Farming is often seen as an extractive process, depleting nutrient reserves from the soil with each harvest. However, by understanding the role of biology in building organic matter and nutrient availability, we can grow profitable crops and regenerate the soil.
The Impact of Farming Methods on Soil Microbiology
Modern farming practices, such as tillage, herbicide and chemical fertilizer use, and crop selection, can have a profound impact on soil microbiology. The accompanying degradation of the soil microbiome leads to stressed and diseased plants that require a constant need for off-farm fertility inputs.
Crops like wheat, soybeans, and GMO corn promote an oxidizing microbiome, leading to excessive oxidative activity that results in the loss of organic matter and soil mineral depletion. In contrast, plants like oats, sorghum, and non-GMO corn promote a reducing microbiome, which is essential for soil health and long-term sustainability.
Understanding Humification and Microbial Mineralization
Humification is a slow, cool-temperature process driven by fungal digestion of lipids and lignified crop residues. This process results in stable humic substances that cannot be further degraded. The formation of long-chain carbon structures during humification, along with the microbiology involved, is what transforms dirt into fertile soil. It’s the resting, rejuvenating phase of soil microbial activity.
Microbial mineralization, on the other hand, occurs in warm soils. Bacteria metabolize carbohydrates from root exudates or green organic materials, such as cover crops. This leads to rapid mineralization, releasing mineral components for crop growth. However, this process doesn’t sequester soil carbon like humification does. The biology involved in mineralization is like a workout mode, actively providing nutrients for the growing crops.
The Regenerative Soil Primer
At AEA, we emphasize the significance of applying the Regenerative Soil Primer after harvest. This application helps replenish soluble carbon reserves through cold-weather digestion and humification. This provides a substantial period for microbial growth and residue digestion without disruptions from tillage, compaction, or herbicides. This calm and cold period sets the stage for maximizing soil carbon reserves in preparation for the upcoming growing season.
As spring approaches and temperatures rise, the soil shifts from fungal humification to bacterial mineralization. The deconstruction of long-chain carbon structures provides an energy source for the crops. This transition benefits not only macronutrients like nitrogen and phosphorus but also a range of mineral nutrients that add value to your farming operation.
Whether your goal is to boost microbial populations, enhance crop residue digestion, or reduce the risk of overwintering diseases, the application of Regenerative Soil Primer can help unlock the nutrients necessary for crop quality and disease resistance. Adding BioCoat Gold to your application will promote early seedling health, root system development, and overall stand vigor for fall-plant cover crops and cereal grains.
AEA’s Regenerative Soil Primer is a trio of products that can be tank-mixed as a single application to keep your soil teeming with biological activity. Here’s what each product brings to the table:
- Rejuvenate™: Provides long-lasting support for a successful inoculation event and ongoing energy for microbes in various conditions.
- SeaShield™: Offers amino acid nitrogen support for the growth of beneficial fungal populations, often lacking in farmed soils, contributing significantly to fertility cycling.
- Spectrum™: Enhances and restores beneficial soil microbe populations, augmenting the natural mineralization processes occurring in healthy soils.