BELATED HOLIDAY GREETINGS: Thank You for Your Past Business & we hope you had a great holiday season and we look forward to working with you this year. Good Luck & Good Growing. Dr. Phil, Joe & Sue.
CHANGE AT CSI: Ron Ward has retired. We wish him well and welcome on board Joe Miazgowicz (Maz΄-go-wits). Joe comes to us from Flowerfield Enterprises, a company built around Mary Applehof’s books including the original Worms Eat My Garbage. Joe is a Certified Soil Foodweb Advisor; he completed advanced training with Elaine Ingham’s Soil Foodweb System. With Joe on board CSI is able to offer new testing services for biological evaluation of soil, compost, and compost tea.
CSI will also be making a fortified compost blend available to you that has been perfected by Joe which you can now use directly as your “tea bag” no matter your brewer size. CSI will also have very efficient, but inexpensive, proven brewers if you wish to get into the compost tea paradigm with low cost, no hassle, and limited time involvement. On-site consulting services for setting up compost and compost tea production will also be available.
New Microbial Services and Why!
Here is a more detailed explanation of CSI’s new services in Joe’s own words:
First of all, I am proud to become a new part of the great tradition here at CSI. I have known and worked over the past several years with Dr. Phil and Louisa, Sue Hartman, and of course, retired Ron Ward. I am happy to bring what I have learned of soil biology, as well as compost and compost tea technologies, to add to the CSI line of products and services.
CSI’s methods have always centered on soil testing for mineral balance and nutrient availability. Now we are adding biological assessments of soils, composts, and teas. “Qualitative Analyses” testing is based on examination by microscope of your samples to estimate the population, diversity, and quality of the bacteria, fungi, protozoa and nematodes that inhabit the soil and perform much of the work of making nutrients available to the crops, trees or other plants.
Biological soil analysis of this sort gives the grower a baseline from which to gauge the soil’s progress. This baseline will include a fungus to bacteria ratio. This is important since some crops will prefer soils with fungal dominance; others will prefer bacterial dominance, and many prefer the balance to be relatively even. This knowledge will affect the choices of amendments we recommend.
Composts are examined the same way, but here the emphasis is on the density and diversity of the microbes. Compost’s ability to build organic matter, to sequester and release nutrients and moisture can be predicted. Compost tea makers can use this test to check the quality of the compost they plan to use in their brews.
Testing liquid samples, whether an Aerated Compost Tea (ACT) or a Liquid Compost Extract (LCE), is a shorter, simpler process that can gauge the effectiveness of the brew. ACT is a liquid compost extract that is continually aerated for 18-36 hours with microbial foods added to greatly increase the populations and activity of the microorganisms. ACT is very effective as a foliar feed all by itself. It is also a great vehicle for other foliar treatments. It aids in the survivability of the microbes and nutrients on the leaf and other plant surfaces, providing improved disease and insect protection.
After 24 hours of high aeration and with microbial foods added, an Aerated Compost Tea will have much higher populations of very active microbes. Active bacteria and fungi produce compounds and adhesives that keep them from being washed off in foliar applications.
CSI’s new “Brewer Blend,” is a handcrafted blend of compost especially formulated for brewing Compost Teas and Extracts. We will ship the special compost to our growers with instructions on how to activate the compost for effective brewing. Guidance in preparing different recipes for different plants, time of the year, or other situations will always be a part of our continuing grower support program.
LCE is a liquid extraction of the microbes from the compost into a water base. Since there are no extra foods added LCE can be stored for a few days before it must be applied. Soil drenches of larger plots are more easily accomplished with Liquid Compost Extract as production time is shortened (only an hour or two) and the volume output per day can be much greater. In addition, LCE soil drenches are better at bringing the full diversity of microbes from the compost in the tea bag directly to the soil.
