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Spring is Just Around the Corner – Fresh Pack Seeds Now Available!

Start seeds indoors now for big, beautiful Spring plants.

We have a small but specially-selected variety of seeds, chosen mostly for their beneficial uses, like herbal medicines, foods, seeds, pollinator attractants, and such.
These seeds are harvested from our own plants, which have been grown in our own vermicasts & organic amendments.
We get excellent germination rates, and healthy plants, and you should expect the same of these seeds.
We are also always happy to help by answering questions, supplying advice, or whatever we can do to ensure a beautiful, happy, healthy and productive garden.

Boutique Seeds n Such:
Heard the saying “You are what you eat”? That goes across the entire food chain. Better soils create better plants & flowers, which create better seeds.
Our seeds are harvested from our own plants which were grown in our own top-quality organic soils, which have been fed with our own top-quality feeds.
We typically see 90% – 100% germination rates. Check back as we’re adding varieties frequently.

Purple Cherokee Tomato  – Purple Cherokee is a tomato that develops a fruit with a deep, dusky-rose color while maintaining a somewhat greenish hue near the stem when mature for eating.
Purple Cherokee tomatoes are beefsteak in style. They are also notable for having a dense, juicy texture. The comparatively dark interior color is enhanced by the tendency of the seeds to be surrounded by green gel.
This tomato is best enjoyed fresh and is often used in BLT sandwiches and salads. It can also be used when making pizza and pasta.
purple cherokee2 purple cherokee front single purple cherokee back single

Black Cherry Tomato (Heirloom)  – Once you try the Black Cherry Tomato, you won’t be able to stop!
This black tomato variety is really the only true black cherry tomato cultivator.
This tomato plant will produce huge yields in clusters of 1 inch, round, deep purple, almost black tomatoes.
The Black Cherry is an irresistibly delicious treat with sweet, rich, complex and full tomato flavors.
black cherry1 black cherry front single black cherry back single

Sweet Orange Cherry Tomato – The Sweet Orange Cherry Tomato is one of the sweetest cherry tomatoes available.
This Sweet Orange Cherry Tomato plant will produce huge yields in clusters of 1 inch, round, bright orange tomatoes.
The Sweet Orange Cherry is an irresistibly delicious treat with sweet, rich, complex and full tomato flavors.
orange cherry1  sweet orange cherry  sweet orange cherry back

Sweet Red Grape Tomato – The Sweet Red Grape Tomato is tiny but packs a huge burst of sweetness.
This Sweet Red Grape Tomato plant will produce large yields in clusters of 1/2-1 inch, oval, bright red, tomatoes.
The Sweet Red Grape is an irresistibly delicious treat with sweet, rich, complex and full tomato flavors.
grape tomato vine2  sweet grape front sweet grape back

Mild Yellow Pear Tomato – This Mildly Sweet Yellow Pear Tomato plant will produce huge yields in clusters of 1-1/2 inch, pear-shaped, bright yellow tomatoes.
The Mildly Sweet Yellow Pear is an irresistibly delicious treat with mildly sweet, rich, complex and full tomato flavors.
yellow pear3  yellow pear front yellow pear back

Flowering Tobacco (Nicotiana Alata) – Beautiful trumpet-shaped flowers in various colors. One of the most fragrant & sweetest-smelling flowers we’ve grown.
Over 2,500 seeds per pack.
A favorite of pollinators (numerous studies show that not only is the floral nicotine not harmful to pollinators, but that it is even beneficial, enabling quicker learning and perhaps protecting against parasitic pests).
flowering tobacco  tobacco seed pkt front  tobacco seed pkt back

Morning Glory – Vining w/flowers of various colors.
Favored by Bees (mostly Bumble Bees).
Mixed-Morning-Glory  morning glory seed pkt front  morning glory seed pkt back

Sweet William (Pink – Dianthus barbatus) – a herbaceous biennial or short-lived perennial plant growing to 13–92 cm tall, with flowers in a dense cluster of up to 30 at the top of the stems. Each flower is 2–3 cm diameter with five petals displaying serrated edges.
Sweet William (Red – Dianthus barbatus) – a herbaceous biennial or short-lived perennial plant growing to 13–92 cm tall, with flowers in a dense cluster of up to 30 at the top of the stems. Each flower is 2–3 cm diameter with five petals displaying serrated edges.
sweet william cluster pink sweet william front red sweet william front red sweet william back

Yellow Mustard (Brassica Juncea) – Aka Brown Mustard, Indian Mustard.
Annual with small yellow flowers.
The leaves, seeds, and stems of this mustard variety are edible.
The mustard condiment made from the seeds of the B. juncea is called brown mustard and is considered to be spicier than yellow mustard.
mustard flower yellow mustard front yellow mustard back

Golden Flax (aka Linseed) – Flax is cultivated as a food and fiber crop in cooler regions of the world.
Flax is also grown as an ornamental plant in gardens, with often blue to purple flowers.
Flax seed can be used whole, ground down to a powder or sprouted.  Flax sprouts are known for their spicy taste.
A 100-gram portion of ground Flax seed supplies about 534 calories (2,230 kJ), 41 g of fat, 28 g of fiber, and 20 g of protein.
flax field  flax seed front  flax seed back

Purple Hyacinth Bean (aka Jefferson Bean)– Vining with purple flowers. Flowers and beans are edible. Used as a substitute for Soy in making tofu for those with soy allergies.
purple hyacinth front single purple hyacinth back single

Breadseed Poppy (aka Florists Poppy, Papaver Somniferum) – Annual with mostly papery purple flowers. Pods can be used in cut or dried floral arrangements.
Seeds are edible, and often used in baking, in salads, sprinkled into cereal or oatmeal, and other culinary uses.
P-28-2 Papaver somniferum  breadseed poppy seed pkt front  breadseed poppy seed pkt back

Corn Poppy (aka Flanders Poppy, Papaver Rhoeas) – Annual with mostly papery red flowers. Pods can be used in cut or dried floral arrangements.
Seeds are edible, and often used in baking, in salads, sprinkled into cereal or oatmeal, and other culinary uses.
papaver rhoeas single corn poppy seed pkt front corn poppy seed pkt back

Daisy – A classic flower.
Shasta Daisy  daisy seed pkt front  daisy seed pkt back

Milkweed (aka Silkweed, Monarch Butterfly Plant) – Necessary as food for Monarch butterflies. Researchers have identified the reduction in Milkweed plants as the main cause in the ongoing vast loss of Monarch butterflies. Perennial.
Young leaves can be cooked (steamed) and eaten.
monarch-butterfly_milkweed-plant  milkweed seed pkt front  milkweed seed pkt back

Burdock (aka Little Burdock, Wild Rhubarb) – Flowing biennial in the daisy family with prickly flowers that are pink to lavender in color. Flower heads are about 2 cm (0.79 in) wide. blooming from mid to late summer.
You may wonder why anyone would willingly plant this “weedy” plant.
The leafstalks (a year old or younger) and flower stalks can be eaten raw or cooked.
The seeds can be eaten, raw or roasted, or used as bird seed.
The roots are edible boiled with a change of water, and can be pickled or added to stir-fry.
Burdock & Dandelion is a beverage consumed in the British Isles since the Middle Ages, and possesses numerous medicinal qualities.
Bees and other beneficial pollinators love these flowers.
burdock close  burdock front single burdock back single

