Regenerative Agriculture Podcast

Season 2 Kickoff with Don Huber

Season 2 Kickoff with Don Huber

Feb 16, 2019


Hi Friends!

Welcome to Season 2 of The Regenerative Agriculture Podcast!

Thank you for listening, spreading the word, and helping to make this show such a hit, while expanding our community in the fast-growing regenerative agriculture movement.

It is my honor to be part of this community along with you as we launch Season 2 of this show.

For this season-opening episode, we are immeasurably pleased to bring Dr. Don Huber back again, sharing more of his wealth of accumulated knowledge. Don was our first guest on the show in Season 1, and you can listen to the first-ever Regenerative Agriculture Podcast episode with Don, here.

Dr. Don Huber is a leading plant pathologist, Professor Emeritus at Purdue University, and prolific author, contributor, or editor of more than 300 published academic writings and three books.

For more than 50 years, Don has been a renowned researcher and principal voice in the field of crop-plant pathology, especially as it relates to the overlapping spheres of mineral fertility and microbial ecology.

As a research partner, consultant or advisor, he has contributed to work in more than a dozen countries and been awarded numerous honors and awards for his copious scientific contributions.

Critical among these, has been his work in: nitrogen efficiency; nitrification inhibitors; plant and microbial metabolite interactions; development of aminopeptidase profiling, whereby unknown micro-organisms can be rapidly identified and then cultured, by their amino acid profile; and copious work vastly furthering the understanding of mineral/ microbe/ disease/ herbicide interaction.

There are some heavy science topics in this show that may compel your own further research. But no matter what or where you grow, there are some truly high-value practicalities laid out in this conversation.

This all makes him a really exciting guest to have on the show.

In this episode, listen as Dr. Don Huber covers the following and more:

  • Reducing vs. non-reducing sugars and the role they play in energy storage and metabolism.
  • High levels of reducing sugars (glucose and fructose) are an attractant of insects and disease.
  • Manganese is an enzyme cofactor for the sucrose phosphate synthase enzyme that converts glucose and fructose.
  • Reducing sugars are exuded from roots, attracting pythium, Phytophthora, actinomycetes, oomycetes. Non-reducing sugars are less exuded and a poorer food source for these organisms.
  • Most soil pathogens remain dormant and harmless until activated by external nutrient sources. The grower can control this.
  • In disease suppressive soils, soil bacteria colonize the resting structures of dormant fungal or oomycete spores, causing fungistasis, keeping them dormant. Reducing sugars, as root exudates, disrupt this suppression by giving bacteria a more ready food source.
  • Airborne pathogens are also attracted to a deficient nutrient profile of the above-ground plant parts.
  • Rusts require an exogenous source of Zinc on the leaf surface for spores to germinate.
  • Siderophores can be prevented by antibiotics, nutritional integrity, and immune responses.
  • Some early fungicides did not affect the fungus, but rather the amino acid profile of the plant, denying the fungus its food source. Apple Scab example.
  • Aminopeptidase profiling that Don developed. Not directly practicable for farmers, but a fascinating and now commonly used lab practice, in microbiological research.
  • Nitrogen is not just N, from the periodic table.
  • Ammonium, Nitrate and Amino Nitrogen must be considered as unique substances, that affect systems differently and should be used differently.
  • Molybdenum’s role in the Nitrate Reductase enzyme functioning, and other details on nitrogen conversion and storage.
  • Ammonium is the most efficient form of Nitrogen for corn and wheat.
  • Nitrate requires 12-16% of all sugars just to convert to a plant usable form.
  • Ammonia, however, cannot be stored and must be metabolized as its taken up, which can be stressful for very small plants.
  • Efficient urea use and its reliance on the relatively abundant urease enzyme to hydrolyze ammonia.

At the end of the show, Don gives this reminder:

“It’s truly remarkable how everything is integrated to such a dynamic degree that it all relates together… Just look at the whole picture and make sure that we're meeting the needs of the plant… We need to look for the specific elements, but recognize that they're all part of an integrated system.” ~Don Huber

For more reading of Dr. Huber’s work, view his selected bibliography and further bio.

Be sure to check out the links below as I have some exciting announcements to make!


John and The Regenerative Agriculture Podcast team at AEA



I am excited to announce that, in alignment with my mission of making regenerative agriculture the new standard for agriculture, and due to popular demand, I am opening an online academy, the Regen.Ag Academy! The first course is entitled Precision Ag Nutrition Management, offering powerful and engaging information, along with 2 CEUs upon completion. We will be launching soon so signup for our Regen.Ag Academy email list here.

In the introduction section of this episode, you will hear the amazing Seth Godin (author of 18 best-selling books) mention his new Business of Food Workshop. It is worth checking out. I find a terrific amount of value in Seth's workshops.

If you are a large-scale grower of corn, popcorn, pinto beans, or other grains and broadacre crops, I welcome you to attend an event I will be hosting on February 27, The Regenerative Soil and Plant Health Academy and AEA grower lunch in Garden City, Kansas. Click here to learn more. Hope to see you there!




Support For This Show

This show is brought to you by AEA, leaders in regenerative agriculture since 2006.

If you are a large-scale grower looking to increase crop revenue and quality, email or call 800-495-6603 extension 344 to be connected with a dedicated AEA crop consultant.


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This episode was Directed by Geoffrey Shively and Nathan Harman, Edited by Nathan Harman, Produced by Nathan Harman, Jenna Sodano, Robin Kitowski, and Anna Kempf.