Notes for Foundation Courses. Lecture 11 – Weeds & Succession (Part 1)

Notes for Foundation Courses. Lecture 11 – Weeds & Succession (Part 1)

Quiz results

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Some videos that touches on today's lecture.

Now this is quite interesting @jonyoudyer. Freaking Chris trump goes over a lot of what Elaine talks about in this lecture in this video. He talks about his experiences playing around with F:B ratios in his cannabis soils. It has been quite a long time since I have talked with Chris so Sunday will be interesting if I do help him move. It certainly seems as though he has been trying to incorporate Elaine's science with his KNF knowledge.

When a ecosystem comparison of different systems was conducted Elaine found that:

Organisms in the soil set the stage for different plants to grow.

Lowest to highest ranking ecosystems in productivity/ food web structure. Fungal counts increased to become more 1:1 as this list progresses.

  • Irrigated Wheat

    • the most Disturbed and tilled
    • Herbicides/ pesticides added.
    • Only bacteria in food web and usually low in numbers
    • no organic matter added
    • lowest ranked system
      *Weeds are present
  • Dryland wheat

    • No pesticides or any chemicals added
    • Tilled and seed add and that is it each season
    • The only disturbance is tilling
    • still only bacteria and in slightly higher numbers
    • Weeds are present and usually in high numbers
    • no irrigation
  • Short grass prairie

    • most of the soil surface is covered in various different species of plants
    • little rainfall so little disturbance
    • Lack of rainfall is limiting the soil progression
    • we start to see more diversity in biology i.e. fungi, protozoa etc. but not in high numbers
    • increased fungi
    • little to no weeds
    • beneficial nematodes start to become present
    • good levels of decomposition
  • Tall grass prairie

    • More rainfall is observed
    • 8'-10' tall grass
    • good levels of biology observed
    • increased fungi
    • little to no weeds
    • really good levels of protozoas and nematodes
    • high levels of decomposition
  • High mountain Meadows

    • Great levels of soil web web diversity i.e. bacteria, fungi, protozoa and increased numbers of larger predators like arthropods and nematodes etc.
    • Great levels of species of plants
    • But livestock impacted the environment but constant grazing
    • high levels of decomposition
  • Lodgepole pine forest

    • Climax community in rocky mountains
    • High diversity and numbers in species of the soil food web organisms
    • The most rapid rates of decomposition happens in the winter time usually under the snow
    • No weeds
    • Little to No disturbances
    • The most fungal soils have no weeds.
    • high levels of decomposition
  • The most rapidly levels of decomposition happens in the winter under snow.

Lots of research has been conducted on various ecosystems. Thousands of examples of success following Elaine's methods and her research. Reduced costs and increased yields.

When Fungal to bacteria ratios were balanced to 1:1 Elaine has seen:

  • a 2x increase in livestock weight with animals that grazed on pastures with 1:1 F:B ratios vs unbalanced pastures that were more bacterial dominate

  • A 2x increase of production in yields with cash crops such as oats, wheat, alfalfa when the soil had 1:1 F:B ratios etc. vs Bacterial dominated systems.

    • Increasing the fungal biomass will increase productivity

    • Using plate sampling to determine soil health is the conventional way to determine soil health. This is not efficient nor is it effective. Shadow microscopy is the way to determine soil health, crop and livestock productivity by looking at F:B ratios; not plate index counts.

What F:B ratios does your plant need?

  • Bare plant material i.e. weeds (early successional stage)

    • 100% bacterial
  • Algae, cyanobacteria, true bacteria, protozoa, fungi, nematodes, microarthropods. (soil food web developing)

    • F:B- 0.001
  • Weeds - High nitrogen and lack of oxygen

    • F:B- 0.1
  • Early grasses- Brassicas, mustards

    • F:B- 0.3
  • Mid-grasses, Vegetables

    • F:B- 0.75
  • Late successional grass species and row crops ( row crops, barley, oats, corn etc.)

    • F:B- 0.75 to 1:1
  • Shrubs, vines and bushes

    • F:B- 2:1 to 5:1 ratio
  • Deciduous trees

    • F:B- 5:1 to 100:1
  • Conifer, old growth forests. The most productive ecosystem on the planet

    • F:B 100:1 to 1000:1
    • We will find the largest organism on the planet will be found here. Fungal bio mat.

Soil biological succession causes plant succession.

  • What drives succession? The change in the biology in the soil.
  • What drives the change in the biology in the soil? The plants.
  • What drives plant succession? Biology does.
  • The above process is called a bootstrapping system.

As we go from mostly bacteria systems (low productivity) to fungai dominated systems (Most productive systems) we see an increase in soil food web organisms.

75% of the weight of the most productive soil on the plant is fungal biomass

Types of nitrogen produced by the bacteria changes as F:B ratios change.

  • Bacteria 10 micro grams per gram of soil (0 fungi)- 0:10.

    • NO3 is produced
  • Few fungi, 10 micrograms per gram of soil of fungi to 100 micrograms of bacteria per gram of soil- 10:100- 250:500

    • NO3 is produced
  • Balanced 1:1 F:B ratios- 600:600.

    • No3 & NH4 is produced
  • More fungi- Fungi dominated 8000:650- 70,000-700.

    • NH4 is produced

Why isn't everything an old growth forest?

  • Disturbances

    • Air pollutants
    • Clearcutting, thinning
    • Compaction
    • fertilizers
    • pesticides
    • herbicides
    • temperature (freeze/thaw)
    • moisture (wet/dry)
    • tillage (intensity, repetition, timing)
    • crop (monoculture, intercropping)
    • organic matter (timing, type, placement)

Be Part of the Soil-ution!


How to develop knowledge and a career in regenerative agriculture with the Soil Food Web School!

From Dr. Elaine Ingham B.A. M.S. Ph.D

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