Purple Coneflower (aka Echinacea) – Herbaceous flowing perennial in the daisy family with large, showy heads of composite flowers blooming from early to late summer.
Frequently used in folk medicine to boost immunity.
coneflower single  purple coneflower pkt front  purple coneflower pkt back

Cutleaf Coneflower – “Golden Glow”  – Herbaceous flowing annual to perennial in the sunflower family with large, showy  heads of composite flowers blooming from early to late summer.
The “Golden Glow” variety has yellow flowers and a pronounced yellow to greenish cone.
The young leaves can be gathered and eaten in the early spring. They are greatly favored as a potherb (cooked). Some references state the use of this plant as salad greens (raw).
golden glow 2  cutleaf cone front single cutleaf cone back single

Black-Eyed Susan – “Moreno”  – Herbaceous flowing annual to perennial in the sunflower family with large, showy  heads of composite flowers blooming from early to late summer.
The “Moreno” variety has mahogany-red fading to orange-tipped ray flowers and a pronounced dark purple to black cone.
Roots have been used in folk medicine to boost immunity.
rudbeckia moreno cluster  rudbeckia hirta moreno single front rudbeckia hirta single back

Black-Eyed Susan – “Indian Summer”  – Herbaceous flowing annual to perennial in the sunflower family with large, showy  heads of composite flowers blooming from early to late summer.
The “Indian Summer” variety has yellow flowers and a pronounced dark purple to black cone.
Roots have been used in folk medicine to boost immunity.
IMG_20200907_184436  rudbeckia hirta single front rudbeckia hirta single back

New England Aster (aka Michaelmas Daisy) – Herbaceous flowering perennial. abundant flower heads are showy with yellow disc florets at the center and ray florets that range from a deep purple or rose pink to rarely white. A favorite of pollinators.
Aster Novae Angliae  Aster Novae Angliae2
ne aster pkt front  ne aster pkt back

Cornflower (aka Bachelor’s Button) – An annual plant growing to 40–90 cm tall, with grey-green branched stems.
The flowers typically range in color from blue, pink, lavender, and white, produced in flowerheads 1.5–3 cm diameter, with a ring of a few large, spreading ray florets surrounding a central cluster of disc florets.
The edible flower of the cornflower can be used for culinary decoration, for example to add color to salads.
Cornflowers have been used historically for their colorful pigment.
Cornflowers are often used as an ingredient in some tea blends and herbal teas.
cornflower  cornflower pkt front  purple coneflower pkt back

Cosmos – Herbaceous perennial or annual plants growing 0.3–2 m (1 ft 0 in–6 ft 7 in) tall.
The leaves are simple, pinnate, or bipinnate, and arranged in opposite pairs. The flowers are produced in a capitulum with a ring of broad ray florets and a center of disc florets; flower color is variable but frequently pink, scarlet, white, and red.
Smaller birds love to sit on Cosmos stems and eat the seeds in Fall.
cosmos4  cosmos pkt front  cosmos pkt back

Pricing:
$2.50/packet.

More to come…….


NatureSoil Products™ – Born of Nature. Back to Nature.

Human Health Begins With Soil Health

You are what you eat.
Garbage in equals garbage out.
“Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food”

Globally it has been estimated that some 50%-70% of pharmaceuticals are synthesized, or based on natural allelochamicals.

Aspirin, for example, acetylsalicylic acid is based on Salicylic Acid, which comes from Salicin in the bark of the Salix genus of trees (and other plants).

Allelopathy is a biological phenomenon by which an organism produces one or more biochemicals that influence the germination, growth, survival, and reproduction of other organisms. These biochemicals are known as allelochemicals and can have beneficial (positive allelopathy) or detrimental (negative allelopathy) effects on the target organisms and the community. Allelochemicals are a subset of secondary metabolites, which are not required for metabolism (i.e. growth, development and reproduction) of the allelopathic organism. Allelochemicals with negative allelopathic effects are an important part of plant defense against herbivory.

When people talk about herbal medicine, whether they know it or not, they’re talking about the allelochemicals that are in those herbs.

But it has been my personal experience that synthetic pharmaceuticals don’t offer as many advantages as their wholesome natural counterparts.

Most all natural antibiotics known to humans are created by microbes, typically soil microbes.
They are a type of germ warfare, created by microbes to fight off other microbes.
Plants use these to ward off disease and infection just as animals and humans do.

And, given their natural development, they mutate/evolve in response to mutations/evolutions of those microbes.
Thus they avoid the same consequences of encountering antibiotic resistance as do synthetic pharmaceuticals, which aren’t created in a natural state, thus don’t naturally evolve.

The production of allelochemicals are also affected by biotic factors such as nutrients available, and abiotic factors such as temperature and pH.

But they are often labeled as mere quackery by the medical and pharmaceutical industries.

You generally can’t patent natural products.
And patents offer protection from competition, thus create greater profit.
If more people began using more affordably-priced natural alternatives, even growing their own (I grow a nice-sized traditional herbal medicinal garden) the pharmaceutical industry would lose much profit.

And this is exactly why we do what we do.
We create the highest-quality soils, utilizing those natural beneficial microbiotic processes.

Way More Than Just Soil.

Vermicast (worm manure) is natural topsoil.
But it’s way beyond just mere soil.

Have you ever stopped to consider what makes some soils different than others?

Have you ever stopped to consider where many vitamins comes from?
What about natural antibiotics?
Or flavonoids, which create “taste” and “flavor”?
Or enzymes, which are necessary catalysts for cell production?

The answer to all the above is, soil microorganisms.
Bacteria and fungi.

Plus, bacteria and fungi make up a large part of the diets of earthworms.
Thus vermicast is generally fuller and richer in vitamins, natural antibiotics, flavonoids, and enzymes.

All the things that make food great.

Many vitamins are either created, or bioactivated by processes involving interactions of bacteria and fungi, often in conjunction with enzymes.

Even where it was once thought that Vitamin D was created by the skin from sunlight,  more recent studies and research is showing it is actually the microbiome on & in the skin that is synthesizing that vitamin D (it’s been shown that for every human skin cell, there are some 9 microorganisms present).

Most all natural antibiotics known to humans are created by soil microorganisms, often in conjunction with enzymes.
Those natural antibiotics are defense mechanisms, a form of chemical warfare as groups of microorganisms battle other groups of microorganisms.
Plus, whereas antibiotic resistance among bacteria from lab-created antibiotics has become a major concern, natural antibiotics undergo rapid evolutions, mutations in response to evolving & mutating bacteria, as they develop a resistance to former antibiotics.

Nature responds to natural changes.
But humans can’t keep up in the lab.

Flavonoid production too has been shown to originate via the aid of bacteria and fungi.
In particular, E. coli has been studied, and used, extensively for it’s ability to synthesize flavonoids.
Plant flavonoids continue to find increasing use in pharmaceutical and nutraceutical applications.

Flavonoids are a type of polyphenol, often known as “bitters” and/or “aeromatic compounds”.
These bitters/aeromatic compounds have been used extensively throughout history in herbal & natural medicines (consider the use of Quinine against Malaria, or Eucalyptus against bronchial and sinus problems).

Enzymes too are created by microorganisms.
Enzymes are proteins that exist within cell walls.
Almost all metabolic processes in the cell need enzyme catalysis in order to occur at rates fast enough to sustain life.

It has often been said that the ancient “Father of Medicine, Hippocrates, said:
“Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.”

Though this has also been frequently cited as being misattributed to Hippocrates, in line with Hippocrates’ philosophy, there is a complementarity of nutrition and pharmacology.

Some prefer to phrase it as “You are what you eat”.

