AG-USA



Conquer Nature By Cooperating With It
 

Build Topsoil Fast

 

"The nation that destroys its soil destroys itself" (Roosevelt 1937)

The future of America depends on the future of her soil.

 

The most meaningful indicator for the health
of the land, and the long-term wealth of a nation,
is whether soil is being formed or lost.


Despite our efforts to implement 'best practice' in soil conservation, our soils continue to deteriorate. Most farm soils have become seriously degraded.


If productive soil continues to be lost, debates about the optimum enterprise mix, pasture species, fertilizer rate, percentage of trees, or any other 'detail' over which we seem to argue endlessly, are irrelevant. They amount to re-arranging the deck chairs on the Titanic.


Research efforts in the soil science arena have concentrated on reducing the rate of soil loss. The concept of building new topsoil is rarely considered. But that is where our focus needs to be!

 

 

Building new topsoil

In order for new soil to form, it must be living. Life in the soil provides the structure for more life, and the formation of more soil. Building new topsoil is much like building a house (Bushby 2002). A good house is one which is comfortable for the occupants. It requires a roof, walls and airy rooms with good plumbing. Soil with poor structure cannot function effectively, even when nutrient and moisture levels are optimal (Bushby 2002).

The roof of a healthy soil is the groundcover of plants and plant litter, which buffer temperatures, improve water infiltration and slow down evaporation, so that soil remains moister for longer following rainfall. The building materials for the walls are gums and polysaccharides produced by soil microbes. These sticky substances enable soil minerals to be glued together into little lumps (aggregates) and the aggregates to be glued together into peds. When soil is well aggregated, the spaces (pores) between the aggregates form the rooms in the house. They allow the soil to breathe, as well as absorb moisture quickly when it rains. A healthy topsoil should be about half solid materials and half pore spaces (Brady 1984).

Friable, porous topsoils make it easier for plant roots to grow and for small soil invertebrates to move around. Well-structured soils retain the moisture necessary for microbial activity, nutrient cycling and vigorous plant growth and are less prone to erosion. Unfortunately, soil structure is very fragile and soil aggregates are continually being broken down (Bushby 2001). An ongoing supply of energy in the form of carbohydrates from actively growing plant roots and decomposing plant litter is required, so that soil organisms can flourish and produce adequate amounts of the sticky secretions required to maintain the 'house'.

Ingredients for soil formation

There are six essential ingredients for soil formation.

  1. Minerals
  2. Air
  3. Water
  4. Living things IN the soil (plants and animals) and their by-products
  5. Living things ON the soil (plants and animals) and their by-products
  6. Intermittent and patchy disturbance regimes (provided by intensive grazing or pulse grazing)

  • For soil to form, it needs to be living (#4 above)
  • To be living, soil needs to be covered with either healthy plants or decomposing plant litter (#5 above)

Rules for soil formation

For all land, whether for grazing, cropping, horticulture, timber, conservation or recreation.

  • No bare soil. Soil must always be covered with plants or plant litter.
  • Produce organic matter. Rest groundcover from grazing, or grow green manure crops with minimum tillage.
  • Graze or slash the groundcover periodically. Use high stock densities for short periods to place organic matter both in and on the soil (root pruning and litter trampling). On pasture cropped land, this may include one or two in-crop graze periods. Green manure crops can be incorporated in the soil through animal impact. For non-pasture lands, lightly till in green manure crops.

Soil balance is crucial

Soil conditions must be such that soil organisms can flourish. High levels of biological activity are required for rapid formation of topsoil. What effect do you think that drenches, pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, nematicides and fertilizers have on soil balance and life? These chemicals are one of the primary causes of soil loss.

The activities of beneficial soil microbes are important for the formation of soil aggregates. These give soil its structure, improve porosity and water-holding capacity, all of which are critical for proper soil balance and life.

In other words, when aerobic soil microbes are given what they need, they create a perfect living environment for themselves. It is plants that benefit most from this perfect environment, for it is a nutrient rich environment in which the plant lacks nothing.

Speeding up soil development

When given a perfect environment, plants will secrete up to half of the sugars they manufacture down through their roots, and still have more than enough for high sugar levels in the plant. These secreted sugars feed soil microbes, resulting in greater biological activity and faster new topsoil formation. It is the energy from biological activity that drives the process.

Monitoring progress

Smell  A composty smell indicates high levels of biological activity, particularly fungi. Soil will have a friable texture and be dark in color.

Soil that springs back  Highly structured soil should feel light and springy under your feet. Can you easily push a screwdriver in up to the handle? With continued soil building, I have seen a 4' soil probe easily penetrate a full four feet into the ground.

Erosion resistant  Highly structured soil clings together and resists erosion. It weighs less than non-flocculated soil.

