On Sat, 25 Mar 2000 20:31:37 -0600, Douglas Hinds wrote:
>Their website: http://www.modernorganics.com/products/ (products page)
>makes some rather impressive if generalized claims but cites no
>research supporting those claims.
>While the more magic stuff in little, costly bottles approach doesn't
>jive with my idea of agriculture (a biological, organism based
>activity that involves the participation of a wide range of
>organisms), I want to maintain a neutral stance before arriving at a
>conclusion regarding the possible value of these products, and not
>enough info is provided by the companies websitge, to my way of
>thinking. (I've also emailed them).
>Anybody know anything about the company and/or their products, or care
>to take a look?
Site won't load, so it's a good thing my comments are fairly general,
Microbial products are almost always a bad deal for the farmer.
Depending on how cranky I feel at a given moment, I tend to refer to
them as foo-foo dust, preacher sweat, or squirrel piss.
Look, the deal is this. When conditions in the soil are good (food,
moisture, air, and warmth) microbes do just fine. When conditions are
off, they don't do well. Think of them as highly unionised workers,
with a nasty contract. If conditions aren't to their liking they either
'go slow,' or they walk off the job. Walking off the job for bacteria
means sporulating, and they'll hang around as spores for decades,
waiting for the return of proper conditions.
I have heard stories that the Russians actually plated out some 220
million year old spores of a known bacterium and got some colonies to
grow. Have never seen that confirmed, but it is theoretically possible.
These things are tough, especially when sporulated.
Your typical soil is going to have about 10 million microbes per gram,
or at least their spores. Heavy doses of these foo-foo dust products
may add about 100 microbes per gram, at a cost of up to $30/acre. If
there's a better definition of "stupid," I've yet to find it. That same
$30, spent on a green manure crop will help create conditions in which
the microbes can double their population every 20 minutes. If
conditions aren't right, you might just as well spray the stuff on the
truck, for all the good it will do you in the field.
So here we are, right back at the same tiring materials vs. management
theme again. I've just about given up wondering why people, especially
most growers, simply can never figure that one out.
I've seen products of this sort that are 98% water, selling for over
US$200 per gallon (3.8 litres). Alternative farmers, especially if they
read Acres USA, line up to buy this junk, and somehow continue to
believe the peddlar when he attributes lack of results to an
unspecified error by the farmer, instead of to a fundmental flaw with
the entire concept. Maybe they just didn't believe hard enough....
You wonder why alternative agriculture is the object of disrespect and
derision in many circles? Look no further than all this fraudulent
garbage that gets sold to gullible growers who actually believe the
peddlar's pitch that it will replace 400 lbs of 19-19-19 per acre.
These guys are long on anecdotes and short on real research. They claim
the universities have sold out and won't support their product. Yet not
long ago we had a report on this list about serious university research
in three states demonstrating the benefits of seaweed in beef
production. Some universities *do* test these products, and almost
always they show absolutely no difference compared to the control.
Those results don't fit well in promotional literature, but they're a
pretty good description of the situation in general.
I've had the chance to use some of these products for FREE, and didn't
because it wasn't worth the time or expense to apply them.
If anyone knows of a product of this type with a *proven* performance
record that actually can cover the cost of the product, I'd be happy to
hear about it. Until then I'll continue to regard the entire product
class as deceptive, fraudulent, exploitative garbage.
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