Better building blocks equals better structures.

Foods that are richer in vitamins, natural antibiotics, flavonoids, and enzymes are much healthier than those lacking, or without.

Going back to that adage, “You are what you eat”, that goes across the entire food chain.
Better & healthier microorganisms create better soils.
Better soils create better & healthier plants.
Better & healthier plants create better & healthier bodies.

Everything is interconnected.

That is the main philosophy behind NatureSoil Products, and the high-grade products we create.

Sewage Sludge – Illegal to Dump in Oceans, Unwanted in Landfills….So Why is it Being Dumped Into Composts/Soils and Onto Farmlands?

Sewage sludge is quickly becoming one of the main inputs used in soils & composts, even those used on farmlands & gardens.

Sewage sludge, aka Biosolids, is a product of wastewater treatment.

These separated processed solids – sewage sludge – contain numerous known and unknown hazardous materials. This includes everything that is flushed into the sewer system, including: household, medical, chemical, and industrial waste; chemicals and metals that leach from the sewer pipes themselves; and novel materials that are created in the wastewater treatment plant as a result of the combination of chemicals and organic compounds present.

That’s right – these Biosolids, often full of toxic compounds, nanomaterials, hormones, and dangerous pathogens, are applied to the very food we eat. While certain sanitation processes do decrease some health risks, chemicals such as PCBs, flame retardants, heavy metals, and endocrine disrupters – many of which are carcinogens – are not filtered out. Instead, they accumulate in the soil and are taken up by crops, putting human health at risk.

Worse, companies don’t have to disclose when sewage sludge is used in their compost and soil products.

Still worse, these companies can, and often do market those products as “organic”.

Why?
1.  Soils and composts are excluded from the USDA’s strict regulations on the use of the term “organic”.
2.  These companies use the chemical definition of the term “organic” – simply meaning containing carbon.

The corporatization of agriculture means that fewer and fewer people (acting through corporations) are controlling more and more of our food production. One of the symptoms of this corporate takeover is the land application of sewage sludge on croplands.

The EPA and big Agri-Corporations claims it is safe because toxic pollutants are limited, yet, three pollutant limits are still above safe landfill boundary levels.
Not only that, but EPA only directly addresses 8 out of 126 priority toxic pollutants in Class A “Exceptional Quality” sludge fertilizer, which have all been identified to cause death, disease, cancer, etc., either by direct exposure or indirect exposure through the food chain.

Safe?

The EPA is now actively & aggressively pushing the Biodigester industry.
Here in Vermont, with the enactment of the new Universal Recycling Act (Act 148), grants are being used to support this industry.

Vermont’s Universal Recycling Act (Act 148) even states that it seeks to promote the use of sewage sludge as a beneficial amendment, stating:
(2) its value as a soil amendment (p. 12).
And:
(8) actions which can be taken through existing state programs to
facilitate beneficial use of septage and sludge (p. 13).

One of the biggest problems to arise from this ill-conceived legislation will be the convoluted nature of the true contents of composts and soils.
• Most sewage sludge is now sent to specialty third-party processors, to be included & used in Biodegesters.
• These third-party processors will mix together any number of wastes, including vegetative, animal manures, and sewage sludge.
• The resultant end-product, anaerobically digested wastes, which becomes unrecognizable, is then sent to soil & compost facilities and companies, whom then mix that product with other products, like ground forest products, and bag them.

Thus many compost companies and facilities don’t even know what all is in the input materials they receive from these third-party processors.

Their products are also then mostly sent to & sold by retailers, whom remain completely ignorant of the true contents of those soils & composts.

Out of sight, out of mind?
Ignorance is bliss?
Plausible deniability?

For further reading:

Sewage Sludge


https://www.ejnet.org/sludge/nsa/nsa105.html

Typical nutrient concentrations in NatureSoil Products Mineral Powder™ and FutureSoil™ Soil Conditioner.

Typical nutrient concentrations in NatureSoil Products Mineral Powder and FutureSoil™ Soil Conditioner.

Table 1 Typical nutrient concentrations in NatureSoil Products Mineral Powder and FutureSoil™ Soil Conditioner (dry weight basis).

typical nutrient content NSP Mineral Powder

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Three years of application caused no decrease in the soil pH compared to unamended soils.

 

Beware of So-Called “Organic” Composts, Soils or Amendments.

Biosolids, Sewage Sludge, Soils, Composts and Soil Amendments:

Not all composts and soil amendments are equal, and not all composts and soil amendments labeled as “organic” are permitted for use on organic farms and gardens.

Many soils and composts are labeled as “organic”, but do not meet the USDA’s National Organic Program (NOP) rules for organic gardening, farming, or growing.

The term “organic” has two very different legal definitions, thus making it convoluted:

1) “Organic” in agricultural terms (relating to food production, not compost) means produce and food products conform to strict  USDA/NOP organic rules & regulations, meaning growers can’t use certain products, like sewage sludge, fertilizers or synthetic substances, to grow their produce.

2) “Organic” in chemical terms simply means something that contains carbon.  Much of the compost industry uses this chemical definition, since they don’t have to comply with USDA/NOP standards, and to fool consumers.  Since human excrement (sewage sludge) does contain carbon, the compost industry can legally call it “organic”, though it can’t be used to grow USDA/NOP certified organic produce.

In regards to organically grown and designated produce and food products, the USDA operates the National Organics Program (NOP).  The USDA regulates what can and can’t be used in organic growing.  Food and produce cannot be labeled as “organic” unless in conforms to USDA/NOP regulations.

Sewage sludge (“biosolids”) is not a USDA/NOP approved amendment for organic food and produce production, it is strictly prohibited for organic growers.  It is however widely used in non-organic food and produce production.

The USDA does not regulate the compost industry, only the food (ag) industry.  Compost can therefore legally be labeled “organic” despite containing sewage sludge.  Compost can also contain non-organic fertilizers and still be labeled as “organic”.  However, compost labeled “organic” that contains sewage sludge (or prohibited fertilizers), cannot be used to grow USDA/NOP certified organic food and produce.  The “organic” label is just a slick marketing tactic used by  much of the compost industry to trick consumers into thinking they’re conforming to organic practices & guidelines, when in fact they’re not.  Out of sight, out of mind is their method.

The commercial compost and soil (top soil, potting soil, etc.) industry has become a dumping ground for the wastewater treatment industry, in their desperation to dispose of sewage sludge.

Consider all the nasty stuff that passes through the human body, including pharmaceuticals, chemicals, pathogens, heavy metals; and the stuff that is flushed down toilets, sinks, drains, etc., like makeup, household cleaning chemicals, motor oils, antifreeze, solvents, industrial wastes, etc.
This is all ending up in wastewater treatment plants, filtered out of the water as a sludge, treated, then distributed to soil and compost makers.

In the past, communities around the world used the ocean for waste disposal, including the disposal of sewage sludge. Little attention was given to the negative impacts of waste disposal on the marine environment.

Following decades of uncontrolled dumping, some areas of the ocean became demonstrably contaminated with high concentrations of harmful pollutants including heavy metals, inorganic nutrients, and chlorinated petrochemicals. The uncontrolled ocean dumping caused severe depletion of oxygen levels in some ocean waters.

A 1970 Report to the President from the Council on Environmental Quality on ocean dumping described that in 1968, 4.5 million tons of sewage sludge (significantly contaminated with heavy metals) were dumped in the ocean in the United States.

Currently, it is estimated that households in the U.S. generate 110-150 MILLION metric tons of wet sewage sludge every year.

