The Best Way To Build Organic Matter Fast During The Winter
by John Kempf, Founder of AEA
August 24, 2016
In regenerative agriculture systems, spring begins in the fall. Both annual and perennial crops have their most important Critical Points of Influence (CPIs) in the spring.
For annual crops, the most important stage is at planting and transplanting. For perennial crops, the most important stage is at blossoming and pollination. These stages are critical, especially from a plant health perspective.
Susceptibility for potential disease or insect pressure later on in the growing season is set up at this stage. Providing optimum nutrition at this stage can have more of an impact on yield and quality than almost anything else we can do.
The short term solution is to utilize plant nutritional supplements to supply the plant's immediate needs, to band-aid any nutritional shortfalls, and to circumvent any potential disease or insect challenges.
The real answer in a systems-based model is to have an active soil microbial community release large reserves of plant-available nutrition in the fall and over the winter months for rapid plant absorption in the spring.
The vitality and vigor of plants in the spring is determined by the activity of the soil microbial community in the fall.
A successful model begins with intensifying microbial activity in the fall. In our systems, we utilize the fall regenerative soil health primer that consists of three products—Rejuvenate™, Seashield™, and Spectrum™ to provide crops with a head start in the spring.
The microbiome is an incredibly complex microbial community that has evolved unique symbiotic relationships with plants.
There are two fundamentally different types of digestive processes occurring in soil systems. In bacterially dominated soils the rapid digestion and release of nutrients is referred to as mineralization. In the mineralization process bacteria digest root exudates and carbon crop residues which have a narrow nitrogen carbon ratio. In this digestive process, they extract minerals from the soil mineral matrix and utilize them to build their own bodies. As their bodies are recycled the minerals are released for plant absorption.
In a fungal dominated soil, saprophytic fungi decompose crop residues and complex organic material. Fungi are the primary microbes that have the capacity to digest lipids. This fungal digestive process is referred to as humification. The humification process is how we can build soil organic matter quickly and efficiently on a large scale.