support other generalizations
>? The use of salt fertilizers, lime, cover crops, manure, compost or
>tillage... to promote crop growth will certainly also impact soil
>microbial ecology but should we tailoring our soil management to
>specifically manipulate microbial ecology...
>"Feed the soil not the crop" is a commonly stated organic tenet... are we
>now starting to understand a more intricate ecological basis
>for this concept or is Inghams work getting misinterpreted...
>Looking forward to hearing your thoughts...
>Soil Quality Research
>U of Maryland
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