In October 1972, Congress enacted the Marine Protection, Research and Sanctuaries Act (MPRSA), sometimes referred to as the Ocean Dumping Act, declaring that it is the policy of the United States to regulate the dumping of all materials which would adversely affect human health, welfare or amenities, or the marine environment, ecological systems or economic potentialities.

The MPRSA and EPA’s ocean dumping regulations prohibit ocean dumping of certain materials, including sewage sludge.

All that sewage sludge has to be disposed of somewhere.  Municipal wastewater treatments plants, finding it too expensive to dispose of this sewage sludge in landfills, began lobbying state Legislatures to allow the inclusion of this sludge in soils and composts.

Yet now, after decades of application, several studies have shown that soils receiving human manures were enriched in antibiotic-resistant bacteria and various antibiotic resistance determinants.

One such study concluded that “The increasing prevalence of antibiotic-resistant bacteria is one of the most serious threats to public health in the 21st century.
One route by which resistance genes enter the food system is through amendment of soils with manure from antibiotic-treated animals [including humans], which are considered a reservoir of such genes”.
NatureSoil Products contain absolutely no human excrement, sewage sludges, “Biosolids, or other possibly harmful ingredients.
NatureSoil Products are 100% veganic-derived soils and amendments.

Natural Sustainability

Soil Erosion

 

NatureSoil Products help prevent soil erosion by returning valuable, nutrient-rich topsoil back to the earth.  What’s more, unlike N-P-K based fertilizers which replenish only a few
macronutrients to the soil, NatureSoil Products return Macronutrients; Micronutrients; Necessary minerals like calcium, iron, magnesium, selenium, and many others; Enzymes; Natural plant growth hormones; And beneficial microorganisms (biota).  NatureSoil Products deliver greater bioavailability of all nutrients compared to fertilizers and composts.

 


 

Landfills

 

NatureSoil Products divert natural recyclables away from landfills and back to the earth.

 


 

 

Soil erosion occurs when soil is removed at a greater rate than it is formed.  Naturally, the earth’s surface involves a balanced process whereby new soil forms at
about the same rate as it erodes.  Naturally, as a tree or leaves fall, or as plants die, natural organisms eat that dead vegetation decomposing it back into natural
topsoil.  Human activity has been the main cause of erosion dating back to the first millenium.  Human activity causes 10 times more soil erosion than all natural
processes combined.  Agriculture, construction, and landfill waste are the main sources of human caused erosion.   In the U.S., soil erosion occurs at 10 times the
rate at which topsoil is naturally replaced.  With human activity, trees are cut down and processed into paper, cardboard, etc. and often disposed of into landfills.  
Even when recycled into other paper products, that wood pulp is not returned to the ground as topsoil.  As lawns are mowed and fallen leaves are raked, they are
most often bagged and disposed of as garbage, ending up in landfills.  Again, that vegetation is not allowed to naturally decompose back into topsoil.    

 


 

Matter cannot be created from nothing, and all new matter is made from existing matter.  Trees, leaves, plants, flowers, grass, etc. originate and develop from
existing matter extracted from the earth’s soil, water, and atmospheric gasses like carbon dioxide.  Every ounce of new vegetative matter that grows consumes an
equal amount of pre-existing matter, much of that coming from soil.  Human activities such as farming, lawn mowing, shrub pruning, weeding, etc., when those
vegetative matters are removed from their source, all cause soil erosion.  The United States throws away up to 40% of all it’s food produced, with the majority of that
food going to landfills, displacing that vegetative matter, and causing erosion.    

 

 


Landfills rely on an extremely slow, anaerobic decomposition process that produces greenhouse gasses like methane and carbon dioxide.  Landfills cause both air pollution and water pollution.  Studies have shown that people living close to landfills suffer from lung and heart diseases from the toxic gasses that are released from the landfill degradation.  Seemingly harmless materials, such as yard waste, paper products, food waste, etc., when combined with the other materials disposed of in landfills (metals, batteries, pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, plastics, etc.) combine to create a toxic leachate.  Groundwater contamination may result from leakage of very small amounts of leachate. TCE is a carcinogen typically found in landfill leachate. It would take less than 4 drops of TCE mixed with the water in an average swimming pool (20,000 gallons) to render the water undrinkable. Some surveys conducted have shown that 82% of the landfills have leaks and up to 41% of the landfills had a leak area of more than one square foot. EPA sponsored research shows that burying household garbage in the ground poisoned the ground water. The EPA has stressed that, even with the double liner landfills, the probability of leaking is very high.  According to EPA estimates a 100-acre landfill in the northeastern United States can produce 57 million gallons of leachate every year. The largest landfill in the world – Fresh Kills, in Staten Island, NY – is over 2965 acres, and produces 4 million gallons of leachate per day, or 1.5 billons gallons per year.

The Negative Consequences of Sewage Sludge in Inferior Quality Soils

No Sewage Sludge is Ever Used in NatureSoil Products

 

 

 

What Is Sludge?

 

Sludge, aka sewage sludge, is the residual semi-solid material that is a by-product of industrial and sewage wastewater treatment processes. In other words, it is the
biosolids that are left over from human waste that is removed from sewage water. Sewage sludge is known to contain not only large concentrations of toxic heavy
metal, but also dangerous disease bearing pathogens like E. coli, Salmonella, norovirus, and a host of other contaminants.  Sludge is also known to contain
measurable levels of environmentally persistant chemicals such as polychlorinated biphenyls, dioxins, asbestos, PCBs, and hundreds of other toxins. Residual
pharmaceuticals and human hormones are among the other dangers of contaminants contained within sludge.

 

 

Prior to 1992 this human sewage sludge was commonly disposed of by dumping it into oceans.  After 1992 the U.S. banned this practice, leaving cities and
municipalities to begin disposing of it in landfills.  Given the relative difficulty cities and municipalities have faced in disposing of this growing waste problem,
several companies embraced and began marketing it as a “nutrient rich” fertilizer.  Biosolids were presented as a no to low cost alternative for farmers.  This
process of spinning and rebranding sludge into beneficial fertilizer is well documented by authors John Stauber and Sheldon Rampton in their book,
Toxic Sludge is
Good for You
.

 

 

Research clearly shows that, under some conditions, toxic metals and organic industrial poisons can be transferred from sludge-treated soils into crops. Lettuce,
spinach, cabbage, Swiss chard, and carrots have all been shown to accumulate toxic metals and/or toxic chlorinated hydrocarbons when grown on soils treated with
sewage sludge. In some instances, toxic organics contaminate the leafy parts of plants by simply volatilizing out of the sludge.  Small mammals have been shown to
accumulate heavy metals after sewage sludge was applied to forest lands.

 

 

Sewage sludge is mutagenic (it causes inheritable genetic changes in organisms), but no one seems sure what this means for human or animal health.  Researchers,
including hydrologists for the U.S. Geological Survey, tested an eastern Colorado wheat field that used treated sludge from a Denver sewage treatment plant.
Chemicals in antibacterial soaps, cleaners, cosmetics, fragrances and prescription drugs such as Prozac and Warfarin not only persisted in the topsoil, but migrated
downwards.

 

 

Though worms have been shown to effectively consume and digest this human sludge, and though worms have been proven to reduce the total levels of
contaminants after digestion, we feel there is no solid evidence that worm fed composted sludge material is any safer, or fit as a fertilizer.  Beware!  Many
inexpensive or value-priced brands of vermicast & vermicompost products are produced using sewage sludge.

