Plant Roots Growing in 3D

Science Magazine


Gardening with Organic Mulch [+Rant]

What he’s practising is excellent, however I felt I needed to make a few comments, firstly on the use of the word aggradation and then a few other terms.

I believe the word he wants is aggregation, which is what soil microbes do by aggregating soil particles with mucilage and exudates to build soil aggregates and structure as they move through it. Aggradation however is the formation of soils by geological process, like wind, rain, and the movement of water causing sediment accumulation. It is often caused by soil degradation through poor land management practices such as tillage.

Also, a more appropriate title for his clickbait would probably be Gardening with Organic Mulch, as I’ve titled it here. As decomposing plant residue is considered an organic fertilizer by many. Ramial chipped wood is just one form of mulch, and not always the best form for every application or soil. It is excellent for building soil however for subsoil application material higher in nitrogen will feed microbes more of what they’re made from and build soil faster if the soil moisture and environment are adequate.

I believe the fungi that break down the ramial chipped wood and other organic matter are collectively known as saprophytic fungi, Basidiomycota mentioned are just one division of that family and of the larger that make up the Saprotrophs, which include other microbiology, fauna, plants and animals. Holistic approaches use all of these to build soil for differing plant needs.

Ramial chipped wood tends to be high in potassium and low in phosphorus, why fungi love it. The high carbon content also buffers soil pH and moisture which they like. Just add water.

The fastest ways nature builds soil organic matter is actually in prairies and grasslands with high rainfall, not forests. Protected seagrass bays are even more productive than these and contain the highest amounts of soil organic matter recorded to date. These areas maximise photosynthesis and nutrient runoff from higher elevations and tides, and in native grasslands the long thin root perennials sequester carbon, the building block of all organic matter, deep within the soil profile where it isn’t easily oxidized and will live for centuries to millennia. Fungi also store carbon inside of soil microaggregates preventing their oxidation by other organisms that would release it as atmospheric gases. Releasing these gases isn’t always bad as plants can feed off these higher concentration atmospheric gases created by the soil biology to increase productivity and sequester more, but only if the soil moisture and environment is adequate.

I keep repeating soil moisture because it has been shown to be by far the most important factor in building organic matter in native soils. And ramial chipped wood in moderation is certainly an excellent way of managing soil moisture while also fertilizing. It covers soil, it hold moisture, it fertilizes.

You will however not get Back to the Garden of Eden with just wood chips!

Wood chips reduce photosynthetic land productivity when not planted out!

A more holistic approach is needed to solve for these!

Now I’m tempted to start my own growing movement and calling it Holiculture. 😛


Controlling Fruit Flies with Netting or Clay [+Rant]

While many of the suggestions in this big ag monocropping series include sprays and traps with inorganic and organic pesticides, inorganic (that word again) row netting or kaolinite clay may be a good option according to their trials. Careful though, as kaolinite can kill all, including the protective microbes on leaf and fruit surfaces that we eat. It’s also known to be effective on superbugs that form biofilms and quorum sense to work together and overpower a larger host. Powerful stuff.

Personally I’m not a fan of any form of aerosolised compounds, as without protection they are easily inhaled. One study I read even highlighted how many dangerous microbes in a grey watering systems became aerosolised when the winds picked up, and these weren’t even sprayed on!

Weather matters when you spray, fertigate, or simply irrigate! Why it’s a good reason to always subsurface irrigate where possible.