Finally, CSI is now offering an efficient, low-cost compost tea brewer, the Bio-Brewer, for our customers. Designed to fit the standard 275-gallon ribbed plastic tote, this brewer has been tested thoroughly. It produces enough aeration/oxygen to keep even extremely microbe-rich brews from going anaerobic. The brewer is easily cleaned and all the parts including the blower are easily serviced or replaceable at low cost. The brewer has a custom-made compost extraction basket that can be removed, making the unit useful for mixing many of the soluble powders and liquids that CSI recommends for various growing needs. We are also offering a 5-gallon compost tea brewer for smaller growers and greenhouse operators; this brewer can create enough tea to treat up to a quarter acre of soil or an acre of foliar application. Other brewers (30gal, 50gal, 100gal) will be available in the coming months.
I am excited to be bringing these new products and services to the CSI customers CSI. Here’s why…
Did You Ever Wonder How Forests Turn Themselves Green Every Spring Without Adding Any Nitrogen Fertilizers?
Mother Nature and millions of years of evolution has produced a growing system that works in every corner of the world and does not need man or his inputs. Plants developed photosynthesis, a process of transforming sunlight into sugars, carbohydrates, and proteins. Some of this “food” is stored in the plant to help fund the plant’s growth, but 40-60% of what is produced this way is sent through the roots and into the soil (root exudates.) The plant does this to attract bacteria to the root zone to feed on the free munchies. Bacteria have a Carbon/Nitrogen ratio of 5-1 making them the most Nitrogen dense living organisms on the planet. So the plant is attracting Nitrogen to the root zone; but the Nitrogen in the bacteria is unavailable to the plant.
This is where the microscopic creatures called protozoa do their thing. Protozoa are predators of bacteria; however, they have a very different Carbon/Nitrogen ratio of 30-1. This means that in order to get 30 units of Carbon from the bacteria, a protozoa will need to eat 6 bacteria. This will leave him with 5 extra units of Nitrogen that he just doesn’t need. When the protozoa excrete the excess N, the Nitrogen has been transformed into a soluble form that is quickly taken up by the nearby root hair. Since each protozoa can consume about 10,000 bacteria per day, and there can be 50,000 protozoa in each gram of soil; there will be plenty of Nitrogen available for the plant.
Fungi…The Mineral Suppliers!
Bacteria consume and metabolize the minerals in the soil around them. Protozoa, nematodes, microarthropods, etc. eat the bacteria and poop out waste products containing small amounts of these minerals in soluble form for the plant roots nearby. These amounts are not near as great as the amount of Nitrogen released this way, because the bacteria themselves are about 20% Nitrogen. The primary movers of minerals from the sand, silt, and clay of the soil are the fungi.
Mycorrhizal fungi actually invade (grow into plant cell walls) of most plants and receive sugars, carbs, and proteins directly from the plant. In return, the plants receive the nutrition they need from the solubilized minerals that the fungi scour from their surroundings, effectively expanding the root zone for the plant. (Fungi can bring a plants missing mineral from hundreds of feet away!)
Other fungi that do not invade the root, do colonize around plant roots and partake of the plant’s root exudates provided for them. These fungi will exude some mineral compounds in the plant root area but when the fungal strands die off from time to time or are eaten by bacteria and nematodes, etc. they will release a lot of minerals around the roots. Since much of the cell wall structure of the miles and miles of fungal strands are made up of Calcium, having a good fungal biomass in the soil around plants will help ensure constant and adequate Calcium resources for the plant.
Today’s agricultural practice (fertilizers, herbicides, pesticides, tillage and GMOs) can disturb this natural system of nutrient cycling. Inorganic fertilizers are basically salts that dry out the bacteria that congregate around plant roots. Herbicides and pesticides kill much of the beneficial microbe population. Tillage rips apart the extensive fungal networks in the soil, and GMO plants can produce altered exudates that will not attract the soil life or feed them properly. With low populations and less diversity of “worker” microbes in the root zone, the crop needs the farmer’s input of soluble plant food. These salts further diminish the soil life creating an ever-growing chemical dependency.