 

 

 


 

The NatureSoil Advantage

NatureSoil Productsare derived from 100% natural vegetative matter, and contain no sludge, or added chemical or synthetic components.

NatureSoil ProductsBorn of Nature.  Back to Nature.

The Numerous Benefits of Castings in Soil and Plant Health and Growth

The Numerous Benefits of Castings (Vermicast)

As vegetative matter takes up minerals and nutrients from the soil, water and air, those nutrients are stored.  During the decomposition process those nutrients are released back in the same natural balance as was required for vigorous, healthy growth.  Without restoring these nutrients back to the ground, the soil becomes depleted.  With ordinary soils, fertilizers, and composts, plants and vegetative matter must wait for the nutrients to break down further, and then seek out these nutrients.  But with vermicast they have already been broken down to more bioavailable forms, and are readily available when needed.  Furthermore, in vermicast there is no excess of nitrates and phosphates, which are water soluble and which, when applied in much higher concentrations in manufactured fertilizers, dissolve in run off to pollute our land and waterways.

Beside the greater bioavailability of nutrients, another tremendous value of vermicast lies in the plant growth stimulants, the cationic exchange rate (aka cationic exchange capacity, CEC) and the soil benevolent biota (beneficial microorganisms).  
Biota:
The biota introduced to the soil in vermicast works away out of sight, releasing the minerals already there and trapping free nitrogen from the atmosphere.
Cationic Exchange Rate or Capacity:
An important and often unrecognized feature of vermicast is its cationic exchange rate. This is the rate at which the cationic soil trace elements can attach themselves to vermicast. Everything in nature has an electrical charge. Some charges are positive, cations, and some are negative, anions. Organic vegetative matter is anionic and, because vermicast is highly vegetative matter, it is strongly anionic. Most trace elements are cationic.  In simple terms this means that trace elements are attracted to vermicast and readily bond to it in the same way that opposite poles of a magnet attract each other. Plants have a stronger pull than the vermicast and can therefore draw the trace elements away from the vermicast and into their roots.

Conclusions From Studies and Research on Castings (Vermicast)

Earthworms increase the amount of mineralized nitrogen from organic matter in soil. The microbial composition changes qualitatively and quantitatively during passage through the earthworm intestine (Pedersen and Hendriksen, 1993).
Earthworms not only disperse microorganisms important in food production but also associated with mycorrhizae and other root symbionts, biocontrol agents and microbial antagonists of plant pathogens as well as microorganisms that act as pests (Edwards and Bohlen, 1996).
Several researchers have demonstrated the ability of earthworms to promote the dispersal of beneficial soil microorganisms through castings, including pseudomonads, rhizobia and mycorrhizal fungi (Edwards and Bohlen, 1996; Buckalew et al., 1982; Doube et al., 1994a; Doube et al., 1994b;Madsen and Alexander, 1982; Reddell and Spain, 1991; Rouelle, 1983; Stephens et al., 1994).
During vermicomposting process when organic matter passes through the worms gut, it undergoes physico-chemical and biochemical changes by the combined effect of earthworm and microbial activities.  Vermicasts are coated with mucopolysaccharides and enriched with nutrients. The cellulolytic, nitrifying and nitrogen fixing microbes are found established in the worm cast (Kale et al., 1988).  
Vermicasts are excellent media for harbouring N-fixing bacteria (Bhole, 1992).  
Earthworms directly cycle the nitrogen by excretion in the casts, urine and mucoprotein and through the turnover of earthworm tissues (Lee, 1985).  
Earthworms have multiple, interactive effects on rates and patterns of nitrogen mineralization and immobilization in natural and managed ecosystems (Edwards and Lofty, 1977; Lee, 1983; Lavelle and Martin, 1992; Blair et al., 1995b).

Earthworm casts are enriched in terms of available nutrients and microbial numbers and biomass, relative to the surrounding soil (Shaw and Pawluk, 1986; Lavelle and Martin, 1992).  
Earthworms reject significant amounts of nutrients in their casts. In part these
losses result from the intense microbial activity in their gut, and from their own metabolic activity. Eg. The elimination of N due to fast turnover of this element in microbial biomass. A significant proportion of C assimilated by earthworms is secreted as intestinal and cutaneous mucus with greater C:N ratios than those of the resource used (Lavelle et al., 1983; Cortez and Bouche, 1987).
  
Joshi and Kelkar (1952) reported that earthworm casts contained greater percentage of finer fractions like silt and clay than in the surrounding soils. This change in mechanical composition of soil was probably due to the grinding action of earthworm gizzard. The chemical analysis of vermicasts revealed that they were richer in soluble salts, neutral or alkaline in reaction and had higher percentage of exchangeable Na, K and Mg but a lower exchangeable Ca than in corresponding soil.
Earthworm casts also contained greater amounts of Nitrogen (N), Phosphorous (P) and Potassium (K). The vermicasts contained higher amounts of nitrate nitrogen and possessed a greater nitrifying power than the corresponding soils.  Vermicompost also contained Mg, Ca, Fe, B,Mo and Zn in addition to some of the plant growth promoters and beneficial microflora.  Several valuable compounds were also produced through the earthworm – microfloral interaction, which included vitamins such as B12 and plant growth hormones such as gibberellins.  Barois et al., (1987) observed an activation of N mineralization, with the casts having 270 percent more ammonia than the bulk soil.  Within a year of application of vermiculture technology to the saline soil, 37 percent more N, 67 percent more P2O5 and 10 percent more K2O were recorded as compared to chemical fertilizer (Phule, 1993).
Kale (1991) has attributed the improved growth in pastures and in other crops like rye and barley to the chemical exudates of the worms and microbes in association with them.

Tomati et al., (1983) related the beneficial influence of worm cast to the biological factors of natural plant growth hormones like gibberellins, cytokinins and auxins released due to metabolic activity of the microbes harboured in the cast.  It has also been indicated that the chemical exudates of worms and those of microbes in the cast, influence the rooting or shoots of layers. 
In a field trial Kale and Bano (1986) observed that the seedling growth of rice in nursery increased significantly due to vermicompost application, and transplanting of seedlings could be made one or two days earlier than the usual practice. After transplanting the growth of seedlings in main field was more favourably influenced by worm cast than the chemical fertilizer. This was attributed to higher availability of nitrogen for plant growth. The improved growth was also attributed to the release of plant growth promoting compounds from worm cast, which in their opinion could easily replace the chemical fertilizers at nursery level.

Atiyeh et al. (2000) found that compost was higher in ammonium, while vermicompost tended to be higher in nitrates, which is the more plant-available form of nitrogen.  Similarly, work at NSAC by Hammermeister et al. (2004) indicated that “Vermicomposted manure has higher N availability than conventionally composted manure on a weight basis”. The latter study also showed that the supply rate of several nutrients, including P, K, S and Mg, were increased by vermicomposting as compared with conventional composting.  These results are typical of what other researchers have found (e.g., Short et al., 1999; Saradha, 1997, Sudha and Kapoor, 2000). It appears that the process of vermicomposting tends to result in higher levels of plant-availability of most nutrients than does the conventional composting process.

