Adding Microbes to Soil: Native or Non-Indigenous?

There is some debate among growers over whether or not to introduce non-indigenous microbes, or to simply feed the microbes, the native microorganisms, already present in the soil.

Adding Microbes to Soil: Native or Non-Indigenous?

Today many growers are aware of the importance of adding microbes to their soils. Why? To stimulate the uptake of nutrients and to increase crop yields. There is some debate among growers over whether to introduce non-indigenous microbes. Many believe it’s better simply to feed the microbes — native microorganisms — already present in the soil. Which method is best for you?

Problems introducing non-indigenous microbes

Some growers choose to introduce new, non-indigenous microbes into their soils, in a process known as Soil Inoculation. Some of these products actually do bring short-term benefits. However in the long run, these microbes can’t compete with the microbes that are already there. Indigenous microbes are better adapted to the soil and climactic conditions than the new strains. 

A study published by the American Society for Microbiology sheds some interesting light on the lack of effectiveness of soil inoculation. According to the article, Fate and activity of microorganisms introduced into soil, soil inoculation is often not effective.

The article notes, “Inoculation of soils has already been applied for decades, but it has often yielded inconsistent or disappointing results. This is caused mainly by a commonly observed rapid decline in inoculant population activity following introduction into soil, i.e., a decline of the numbers of inoculant cells and/or a decline of the (average) activity per cell.” (“Microbiology and Molecular Biology Reviews Jun 1997, 61 (2) 121-135; DOI”).

The problem with introducing non-indigenous inoculants is that they cannot compete with the indigenous microbes. The indigenous microbes quickly reproduce and out-compete the non-native microorganisms. Within a period of months, the non-indigenous microbes die off, and whatever beneficial benefit growers received from introducing these new microbes, has resulted in diminishing returns.

Feed your indigenous microbes instead!

There is a more effective technique, which results in significant higher yields and higher crop sugar content. Now you can introduce liquid nutrient soil amendments, or food for the native microbes, into the soil. Naturally, these indigenous microbes are already present in your soil. Due to a lack of nutrients, however they’re typically present only in small or even dormant populations due to a lack of nutrients. In many cases depleted soil blocks result in decreased crop yields for growers, turning profits into losses.

Feeding your native microbes is necessary to restore depleted soils to a healthy and profitable condition. This wakes them up from their dormant state.

When the correct blends of nutrients are applied to your soil, the native microorganisms reproduce more quickly, converting more nutrients for the plant. This causes it to grow faster and generally larger than untreated an untreated plant. After the plant grows a leaf, the growth rate of the plant multiplies. The plant also produces sugars in the roots for the microbes, which then produce humus. The plant then pumps large amounts of sugar and other molecules that exude (leak out) of the roots. This is bulk food for microbes to build soil humus in the root zone.

The importance of humus for plant growth

According to an Ohio State University Extension article, Understanding Soil Microbes and Nutrient Recycling, “Soil organic matter (SOM) is composed of the living (microorganisms), the dead (fresh residues), and the very dead (humus) fractions. The very dead or humus is the long-term SOM fraction that is thousands of years old and is resistant to decomposition.”

Humus holds high amounts of water, which is easily taken by the plant, especially in times of drought. Adding the correct nutrients for microbes lets the plant take in the optimum nutrients at the optimum time, allowing it to achieve its full genetic potential.

The article further states, “Soil organic matter has two components called the active (35 percent) and the passive (65 percent) SOM. Active SOM is composed of the “living” and “dead” fresh plant or animal material which is food for microbes and is composed of easily digested sugars and proteins.”

The article points out the importance of frequent replenishment of nutrients, especially SOM, to the soil. “Microbes need regular supplies of active SOM in the soil to survive in the soil. Long-term no-tilled soils have significantly greater levels of microbes, more active carbon, more SOM, and more stored carbon than conventional tilled soils. A majority of the microbes in the soil exist under starvation conditions and thus they tend to be in a dormant state, especially in tilled soils.”

MultiFIX® — The Optimum Food for Microbes

There are several soil amendment products on the market which feed the indigenous microbes in the soil. One of the oldest and most effective of these is MultiFIX®, manufactured by Advanced BioTech LLC of California.

By feeding the microbes that feed the plant, an effective soil amendment such as MultiFIX® increases the soil nutrients available to the plant. Your plant is now a sugar factory building each plant cell. This results in more sugar in the soil to produce more enzymes, organic acids, antibodies and other complex chemicals. MultiFIX® makes your plants healthier and more productive, providing you with the best crop possible!

This is why it’s of utmost importance to maintain a regular microbial nutrition program, feeding the microbes in your soil to keep them healthy. This helps you maintain healthy soils which, in turn, produce healthy row crops, fruit and nut trees. Science shows that giving your microbes this important attention given results in higher crop yield, weight, sugar, and ultimately, higher profits.

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