We can use this knowledge of the importance of microbes to improve a field that is regularly running out of mineral nutrients. CSI recommends boosting the life in the soil with applications of Organic Fish, SeaCrop 16 (seaweed) and molasses that feed the microbes whom shuttle nutrients to the plants. We also recommend microbial packages that can perform specific functions such as Nitrogen-fixing or disease suppression to boost this year’s crop without adversely affecting the other life forms. These cultured microbes represent less than 1% of all the species that live in the soil and on the foliage. So in order to replenish the whole soil foodweb we now suggest inoculating the soil with high and diverse populations of microorganisms by way of compost and especially compost tea. This way we can re-establish the proper biological balance and achieve a self-sustaining crop year after year – just like in the forest.
WHY WE RECOMMEND THE PROCESSES AND PRODUCTS THAT WE DO:
We spend hours each day talking to growers that call in from all over US & Canada and a few from overseas. They usually have had a recent soil test and need some help understanding what the test is telling them and why we are making the recommendations that they have in front of them. Even though most of CSI’s theories of how to recover a soil are in the Non-Toxic Farming Handbook and on the internet at our website in years of back newsletters, we as humans can only retain so much. We need reminders of what concepts should guide our decisions concerning “recovering” our soils which is another way of saying that you are converting to more sustainable or organic practices.
Since minerals are the basis of life, it makes sense to deal with them first. It is amazing and perhaps disconcerting to see that nature is able to produce foodstuffs of all types even though the end product is not fit to eat because of the lack of minerals. Actually it is humans that allow this by using toxic rescue chemistry to bring sub-standard crops to harvest and then onto our plate. Dr. Albrecht’s CEC (Cation Exchange Capacity) method of mineral balancing techniques has proven the concept all over the world. However, we also know that healthy food can be grown with reasonable balances at less than optimum levels or through the use of low level, immediate applications of minerals in starters, sidedresses or foliars.
We suggest you start out correcting the calcium first. Lime is the cheapest fertilizer available. A recent article is Graze, Vol. 19, No. 9, Nov. 12 stated the following, “A dollar invested in a calcium-based fertilizer program on the dairy grazing paddocks of a California research farm produced an estimated $1.55 in additional income with most of that additional profit coming from the improved forage quality”. Yet you still have beef graziers putting out articles to the affect that the manure, urine and hoof action is all you need to recover your soil, produce nutritious forage and raise nutrient dense meat. The other point I noticed in the article is that the cost of the fertilizer program seemed excessive. They used the term “calcium based fertilizer” which would indicate a blend based on lime. Blending base minerals is always more costly, which is why CSI asks you to spread basic unblended minerals such as lime, gypsum, TN Brown Phosphate, Sulfate of Potash (0-0-50), KS+, K-Mag, etc., which are already created by nature and just need a little help from man in grinding, shifting or pelletizing for easy use. The only place we recommend blending by another party is when trying to spread one of more trace minerals or using a starter. Blending trace minerals with pelletized gypsum to make enough volume for spreading justifies costs or, if you are buying some other amendment from your local elevator that they are going to spread anyway, such as ammonium sulfate, K-Mag or 0-0-50, have them blend in the trace elements before spreading.
But calcium has to have support! So you have to work right on through the N-P-K-Mg-S major minerals and on to the normal trace minerals, trying to bring each up to desired levels. If you can’t make the broadcast applications to replace large quantities of any of the major or trace minerals, or even if you do, we urge you to use our suspendable line of ground major minerals with microbes as starters, sidedresses and foliars along with Organo Fish and SeaCrop 16 to continue the crop support throughout the season. Use the 5-6 touch system we outlined in the Aug. 2012 newsletter. We were working on trying to get a liquid or dry organic trace mineral package that can be used the same way, but an observant dealer pointed out that an organic inspector might insist that you have a known soil deficiency of each of the minerals in the blend. That flies in the face of logic on the part of the inspector, since we know that heavy draw down of certain traces can occur at any stage of growth and normal soil content and transfer through the plant may not be enough at those specifics times. So we urge you to cover the bases with bold broadcast applications of the traces that you are short and maybe save some product to put in the row or use as a foliar later. Remember, about 95% of the samples you submit to CSI are seriously short of Boron (movement of calcium) and Zinc (growth factor) and most are short of Copper (anti-fungal and bark stretch) and Sulfur (utilization of N and heat stress reduction).