The literature has less information on this subject than on nutrient availability, yet it is widely believed that vermicompost greatly exceeds conventional compost with respect to levels of beneficial microbial activity.  Much of the work on this subject has been done at Ohio State University, led by Dr. Clive Edwards (Subler et al., 1998). In an interview (Edwards, 1999), he stated that vermicompost may be as much as 1000 times as microbially active as conventional compost, although that figure is not always achieved.  Moreover, he went on to say that “…these are microbes which are much better at transforming nutrients into forms readily taken up by plants than you find in compost – because we’re talking about thermophillic microbes in compost – so that the microbial
spectrum is quite different and also much more beneficial in a vermicompost.  I mean, I will stick by what I have said a number of times that a vermicompost is much, much preferable to a compost if you’re going in for a plant-growth medium.”

Many researchers have found that vermicast stimulates further plant growth even when the plants are already receiving optimal nutrition.  Atiyeh at al (2002) conducted an extensive review of the literature with regard to this phenomenon. The authors stated that: “These investigations have demonstrated consistently that vermicomposted organic wastes have beneficial effects on plant growth independent of nutritional transformations and availability. Whether they are used as soil additives or as components of horticultural soil less media, vermicomposts have consistently improved seed germination, enhanced seedling growth and development, and increased plant productivity much more than would be possible from the mere conversion of mineral nutrients into more plant-available forms.”  
Moreover, the authors go on to state a finding that others have also reported (e.g., Arancon, 2004), that  maximum benefit from vermicompost is obtained when it constitutes between 10 and 40% of the growing medium.  It appears that levels of vermicompost higher than 40% do not increase benefit and may even result in decreased growth or yield.  Atiyeh et al further speculate that the growth responses observed may be due to hormone-like activity associated with the high levels of humic acids and humates in vermicomposts: “…there seems a strong possibility that …plant-growth regulators which are relatively transient may become adsorbed on to humates and act in conjunction with them to influence plant growth”.  This important concept, that vermicompost includes plant-growth regulators which increase growth and yield, has been cited and is being further investigated by several researchers (Canellas et al, 2002).

There has been considerable anecdotal evidence in recent years regarding the ability of vermicompost to protect plants against various diseases.  The theory behind this claim is that the high levels of beneficial microorganisms in vermicompost protect plants by out-competing pathogens for available resources (starving them, so to speak), while also blocking their access to plant roots by occupying all the available sites.  This analysis is based on the concept of the “soil foodweb”, a soil-ecology-based approach pioneered by Dr. Elaine Ingham of Corvallis, Oregon (see her website at http://www.soilfoodweb.com for more details). Work on this attribute of vermicompost is still in its infancy, but research by both Dr. Ingham’s labs and the Ohio State Soil Ecology Laboratory are very promising.  With regard to the latter institution, Edwards and Arancon (2004) report that “…we have researched the effects of relatively small applications of commercially-produced vermicomposts, on attacks by Pythium on cucumbers, Rhizoctonia on radishes in the greenhouse, and by Verticillium on strawberries and Phomopsis and Sphaerotheca fulginae on grapes in the field. In all of these experiments, the vermicompost applications suppressed the incidence of the disease significantly.”

The authors go on to say that the pathogen suppression disappeared when the vermicompost was sterilized, indicating that the mechanism involved was microbial antagonism.  In recent research, Edwards and Arancon (2004) report statistically significant decreases in arthropod (aphid, mealy bug, spider mite) populations, and subsequent reductions in plant damage, in tomato, pepper, and cabbage trials with 20% and 40% vermicompost additions to Metro Mix 360 (the control).  They also found statistically significant suppression of plant-parasitic nematodes in field trials with peppers, tomatoes, strawberries, and grapes. Much more research is required, however, before vermicompost can be considered as an alternative to pesticides or alternative, non-toxic methods of pest control.

The Functions and Benefits of Enzymes in Soil and Plant Health

THE BENEFITS of PLANT ENZYMES

 


 

Plant Enzymes, such as Dehydrogenase, Amylase, Urease, Asparaginase, Cellulase, Invertase, Phosphatase, Phytase, Protease, Saccharase, Xylanase, and numerous others, play a vital role in overall soil fertility and plant nutrition.  The world is slowly commencing to awaken to the importance of enzymes in the biological activity of the soil.  A plant, like humans and animal, need enzymes to prosper. While the enzymes present in soil bacteria help to supply this need, good soil also contains free enzymes.  It is known that the operation of microorganisms in the soil is very important to the growth of plants, and Enzymes are responsible for making the cellular energy required by all organisms.  They break down molecules, recycle the old parts and make new molecules that allow new cells to grow. 

 

Enzymes are catalysts, meaning they speed up the rate at which reactants interact to form products in a chemical reaction, while not being consumed in the reaction. They physically combine chemical reactants in a way that lowers the energy required for bonds to break and new bonds to form, making the formation of a product much faster. They lower what is called the activation energy of the reaction, or the amount of energy required for a hybrid of the reactants and products to form. The hybrid then becomes the product. Without enzymes, these chemical reactions would proceed at a rate that is hundreds to millions of times slower.

The cells that comprise organisms obtain energy by breaking down organic carbon compounds such as sugar, protein and fat.  Breaking these molecules down into smaller parts is called catabolism, while building new molecules from these recycled smaller parts is called anabolism. Enzymes perform these functions at every step of the way. Energy sources such as glucose, a simple sugar, store a lot of energy. But the cell cannot access that energy unless it is able to break the bonds within the glucose molecule,
which they do with the help of Enzymes.

 


ENZYMES AND THEIR INFLUENCE ON BIOLOGIC ACTIVITY & SOIL FERTILITY


For over 125 million years, the earth has sustained itself by recycling organic, enzyme-rich substances.  As animals, insects, worms, micro- and other organisms consume plant matter, they also consume the enzymes of that plant matter, and rely on those enzymes for proper health, growth and development.

Synthetic, chemical, enzymeless fertilizers were developed about 50 or 60 years ago. These fertilizers often rely solely on N-P-K nutrients, ignoring the necessary interactions between all biological compounds of healthy plant cell growth and development.

Shortly, after the introduction  of and increased use of synthetic, chemical, enzymeless fertilizers, plants began weakening, could not hold their own, and began to be attacked and afflicted with numerous ailments which had been no real problem when natural, organic enzyme fertilizers were used.  Lower resistance to disease, damage, and stress have been among the consequences.

The chemical and synthetic enzymeless fertilizer substitutes weaken vegetables and other food plants, building up a hidden preclinical entity, a state of “disease” that is a prelude to disease.  Modern crops cannot stand on their own in the absence of  adequate supplies of enzymes.

This weak state of fruit, vegetable, and produce food can be a factor in many serious human diseases.  Though there is still much research to be done regarding vitamin synthesis in plants, vegetables, fruits, and other produce, several recent studies have shown vitamins are likely metabolized by a reaction involving enzymes.  Studies have shown decreasing levels of vitamins and other nutrients in produce grown today versus produce grown just 50 years ago.  Fewer enzymes, vitamins and minerals in produce means less nutrition available to humans and animals.  These substances are essential to healthy growth, development, and immunity support.

Adequate bacteria and fungal populations are essential in helping to break down organic matter.  These bacteria and fungi help produce enzymes, which assist in breaking down fallen leaves, bark, dead plant material, and other organic matter, freeing available nutrients (as in nitrogen-fixing), which the fungi & bacteria can then more easily digest and metabolize.  For example, the enzyme Phosphatase works to break down Phospate, which is a mineral, into simpler forms such as OrthoPhosphate.  Plants

can more easily absorb this OrthoPhosphate.  These bacteria and fungi do not and cannot feed on synthetic and chemical fertilizers, they require organic matter, utilizing the carbon for energy.  Fungi and molds are also responsible for synthesizing natural antibiotics, further protecting plants, and the animals and humans that eat them, from dangerous pathogens.