Jumpstarting the soil building process

Is there a secret to jumpstarting the process? The secret lies in doing the following:

  1. Clean chemicals and toxins out of the soil so that aerobic microbes can thrive

  2. Flush salts out of the root zone; salts inhibit microbial activity

  3. Give plants the organic nutrients and trace minerals they need for maximum sugar (liquid carbon) sequestration

  4. Inoculate the soil with a rich variety of microbes, including nitrogen-fixing bacteria. Initially, over an inch of moisture will be needed to help these bacteria get established in the soil

  5. Find a way to energize plants to sequester large amounts of sugars (liquid carbon) into the soil.




MycorrPlus

(formerly called GroPal Balance) -

A Breakthrough in

Soil-Building Technology!

 

Over 10 years of research have gone into developing a product designed to accomplish each of the 5 things listed above.

Side by side field tests have confirmed that the product works. Lab reports also verify these results. The product is called MycorrPlus (formerly GroPal Balance).

MycorrPlus is designed to do the following:

  1. Quickly break down chemicals and toxins in the soil to create an optimal environment for aerobic microbes

  2. Flush salts out of the root zone

  3. Provide a rich diversity of nutrients needed for optimum sugar sequestration, including all the trace minerals found in the ocean

  4. Inoculate the soil with a rich variety of aerobic bacteria, fungi and other microbes, including nitrogen-fixing bacteria

  5. Energize plants to sequester large amounts of sugars (liquid carbon) into the soil

 

When given the right environment, it is possible to create a full one inch of new topsoil a year, plus transform the soil below it. (Hill, S. B., 2002)

 

Now, just imagine having dark, rich soil 
that you've always dreamed of having!

Imagine how it will change your life when 
water soaks in instead of running off!

Imagine how you will feel when your livestock 
are the best looking livestock in the area!

Imagine how much more
your animals will be worth!

 


For carbon rich soil, do one of the following:

 

Literature cited

Brady N.C. (1984). The Nature and Properties of Soils. Ninth Edition. Macmillan.

Bushby, V. (2001). Soil biology. Stipa Newsletter, 18: 6-9.

Bushby, V. (2002). Soil biology, aggregation and structural decline. Stipa Newsletter, 19: 4-7.

Earl, J. M. and Jones, C. E. (1996). The need for a new approach to grazing management—is cell grazing the answer?Rangelands Journal, 18: 327 - 350.

Edwards, K. and Zierholz, C. (2001). Soil formation and erosion rates. In: Soils: Their Properties and Management. (Eds. P.E.V. Charman and B.W. Murphy) pp. 39-58. Second Edition. Oxford University Press.

Hill, S. B. (2002). 'Redesign' for soil, habitat and biodiversity conservation: Lessons from Ecological Agriculture and Social Ecology'. Proceedings 'Sustaining Our Future: through Healthy Soils, Habitats and Biological Diversity' launch of the 'Healthy Soils Campaign'. Nature Conservation Council of NSW, Sydney, 6 April, 2002.

Jones, C.E. (1999). Cropping native pasture and conserving biodiversity: a potential technique. Proceedings Bushcare Conference 'Balancing Conservation and Production in Grassy Landscapes', Clare, SA, pp. 142-144.

Jones, C.E. (2000). Grazing management for healthy soils. Stipa Inaugural National Grasslands Conference 'Better Pastures Naturally', Mudgee, NSW, pp. 68-75.

Jordon, C.F. (1998). Working with Nature: Resource Management for Sustainability. Harwood Academic.

Martin, G. (2001). Understanding soil building processes. Australian Farm Journal, May 2001, pp. 66-70.



Want more information on building topsoil fast?  Here it is!

The Best Way to Form Topsoil

 


Many scientists have confused themselves — and the general public — by assuming soil carbon sequestration and the making of topsoil occurs as a result of the decomposition of organic matter such as crop residues

In stark contrast, in her interview with AcresUSA magazine, Dr. Jones points out that most of the elements needed to create topsoil are found in the atmosphere and that the creation of new soil centers around carbon. Compost may help, but it is simply not the best way to create topsoil.

A plant can acquire between 85 to 90 percent of the building materials it needs from the air to create liquid carbon. The rest of the nutrients are provided from the soil. Soil microbes use this liquid carbon as an energy source to help them convert tied up nutrients into available plant food. In the process, the sugars emitted by the roots act as a glue to create complex soil structure, which includes stable forms of carbon and humus.

New topsoil is rapidly created in this environment. Once MycorrPlus is activated with at least 1.1” of moisture and a soil temperature above 45 degrees, almost immediately plants begin to secrete liquid carbon into the soil, and it is only a matter of weeks before new soil begins to form.