CSI does have a powdered, soluble Zinc available; Solubor, Fertibor or household Borax are readily available soluble products that provide the Boron, but with the other traces there can still be a problem sourcing a nice soluble powder. Please tell us if you would like to have sources of 500 mesh (soluble) powders of Iron, Copper, Manganese and Sulfur to broadcast or use in-row or foliar. Cobalt and Molybdenum are other possibilities for soluble powders. CSI may have some of the above available by spring of 13.
Sulfur is a negative ion (sulfate SO42−). The higher your humus level, the more sulfate you can store. Sulfur is critical for efficient use of N and the forming of the higher chain amino acids. Livestock need S in their forages to relieve heat stress. Use elemental Sulfur (S) as a last resort. Gypsum, 0-0-50, 21-0-0-23S, KS+, and sulfate based trace minerals are all better sources because the Sulfur is in the oxidized form that plants need for uptake. Excess Sulfur is rare, but I ran into it in Costa Rica in ornamentals. The plants started rotting in the container on the way to Europe. Found out that K-Mag worked well years back, so they just kept applying it. Tissue samples verified the overuse problem. Please test soils and tissue periodically. Because tissue testing is time limited, we suggest using the closest or fastest lab available. CSI will gladly do your soil testing.
Boron is a special situation. It has the potential to be toxic to seed if placed directly on the seed. We suggest trying to get it on in the fall or early spring. We suggest mixing it with a humic acid product such as Water Mineral (fulvic acid) to prevent it from leaching as it is prone to do. It is a negative borate ion, so it doesn’t stick to the clay colloids. If you are above 4 % organic matter, that may be enough humus content to hold the Boron without the additional humic acid. During droughts, when the top 6 inches of soil are dry, Boron uptake may be severely compromised. Foliar feed (include boron) prior to, during and after a drought if you can. Add it to your usual foliar spray mixture.
Sodium is essential to a complete CEC complex. Sodium can add to ERGS or soluble salts readings. That means it helps provides a push or flow of nutrients in the soil solution. Animals do much better with Sodium coming through plant material, even though they can & do digest raw salt. Vegetables with good Sodium and brix levels become good tasting foods instead of being rejected by kids and adults. When we recommend “mineral salt”, we mean you can use products like Redmond Salt, Sea Salt or plain old feed salt (sodium chloride) if that is all you can source.
Nitrogen is also a special situation. Excess nitrates are a major cause of reduced or diluted Brix, which can result in susceptibility to disease, insects, drought and weakened recovery response to weather damage. Why would anyone deliberately continue to use N sources that rapidly convert to excess nitrates? Nature will always give you some nitrate for early growth from your soil organic matter due to warming temperatures and increased microbial activity. Your chemical neighbor’s corn may jump out faster than yours in a nice warm season, but any future stress conditions will do his crop a lot more harm than yours. Also, in a lousy spring, his seed will sit there because nothing is being released, the standard seed is lacking in carbohydrates/energy while your seed is hopefully plumper and full of energy (buy high germination rate seed) and your row support (seed treatment and starter) is going to kick in, in spite of the lousy conditions.
Our program of Organo Fish, Bioplin, SeaCrop 16 and Living Stone ground mineral fertilizers can provide all your Nitrogen needs as written up in the fall 2011 newsletter. Why would you tie yourself to traditional N products that are dependent on oil, mostly produced outside the US and require lots of energy (oil/electricity/coal) to make?
Phosphorus is unique in that all other elements going into your plant, except Nitrogen, must be bio-frequency associated with phosphate in order for them to go to the right part of the plant. (You want Manganese going into your blossoms to make seeds which are then nurtured by the fruit that surrounds them, you also want the Magnesium going to form the chlorophyll molecules in the leaves and so forth.) Why would you short yourself of something that critical? Even if you appear to have lots of Phosphorus on a CEC test, it is usually tied up with Calcium, making it one of the most difficult major minerals to get into a plant. The LaMotte test usually shows a lot less available to the plant. That’s why we ask that you use NutriTech, (Phosphorus releasing microbes.) and the Living Stone starters that contain mycorrhizal fungi that greatly enhance the area and efficiency of Phosphorus scavenging by your roots. Mycorrhizal fungi also scavenge for moisture.