           

INTERACTIONS BETWEEN ENZYMES AND HUMIC SUBSTANCES


Plant energy metabolism is accelerated and the chlorophyll content of plant leaves is enhanced by the presence of humic substances. When Humic acids (HAs) and fulvic acids (FAs) are applied to plant leaves the chlorophyll content of those leaves increases. Activation of several biochemical processes results in an increase in enzyme synthesis, and an increase in the protein contents of the leaves. During these metabolic changes an increase in the concentration of several important enzymes is detected.
These enzymes activate the formation of both carrier and structural proteins.

Humic substances are a good source of energy for beneficial soil organisms. Humic substances and non humic (organic) compounds provide the energy and many of the mineral requirements for soil microorganisms and soil animals. Beneficial soil organisms lack the photosynthetic apparatus to capture energy from the sun thus must survive on residual carbon containing substances on or in the soil.  Energy stored within the carbon bonds functions to provide energy for various metabolic reactions within these organisms. Beneficial soil organisms (algae, yeasts, bacteria, fungi nematodes, mycorrhizae, and small animals) perform many beneficial functions which influence soil fertility and plant health. For example the bacteria release organic acids which aid in the solubility and bioavailability of mineral elements bound in soil. Bacteria also release complex polysaccharides  (sugar based compounds) that help create soil crumbs (aggregates). Soil crumbs give soil a desirable structure.

Other beneficial soil microorganisms such as the Actinomyces release antibiotics into the soil. These antibiotics are taken up by the plant to protect it against pests. Antibiotics also function to create desirable ecological balances of soil organisms on the root surface (rhizoplane) and in soil near the roots (rhizosphere). Fungi also perform many beneficial functions in soils. For example, mycorrhizae aid plant roots in the uptake of water and trace elements. Other fungi decompose crop residues and vegetative matter releasing bound nutrients for other organisms. Many of the organic compounds released by fungi aid in forming humus and soil crumbs. Beneficial soil animals create tunnel like channels in the soil. These channels allow the soil to breath, and exchange gases with the atmosphere. Soil animals also aid in the formation of humus, and help balance the concentration of soil microorganisms. A healthy fertile soil must contain sufficient carbon containing compounds to sustain the billions of microscopic life forms required for a fertile soil and a healthy plant.

A living soil is a fertile, healthy soil.

The Benefits of Plant Growth Hormones

The Benefits of Plant Growth Hormones

 


 

Plant growth hormones, such as Gibberellins, Cytokinins, Humic Acid, Fulvic Acid, Auxin, and others, play a vital role in soil fertility and plant nutrition. Plants grown on soils which contain adequate hormones, humin, humic adds (HAs), and fulvic adds (FAs) are less subject to stress, are healthier, produce higher yields; and the nutritional quality of harvested foods and feeds are superior. The value of hormones and humic substances in soil fertility and plant nutrition relates to the many functions these complex organic compounds perform as a part of the life cycle on earth.  The life death cycle involves a recycling of the carbon containing structural components of plants and animals through the soil and air and back into the living plant.

 

Science became distracted from the importance of organic compound cycling when it was discovered that soluble acidic based N-P-K fertilizers could stimulate plant growth. Large industrial concerns took advantage of the N-P-K discovery to market industrially processed fertilizers from mineral deposits. Continued use of these acidic fertilizers in the absence of adequate humic substances (in the soil) has caused many serious sociological and ecological problems. Humans needs to reconsider their approach to fertilization techniques by giving higher priority to soil humus, micronutrients, microbial health, and plant growth hormones.

The urgency to emphasize the importance of humic substances and their value as fertilizer ingredients has never been more important than it is today. All those concerned about the ability of soils to support plant growth need to assist in educating the public. Humic substances are recognized by most soil scientists and agronomists as the most important component of a healthy fertile soil.
To illustrate how humic substances and hormones function, the following summary, based on published scientific data, has been prepared as a guide for an educational program. In addition, by understanding how these carbon containing substances function, professionals will have a solid foundation on which to design environmentally acceptable sustainable agriculture programs.


HUMIC SUBSTANCES AND THEIR INFLUENCE ON SOIL FERTILITY

Humic substances are a good source of energy for beneficial soil organisms. Humic substances and non humic (organic) compounds provide the energy and many of the mineral requirements for soil microorganisms and soil animals. Beneficial soil organisms lack the photosynthetic apparatus to capture energy from the sun thus must survive on residual carbon containing substances on or in the soil.
Energy stored within the carbon bonds functions to provide energy for various metabolic reactions within these organisms. Beneficial soil organisms (algae, yeasts, bacteria, fungi nematodes, mycorrhizae, and small animals) perform many beneficial functions which influence soil fertility and plant health. For example the bacteria release organic acids which aid in the solubility and bioavailability of mineral elements bound in soil. Bacteria also release complex polysaccharides (sugar based compounds) that help create soil crumbs (aggregates). Soil crumbs give soil a desirable structure. Other beneficial soil microorganisms such as the Actinomyces release antibiotics into the soil. These antibiotics are taken up by the plant to protect it against pests. Antibiotics also function to create desirable ecological balances of soil organisms on the root surface (rhizoplane) and in soil near the roots (rhizosphere). Fungi also perform many beneficial functions in soils. For example, mycorrhizae aid plant roots in the uptake of water and trace elements. Other fungi decompose crop residues and vegetative matter releasing bound nutrients for other organisms. Many of the organic compounds released by fungi aid in forming humus and soil crumbs. Beneficial soil animals create tunnel like channels in the soil. These channels allow the soil to breath, and exchange gases with the atmosphere. Soil animals also aid in the formation of humus, and help balance the concentration of soil microorganisms. A healthy fertile soil must contain sufficient carbon containing compounds to sustain the billions of microscopic life forms required for a fertile soil and a healthy plant. A living soil is a fertile healthy soil.

 

 

 


 

HUMIC SUBSTANCES AND THEIR INFLUENCE ON PLANT GROWTH AND
DEVELOPMENT


A study on the effects of humic acid on plant growth was conducted at Ohio State University which said in part “humic acids increased plant growth” and that there were “relatively large responses at low application rates”.
Plant growth is influenced indirectly and directly by humic substances. Positive correlations between the humus content of the soil, plant yields and product quality have been published in many different scientific journals. Indirect effects, previously discussed, are those factors which provide energy for the beneficial organisms within the soil, influence the soil’s water holding capacity, influence the soil’s structure, release of plant nutrients from soft minerals, increased availability of trace minerals, and in general improved soil fertility. Direct effects include those changes in plant metabolism that occur following the uptake of organic macromolecules, such as humic acids, fulvic acids. Once these compounds enter plant cells several biochemical changes occur in membranes and various cytoplasmic components of plant cells.

