|Image - Nature.com|
|Image - USDA|
|Image from Treehugger|
|Image - Gabe Brown|
The photo on the right is North Dakota farmer and rancher Gabe Brown who stands at the forefront of the regenerative agriculture movement which concentrates on soil health first. He is best known for popularizing the concept of using multiple species of both annuals and especially perennials for cover crops and mycorrhizal cocktails as a key strategy for jumpstarting soil biology health and nourishing mycorrhizal fungi native communities. After a heavy downpour his District Conservation officer from NRCS came out and estimated his infiltration rate at over 8 inches an hour, where compared with most industrial ag run farms runoff occurs at 1/2 inch.
|Image from Gabe Brown|
Gabe Brown had a third-party company he hired to test the soil's organic content. The company is called “Cedar Basin Crop Consulting in Decorah, IA” managed by Shannon Gomes. All his fields on the ranch ranged from 4.5 to 7.5 percent organic matter. He has one field with 11.1 percent. Not bad starting @ 1.9 percent organic matter. Gabe has said many times that his soils are degraded, but vastly improved after feeding the soil biology properly by replicating nature. Below is a chart he had made.
|Image from Gabe Brown|
|Image- Stephen Zehetner|
Importance of Soil Temperature & the effects on Plant Root Systems growth
140 degrees, soil bacteria die 130 degrees, 100% moisture lost through evaporation and transpiration 100 degrees, 15% moisture is used for growth, 85% moisture lost through evaporation and transpiration 70 degrees, 100% moisture used for growth
My first hand experience with the bullet points listed above utilizing Mulch 😉
|Courtesy of Peter Smallidge|
From 1985 until 2002 I owned some acreage up in Anza California at elevation 4,500'. Summers could actually get up to the middle 90s Fahrenheit (38 Celsius). On bare soil with no cover the temperatures were more intense. At the end of the 1980s, I noticed many of the Counter and Jeffrey Pines had not put much growth & height despite having good rainfall totals. I had even inoculated then with Pisolithus tinctorius mycorrhizal fungi which is one of the best enhancers. What I noticed is that pines which clearly survied, often had limp needle bundles and tiny bud development for next seasons growth. I also knew that the mycorrhizal grid was healthy because I used to experiment over a wide 8 meters square planting plot of seedlings where I would slow water one pine within the 8 meter square grid which would develop resinous pitch beads on the buds. This phenomena would repeat itself on all the pines as the water made it's way throughout the entire grid. Yet these trees I had planted using forestry practices of stripping the ground bare of all other vegetation in the idea of eliminating the competition all were stuck in neutral as far as growth. I had noticed that tree seedling within thinned chaparral fared much better. Why ??? Aside from the abundance of water availability through hydraulic lift and redistribution within the Redshank, the trees were also surrounded by the thick heavy dander of the Chaparral shrubs. That was key, but I did not want to drive off the mountain to a Home Improvement store and pay a huge premium for shredded bark mulch. The cheapest Option I could think of was on a day trip to the resort town of Idyllwild to the north of me. And it was Pine Straw Mulch.
|Image from Mid-Atlantic Pine Straw Mulch|
|Image by 44design|
|Image - Josh Fecteau (May 2013)|
The most amazing response in the wide area mulched one foot and more thick with all the pines was not only the uprightness of the needles and their brighter green shiney color appearances, but also the continued growth and strong development of their central leader buds and branching tips in all Torrey, Jeffrey and Coulter Pines as a result of the pine straw mulch which cooled the ground considerably. The photo above is not mine, but illustrative of what I experienced when the root area runs a cool 70 degrees underground as opposed to 100+ Fahrenheit which cooks the system and forces all the plant resources going into emergency survival mode only. It made me realize why My plantings done at the same time as the US Forest service reforestation project was done 1000' higher in elevation on bare soil did so much better. And they actually had to use a small Ford Farm tractor pulling a water wagon to supplement moisture for survival.
|Photo is mine from 2014|
This final photo taken in 2014 is of a Torrey Pine which grew fast at a new landscape project at the San Diego
Wild AnimalSafari Park. Notice the absolutely need for staking. This was my problem up in Anza. Not because I overwatered, but after mulching the entire topsoil around all the trees, the central leader buds and side branching candle buds skyrocketed in growth. In fact the central leaders after initial 3'+ growth and new needles, grew another two foot more of central leader and side branch buds before going dormant for winter. One Torrey Pine without mulch the first year did nothing close to that until I mulched a foot of pine straw the following year like the rest and all because the cooler soil temperature made the root mechanisms work more efficiently. Too efficiently because staking was necessary when young and we had horrible high winds from the Santa Anas which blew through at 50 to 70 mph.
"Soil without Biology is simply Geology" Gabe Brown