One of the biggest factors allowing disease organisms to survive or overwinter in you soil is the presence of undigested plant residue. That is why we suggest the use of Crop Recycle or Complete (which contains Crop Recycle) each fall or early spring. These products can be supplemented with Organo Fish and molasses or sugar to stimulate the microbes, especially beneficial fungi, to efficiently break down crop stubble into valuable humus.
When spring arrives, microbes wake-up slowly . This is when the addition of full spectrum microbial packages like Infusion can make a dramatic difference in crop response. (Complete also contains Infusion.) Ongoing support of microbial systems by side dressing and foliar feeding throughout the season is also proving to pay off in disease resistance, quality and yield. That is why CSI encourages you to start considering compost teas to be applied by drip, sidedress, fertigation or foliar, especially on high value crops, whether in green houses or fields. CSI sees compost teas as a potential breakthrough for western provinces or anywhere (North Dakota) where acreage is large, seasons are short and relatively low yields make it a tough go.
In simple terms, fill in the missing elements by bulk application that your soil test indicates are missing and/or use products on a yearly basis that cover the shortages on a short term basis. Add new microbes and keep everything bio-activated from spring through to crop residue breakdown & right to ground freeze. Microbes will continue to work under a nice insulating blanket of snow. If your soils really are bioactive, and/or rich in humus that holds ammonium ions, they will go dormant much later than your neighbors’ and will wake up earlier in the spring as well. Read & re-read every article in the Oct. 2012 issue of Acres about minerals and biology to verify our approach.
WORRIED ABOUT FROST? SEACROP16…SEA WEED TO THE RESCUE? Research going back to the 60’s shows that seaweed extracts can lower survival temperatures in most crops. Just apply 1-2 pints/acre as late as the afternoon before the expected frost. Add 2-4 quarts of molasses and you have one of best internal frost protections available. Any fruit or vegetable grower would be wise to purchase and have SeaCrop16 on hand early. If no frost, you have it for your regular seasonal foliars. Got mite problems? Research from the 60’s also shows that seaweed reducing the breeding rate of mites, affects the egg development, and is actually more effective than miticides which kill predatory mites.
DROUGHTPROOFING: Things that help: No-till, fall tillage with just a “fitting” in the spring; making a narrow slit in the soil under or near the row for the roots to grow down; seed treatments; use protein nitrogen like Organo Fish; maintain a lively soil food web with microbes and food to support them; foliar feeding before, during and after droughts and using no chemicals that weaken or stress the plant.
SAVE SOME MONEY: Our Premium Seed Treatment has rhizobium organisms that inoculate soybeans for N fixation already in the product along with the mycorrhizal fungi and other organisms and food sources to support them. No need to buy a separate inoculum. If all you can obtain is “orange” coated seed (Fungicides that kill the very organisms you are trying to encourage), try to wash most of it off and dispose of residue correctly.
CSI is also adding ½lb packets of micronized Soluble Kelp for small growers who don’t wish to purchase a 2½ gallon SeaCrop 16 and ½lb packets of soluble micronized humate instead of a gallon of Water Mineral. Remember that kelp/seaweed is very synergistic with fish (they each enhance or improve the other’s performance) and that humic acids should be used when applying Boron to prevent leaching. Humic acid also chelates soil and foliar nutrients, making them more efficient and effective. See price list for instructions.
SAVE MONEY ON FREIGHT: We have 5 g cases of SeaCrop16 (seaweed) stored at the Organo Fish factory in Illinois, so you can add cases to your barrel & tote fish orders and only pay a few pennies in extra freight. A pint of SeaCrop16 in the row for any crop is essential for immune system building, uniformity of and increased seed/head/fruit set and frost resistance. You can still get single 2½’s from CSI or order direct shipped cases from CSI if you’re not buying Organo Fish.