Uptake of major plant nutrients is mediated by humic substances. One stimulative effect of humic substances on plant growth is enhanced uptake of major plant nutrients: nitrogen (N) phosphorus (P), and potassium (K). When adequate humic substances are present within the soil the requirement for N P K fertilizer applications is reduced. As the level of humic substances in soils become depleted the misleading demand for higher concentrations of N P K results. Many growers have over the past several years reported increasing demands for soluble acid fertilizers In order to maintain crop yields. Such observations indicate something is wrong within the soil. Increased leaching of nitrate fertilizer ingredients into the ground water is also a warning of problems to come. Then trends reflect losses in soil humic substances.  Growers could reduce their fertilizer requirements and retain the fertilizer ingredients within the plants rooting zone by the application of humate based fertilizers. The application of either dry or liquid humic substances to soils dramatically increases fertilizer efficiency. Other researchers have reported increased uptake of calcium (Ca), and magnesium (Mg) when plants are irrigated with liquid suspensions of humic acids (HAs) or fulvic acids (FAs). Another key mechanism, which maximizes fertilizer efficiency and relates to a function of humic substances, is a reduction in the toxicity and leaching of nitrogen compounds into subsoil water. Humic substances hold these major plant nutrients in a molecular form which reduces their solubility in water. These binding processes reduce leaching nitrogen into the subsoil and help prevent volatilization into the atmosphere.

The absorption of humic substances into seeds has a positive influence on seed germination and seedling development. The application of humic (HA) or fulvic acids (FA) to seeds will increase the seed germination; resulting in higher seed germination rates. Application rates of humic acids (HAs) or fulvic acids (FAs), required for improved seed germination, range from 20 to 100 mg/liter of seed. In order for improved germination to occur the humic substances must be present within the cells of seeds. As the humic substance enter the seed cells, respiration rate increases, and cell division processes are accelerated. These same respiratory processes enhance root meristem development and activate other growing points within the seedlings.  Humic substances have been demonstrated to enhance mitotic activity during cell division under carefully controlled experiments. Placement of these humic substances on seeds (seed treatment) or within the seed furrow will significantly improve seed germination and seedling development. Excessive amounts of humic acids (HAs) and/or fulvic acids (FAs) can inhibit seed germination and at high concentrations can kill young seedlings.  Therefore follow recommended rates when applying humic substances.

In recent years, humic substances have been shown to increase yields of corn and oats, tobacco roots, soybeans, peanuts, and clover; chicory plants, tropical crops and other crops. More recently, workers have reported increases in the growth of crops grown in planting media amended with humic acids that were extracted from vermicompost. These reports hypothesized that plant growth hormones may become adsorbed on to humic fractions so the plant growth response is a combined hormonal/humic one.

Humic substances have a very pronounced influence on the growth of plant roots. When humic acids (HAs) and/or fulvic acids (FAs) are applied to soil enhancement of root initiation and increased root growth are observed. Thus the common observation that humic acids (HAs) and fulvic adds (FAs) are root simulators. In most experimental studies plant root growth is stimulated to a greater extent compared to stimulation of above ground plant parts. Carefully designed experiments have been conducted under controlled conditions to measure plant response. For example, replicate treatments of plants grown within the greenhouse, with and without humic acid and fulvic acids has illustrated how humic substances influence root growth. In repeated experiments the treated root weights averaged from 20 to 50% heavier compared to the weights of non treated roots. The type of humic substance applied had a significant influence on the percent of increase. Not all humic substances contain a desirable molecular mixture of humins, humic acids (HAs) and fulvic acids (FAs) capable of rapidly stimulation root growth. Some humic substances, because of their large molecular sizes, failed to stimulate plant root development. Root stimulation occurs when the smaller molecular components within fulvic acid (FA) occur at a concentration which ranges from 10 to 100 mg/liter of solution. Growth is further stimulated when fulvic acids (FAs) are used in combination with humic acids (HAs) and other required plant nutrients. Humic substances improve plant nutrition, however they are not complete nutrients by themselves. Excessively high concentrations of humic substances can result
in a reduction in root weight.  For optimum plant growth humic acids (HAs) and fulvic acids (FAs) should be applied at relatively low concentrations. Applications of humic substances within a fairly wide range of concentrations are highly beneficial to plant root  development.

Humic acids (HAs) and fulvic acids (FAs) are excellent foliar fertilizer carriers and activators.  Application of humic acids (HAs) of fulvic acids (FAs) in combination with trace elements and other plant nutrients, as foliar sprays, can improve the growth of plant foliage, roots, and fruits.  By increasing plant growth processes within the leaves an increase in carbohydrates content of the leaves and stems occurs. These carbohydrates are then transported down the stems into the roots where they are in part released from the root  to provide nutrients for various soil microorganisms on the rhizoplane and in the rhizosphere. The microorganisms then release acids and other organic compounds which increase the availability of plant nutrients. Other microorganisms release other “hormone like” compounds which are taken up by plant roots. The required concentration of humic acids (HAs) and/or fulvic acids (FAs) within the foliar spray should be relatively low, generally less than 50 mg of concentrated dry humic substance per liter of water. Foliar fertilizers containing humic acids (HAs) and fulvic acids (FAs) in combination with nitrogen, potassium, phosphorus and various trace minerals have been demonstrated to be from 100 to 500 % more efficient compared to applications of similar fertilizers to the soil. Foliar fertilizers are also more economical because smaller quantities of fertilizer are required to obtain significant plant response. Plant nutrients within foliar fertilizers are rapidly absorbed by the plant leaves. Within 8 hours after applications of humic substances are applied changes in many different metabolic processes are detected. Enhanced carbohydrate production can be detected within 24 to 48 hours after foliar feeding by use of a refractometer. Enhanced carbohydrate production can result in improved product quality or increased yields.

Young plant roots, leaves, and growing plants are more responsive to applications of humic substances. Actively growing plant tissues are the most responsive to applications of humic substances. Younger tissues have active transport mechanisms that move the required nutrients to sites of metabolic activity. For example, foliar applications of humic substances to young actively growing leaves results in a greater increase in plant growth when compared to foliar applications to older plant leaves. Actively growing plant parts involved in cell divisions and other growth processes, readily integrate various trace minerals and growth regulating compounds into ongoing metabolic processes in contrast older plant parts in which metabolic processes have slowed are unable to efficiently utilize added humic substances and associated nutrients. The concentrations of dry humlc acids (HAs) within the spray solution should range from 5 to 100 mg per liter of water for optimum response. Difference in the active ingredients of a specific substance may require changing these concentrations.  At higher concentrations, above 100 mg of dry humic acid (HA) per liter, plant, shoot, and even root growth way be Inhibited, depending on the activity of the substances under test. Plants respond more slowly to soil applications of humic substances because a large percentage of the humic substance is retained within the roots during plant growth.

In most plants less than 30% of the humic substances present within the roots are translocated up the stems into the plant leaves.  Foliar applications of relatively small molecular units of humic substances containing trace minerals (on actively growing plants) can be timed to meet the needs of specific plant growth requirements. Applications can be timed to activate vegetative growth, flowering,  fruit set, or filling and ripening of fruits.

Energy metabolism is accelerated and the chlorophyll content of plant leaves is enhanced by the presence of humic substances.  When Humic acids (HAs) and fulvic acids (FAs) are applied to plant leaves the chlorophyll content of those leaves increases. As the chlorophyll concentration increases there is a correlated increase in the uptake of oxygen. Chlorophyll development within plant leaves is more pronounced when fulvic adds (FAs) are present in the foliar fertilizer. Organic acids [humic acids (HAs) and fulvic acids (FAs)] also increase the concentration of messenger ribonucleic acids (m RNA) In plant cells. Messenger RNA is essential for many biochemical processes within cells. Activation of several biochemical processes results in an increase in enzyme synthesis and an increase in the protein contents of the leaves. During these metabolic changes an increase in the concentration of several important enzymes is detected. Some of the enzymes which are reported to increase are catalase, peroxidases, diphenoloxidase,  polyphenoloxidases, and invertase. These enzymes activate the formation of both carrier and structural proteins.