In a 2018 documentary “The Most Unknown” leading microbiologist and Penn State Geoscientist, Jennifer Macalady expressed just how much we don’t know about the tiny universe of microbes and other micro life forms all around us. She estimates that there could be 35 Trillion different species of microbes on earth and we have only identified a million or so different species. It is almost as if we look under our feet or above our heads at the stars and we are looking at a vast unknown. That brings us to the all important soil microbes, a tiny quarter teaspoon of soil can contain a billions of cells and even 10,000 to 50,000 different species of microbes. We are just scratching the surface and beginning to understand this seemingly endless universe under our feet but it can play an enormous role in growing healthy and productive plants.
Lets touch on what we do know, that soil health and the life inside that soil is critical to growing healthy organic plants that thrive. We have learned that many of these microbes work with the plants roots and each other to benefit growth in a number of ways. That fine threads of mycorrhizal attach to the roots of plants to help feed them nutrients and moisture in ways not understood before the past decade. The richest and most healthy soils on the planet are absolutely loaded with life that forms a symbiotic relationship with our plants. That this microscopic ecosystem in the ground can digest nutrients into forms that are much better absorbed by our plants. These little miracle workers can also help protect plants from pathogens and other health threats that crop up through modern farming practices. Through genetic sequencing of soil microorganism we have gained a better understanding of how they grow, how they work together and how to reintroduce them into the soil. We also have a clear understanding that many of the modern farming practices of the last century have done great damage to our soils. Much of these practices have introduced chemicals, fungicides, herbicides & pesticides that have decimated all life in our soils, often trading short term gains for long term destruction. Understanding that this life is essential to growing larger yields and improving plant health will be a key ingredient to producing healthier foods, cleaning up our environment and preventing dust bowl like conditions on our precious agricultural acreage.
This where we at Denali BioSolutions are trying to help change the way growers and farmers think about soil and fertilizers. Instead of trying to kill everything in our soils with synthetics we want to introduced extremely large numbers of beneficial biologic life to help enhance what already works in nature. Instead of attacking negative life like pathogens, insects and other plant diseases we want to fight life with life by adding more of the positive microbes to our soils. This life works in ways not fully understood by science but the results and wide spread testing is starting to show these benefits. Just about every higher education institution, agricultural scientist and soil biologist across the country are in agreement that saving our soils is the key to better and healthier plants and the key to grow better and healthier foods. We have a ways to go to learns the finer points of soil health but finally after years of soil degradation and agriculture related pollution we may be on the right track.