SPEAKING OF FISH: We have a good supply of Organo Fish this year (last year the supply tank was ruptured and we had to start the year with other fish.) Please order/pre-order your fish for spring as soon as you can to insure you have it when you need it. If you pre-order you would still pay on a net 20 after fish is shipped if you are a credit customer.
WHAT SHOULD I USE AS A STARTER?: CSI usually recommends Complete (4 products in one @ the 2 lb rate/acre as a starter along with Organo-Fish, SeaCrop16, Bioplin (N Fixing Microbes), NutriTech (Phos Releasing Microbes) & molasses on high value, intensive crops. For broad acre row or drilled crops, we suggest SeaStar (4-2-5-4Ca-2S-1Mg @ the ½ lb rate) along with Organo-Fish, SeaCrop 16, Bioplin & NutriTech. [SeaStar contains micro-organisms that increase the activity of Organo Fish.] Use can also use SeaStar at ¼– ½ lb/acre as a foliar along with the usual NutriFoliar, fish, seaweed, and molasses. To follow the concepts of Dr. Reams more closely, we encourage you to use the Growth Plus, Bloom Set, or Jackpot at the growth, reproductive and filling/finishing stages in place of Sea Star. Growers of everything from grain to fruits and vegetables are reporting amazing disease suppression when using the Growth Plus!
THE MOST IMPORTANT TIPS FOR USING OUR MICRONIZED LIVING STONE LINE: Water has a surface tension measured in dynes. You can observe the phenomena when you carefully overfill a glass of water and see that it stays above the rim. The micronized mineral and microbe mixtures have to overcome that tension to get fully dissolved. The easiest way to do that is to add and mix in a non-ionic surfactant or wetting agent to the water before attempting to add any Living Stone product. I use about 1 drop of dish soap to a gallon of water for my yard sprayer. For commercial use, go by the low end of the label rate per gallon or acre of the surfactant purchased. Organic growers have their choices of Nu Film from Miller Chemical or Amway(?) or Shaklee(?) or other(?) products. Blend the dry products in and then circulate thoroughly in the sprayer or use something like a compost tea brewer. Even though a Living Stone label may suggest brewing the product over time, it is not necessary to do so for effective application. The Premium Seed Treatment is best used dry directly in the planter box.
WEED CONTROL: CSI’s original weed control formula was 2 gallons of molasses and 2 gallons of liquid Calcium chelate in 20 gallons of water sprayed on top of the soil as soon as possible after last disturbance of soil by any implement including the planter. This works because the available Calcium tells the grass seeds that they are not needed and the molasses, which activates bacteria that release Phosphorus, tells the broadleaf weed seed that they are not needed. Astute farmers rigged up booms behind the planter connected to a saddle tank to plant and treat all in one pass. Separate passes must be as soon as possible and after 24 hours, forget It! You can also use the formulas at reduced rates to keep suppression going through the season in low growing crops.
CSI now has at least 4 options for the material used with the 2 gallons of molasses: Regular liquid Calcium chelate & organic liquid Calcium chelate (used at the 2 gallon rate) & PhosCal 22 liquid and Premium Cal 33 liquid (used at the 2 qt rate). A California rice grower reported total control of Water Grass in one of his paddies using the above.
SMARTER THAN A 5TH GRADER?: Plants continue to amaze scientists. Tests show that cabbage plants can discern the difference between the eggs of moths laid on their leaves that present a danger versus moths that really won’t thrive or damage the cabbage and then send out signal chemicals with appropriate responses. I hope your not feeding your plants “simplistic N-P-K fertilizers, followed by toxic rescue chemistry”.
CSI & “BROADCASTERS”: CSI has decided to cease offering any kind of “field broadcasters” for a variety of reasons. The biggest reason is a lack of time to install or service them. You may contact us for referrals to other distributors and installers.
CELL PHONE RADIATION: The potential danger from excessive exposure to cell phone radiation is back in the news (including the Oct. Acres). Young developing brains are especially sensitive. Dual technology Cell Guards are a must for teens who “live” on their devices. We have them in stock at the office.