Soil Fertility and the Importance of Mycorrhizae Fungi

San Jacinto Environmental, 2011, originally published this article.  As we wholeheartedly agree with it and use their products we wanted to put our own touch to this valuable information.

Feed the soil and you feed the world...I digress, for our purposes here, let us feed your soil and you'll enjoy a healthy, beautiful, disease resistant landscape that will require less water!

SOIL: it’s not simply dirt, it is a complex living and fragile system

essential to nutrient cycling, home to trillions of bacteria, fungi,

protists, and others, all feeding, living and dying largely unseen

beneath our feet.

The soil and plant have a spiritual union that is inseparable. Healthy soils

will produce healthy plants that yield abundance and beauty. And when

the plants are healthy we eliminate the need for pesticides that are costly

and dangerous. From an "organic" perspective then, everything we use

must be good for the soil as well as the plant. Feed the soil as it will feed

the plant.

True organic fertilizers and amendments work with the dynamic biological

and chemical soil equilibrium. At Dream Away Outdoor Designs we have

chosen to work with Mother Nature rather than against her. We promote

the life in the soil thus healthy vibrant plants.

Organic fertility products and practices will improve your soil, increase yields (flowers), reduce costs, promote health, beauty and provide for a safer and sounder landscape.

What is a true "organic" product? A company cannot use the term "organic" unless they are certified. At San Jacinto Environmental, when they call a product organic than that means it is approved for use by the Texas Department of Agriculture-Organic Farm standards, the strongest rules and regulations in the world. Check labels and ask questions, many products that are labeled as ‘organic’ or ‘all natural’ are neither.  This is why at Dream Away Outdoor Designs, we only use the products from,
San Jacinto Environmental and Natures Way Resources when it comes to the soil.  The Best products equal the best results. We help your soil get its balance back and keep it there, just as Mother Nature intended.

Building Healthy Soils
Healthy soils are a complex ever-changing biological continuum. Healthy soils contain an abundance of life. The total amount of living organisms in the healthy soil is unbelievably large. In a single gram of healthy soil there are as many as 500 million microorganisms consisting of algae, fungi, bacteria, protozoans, nematodes, etc. That translates to 10,000 lb. to 50,000 lb. total weight of positive soil microorganisms in an acre plow slice of soil.

As these microorganisms live and die throughout the year, they act as a hidden workforce on our behalf by adding organic matter to the soil through their decomposition, chelating soil minerals for plant use, fighting plant disease and pest insects, increasing soil fertility by increasing the base exchange capacity, improving soil structure by releasing
polysaccharides and creating humic acid through the breakdown of organic matter. As soil structure improves, this allows for greater fertility, deeper/stronger root growth, water conservation and oxygen exchange.

In addition, a healthy soil microorganism population can contribute up to 300 lb. of

nitrogen per year per acre to the plants! To maintain healthy soils in your

landscape it requires a continuous management program, the results

are well worth the effort.

Healthy soils equal healthy plants and healthy plants are productive without the cost of

pesticides. Unless the soil is alive, truly alive, you'll have to use artificial stimulators like

chemical fertilizers which only temporarily sustain plant growth because they by-pass

thenatural process. Chemical fertilizers are derivatives of mineral salts in a concentrated

form. The high salts in chemical fertilizers destroy soil life. Plants existing on only chemical fertilizers require increased amounts of pesticides because the plants cannot build natural immunities. If you’ve decided not to go organic and chemical fertilizers are used, insist on good quality, avoiding all fertilizers with Ammonia Nitrate and Potassium Chloride. (Muriate of Potash) You will call on us eventually.

For a well-managed soil system and therefore productive plants, constantly add organic matter as a food source for microorganisms and to improve soil health and structure. Return plant residues, lawn clippings and add mulch/compost to beds/turf whenever possible. Avoid (a complete organic program does not need them) the use of soil applied insecticides, herbicides and fungicides whenever possible as these agents are poisons often with long residuals that destroy soil life and weaken the entire system. For example, between 1950 and 1980 American farmers applied 12 x as much pesticides (50 million lbs.-600 million lbs.) and still suffered twice the crop loss due to insects.

We encourage the use of organic fertilizers (soil feeders) like Micro-Life (from
San Jacinto Environmental) as they not only feed the plant, they provide a food source for soil microorganisms, thus not really a fertilizer, a soil feeder. Adjust the pH in the soil, provide proper drainage, and reduce soil compaction, the results are outstanding. Poor health in soils is breeding grounds for weeds and diseases. Check into the use of bio-inoculant’s, for they will build populations of positive soil microorganisms, remove toxins, remove salts and herbicide residuals while improving soil tilth. Bio-inoculant’s will also reduce the need for fertilizers and pesticides.  Note above, that’s why we FEED the SOIL. As the soil becomes healthier, the plants become stronger and that is a good situation for us all.

***At Dream Away Outdoor Designs, we believe and have seen the results; that bio-inoculnts are the single most important part of a complete Organic Soil Management Program!

Bio-inoculant (SOIL INOCULANTS) are agricultural amendments that use beneficial microbes (endophytes) to promote plant health, MYCORRHIZAL FUNGI.  i.e. Leaf Mold-Compost.

             SOIL INOCULANTS:              Mycorrhizae are nature’s soil inoculants, tiny fungal filaments that work

                                                                       symbiotically with plant roots to help absorb more moisture and nutrients.  They also release

                                                                       enzymes that help break down nutrients into forms more easily utilized.  Mycorrhizae occur

                                                                       naturally in soil but are often depleted by cultivation, chemical use, compaction, topsoil erosion and

                                                                       over watering.  Re-introducing them into the soil or directly to your plants roots is most beneficial.

                                                              Mycorrhizae Fungi are beneficial soil organisms that attach themselves to the

                                                              roots of plants.  Almost 95% of the worlds growing things have a symbiotic

                                                              relationship with Mycorrhizae, which help them facilitate the uptake of water and

                                                              nutrients.  Mycorrhizae fungi play an important role in the environment.  They

                                                              assist plants in taking up carbon dioxide, which helps the plants and the



organic landscape design-build-maintain, Organic fertilization in The Woodlands, lighting, irrigation: Done the right way, organically!