How to Assess Numbers of 'Critical' Microbes in Soil

In the last two blogs we have started to describe step by step the composting process at Frog Hollow Farm using the slides that were part of Farmer Al’s presentations in front of various forums.  The next blog  will show how the numbers and biomass of the four critical microbes are assessed. This past week two compost windrows were designated (based on temperature readings) for spreading under the orchard trees. The microbes present in these windrows are currently being analyzed by microscopy to determine if the compost is fungally dominant. The results will be summarized in the next blog.

In the last few days, we have been doing soil drenches and foliar sprays with actively aerated compost teas. The goal has been to limit the growth of certain fruit tree pathogens. We also used a compost tea soil drench that was designed specifically for one plant. There will be more details in future blogs.

Recently, Gregg Young, who has been associated for many years with Frog Hollow as an agronomist, noticed that a lot of mushrooms have started to appear in the apricot orchards. Subsequently, more mushrooms were spotted in other orchards suggesting that the soil is becoming fungally dominant. Ian Garrone of Far West Fungi was finally able to identify the mushroom type with the help of expert contacts. Agrocybe putaminum (mulch fieldcap) is associated with mulch and has been recorded to grow with stone fruit. This is not an edible mushroom.


Authored By: Christophe Kreis MLF Soil Consulting PhD, Molecular Biology/Developmental Biology, University of British Columbia, Canada. 
Christophe is co-founder of MLF Soil Consulting with his wife Monique. He started his career in basic medical research and after various positions in academia and industry Christophe slowly returned to his first passion Soil Ecology and Microbiology. It is his belief that human health is tied intimately to soil health through the production of healthy food. For this reason MLF Soil Consulting is committed to help farmers improve the management of their soil through composting, vermicomposting and biological analysis of microbial soil life.



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