A practical rhizosphere test

A simple, practical rhizosphere test is to pull a plant or two and look at the roots.  Is the soil clinging to the roots?  If it is, you have plants that are producing root exudates for the soil microbes and soil microbes that are exchanging nutrients with the plant roots.  If you don’t your plants are not in communication with the microbiome.

There are fungi, bacteria, archaea, protozoa, algae, yeast.  They aggregate the soil into clumps, leaving pore space for air and water.  They are a dynamic being, changing quickly with the environment.   They communicate, not through words but through a type of species-unique chemical called an autoinducer.

Plants exude long chains of carbon through their roots.  Microbes form these carbon chains into aromatic rings which are an integral part of humus.  Humus is a wonderful support for plants; it holds water, nutrients, helps to chelate minerals to make them plant available, provide soil structure and porosity.  Microbes don’t need humus directly, but they do need plants.  Plants are less stressed when there is humus around.  It’s a symbiotic relationship.

There are those who says that decomposition (composting for example) ultimately results in the decomposed carbon being released into the atmosphere.  They say it takes living plants and microbes to produce humus and build soil carbon.  Fungal decomposition doesn’t build humus.  Living plants in communication with the microbiome builds humus.  All this is via the liquid carbon pathway.

You may hear that the use of fertilizer “salts” will destroy soil biology.  “Salts” are soluble and tend to be associated with synthetic fertilizers. The mineral fertilizers we recommend to balance the soil minerals are not in that class.  The kale in the picture had a pretty heathy rhizosphere before it was tugged out of the ground.  The soil has been amended and balanced acording to OrganiCalc.

It is an amazing world underground!  It’s well worth it to be a bit curious and see what’s down there.