MycorrPlus contains micro and macro nutrients needed by the plant, plus 4 strains of mycorrhizae fungi and over 70 strains of aerobic bacteria that help the soil to convert nutrients tied up in the soil into available plant food.


Benefits of Sequestering Carbon into the Soil

 


Carbon is needed for soil structuring and water holding.

Establishing a good soil structure enables nitrogen-fixing bacteria to function. You will rarely see a nitrogen deficient plant in a healthy natural ecosystem. Ammonia that is fixed from the air is rapidly converted into an amino acid or incorporated into a humic polymer. These organic forms of nitrogen cannot be leached or volatilized.

With rapid carbon sequestering, the growth rate of plants can quickly increase, with as much as a 25% to 30% increase in yields by the 2nd year. That is the power of properly functioning soil.

The Transition from Fertilizers

to MycorrPlus

 

Dr. Jones mentions that foliar applications of trace minerals can help in the transition from a chemical program.

MycorrPlus F or O-F (organic) are great choices for a foliar application for row crops, trees, etc.

 

How Chemical Fertilizers
Slow the Soil-building Process


As Dr. Jones pointed out, if plants can obtain nitrogen and phosphorus easily, they will stop pumping carbon into the soil to support their microbial partners. This interruption of the carbon flow to the soil reduces aggregation and the forming of new topsoil.

 

Some individuals may want to apply a little nitrogen when a grain plant like corn or wheat is fruiting to increase protein in the grain. The problem is, the test for protein is actually a measurement of nitrogen, not a true test of protein. So whereas the protein might actually be higher in a crop grown without supplemental nitrogen, crops fertilized with nitrogen at fruitation are likely to test higher for protein.

 

As Dr. Jones stated, including some clovers or peas with your wheat or some vetch with your corn is another way of supplying the soil with extra organic nitrogen. As is mentioned in her article, in biologically active soils, Dr. Jones hasn’t seen a response to synthetic nitrogen or phosphorus fertilizers. Dr. Jones found the use of NPK to be counterproductive.

Remember that a soil test can only tell you what is available to plants by passive uptake of inorganic nutrients. The other 97 percent of minerals, those made available by microbes, will not show up on a standard soil test.

By nurturing the aerobic microbes in the soil, we can increase the availability of a huge variety of minerals and trace elements — most of which are not contained in fertilizers.


Maintaining Soil Aggregates

 

Keep the soil covered and don’t till it

Tilling the soil or allowing soil to remain bare for a number of months disrupts soil microbial life, as well as mycorrhizal fungi. Plant a cover crop and use companion crops with cash crops. Remember, plants colonized by mycorrhizal fungi can grow much more robustly even though they’re giving away as much as half of the sugars that they make in photosynthesis through their roots. They photosynthesize faster, producing more sugars, which can in turn be shared with the soil.

In regions with a hot, dry summer, evaporation is enemy number one. Bare soil will be significantly hotter and lose more moisture than covered soil. Aggregates will break down unless the soil is alive. Aggregation is absolutely vital for moisture infiltration and retention.

Avoid chemical applications


This includes fungicides, pesticides, insecticides and herbicides. It is a no-brainer that something designed to kill things is going to do just that. Synthetic fertilizers like NPK are mentioned above.

Chemical applications can inhibit the soil fungi that are essential to crop nutrition and soil building. When soil fungi are kept from functioning properly, plants can no longer use them to obtain the trace elements they need to fight fungal diseases.

 

Overcoming weeds

 
When we spray for weeds it creates bare ground and the weed seed that’s there means the weeds simply come back.

Some weeds have deep roots that help to bring up nutrients. Leaving them can mean that better quality plants will eventually be able to grow in the improved soil and replace the weeds. A little patience may be needed while soils improve.

For dry regions, perennial grasses have incredibly deep root systems and form mycorrhizal associations that help them survive during dry periods. They will soon create their own microclimate to help them overcome a lack of water and thrive, displacing weeds.

A diversity of plants actually improves nutrient acquisition and water retention, and helps to fill in gaps in the soil. Multi-species pasture cropping can help to displace unwanted weeds. Rotational grazing can help, too. For cash crops, multi-species cover crops and companion crops can help with weed control and soil improvement, as soils move toward fungal dominance.

 

MycorrPlus is the most advanced system we know of for accomplishing carbon sequestration and the building of topsoil. An annual application for the average farm is only $20 to $40 an acre.

  • Ok, now once again imagine having the dark, rich soil of your dreams!

  • Imagine how it will help you when water soaking in instead of running off!

  • Imagine how you will feel when your livestock are the best looking in the area!

  • Imagine how much more money your animals will be worth!


Do one of the following today: