More on microbes...

On the subject of where to get soil microbes-- I want to mention one very
important bacteria.  The legume soil benefit comes from the symbiosis with
the soil bacteria rhizobia (general name).  

I planted a few acres last year and used about 16 different legumes and
inoculated all the seed with the very specific rhizobia species.  This is
not an endorsement but.... I used Nitragin Brand Inoculants and also
inoculants that arrived with my legume seeds from a very helpful company
called Wildlife Nurseries, Inc.

The bacteria advantage is used with a lot of our crops-- soybeans, alfalfa,
clovers, etc...  Nowadays in the Midwest our soils have been inoculated
enough that we don't inoculate soybeans every time we plant them.  The
"bugs" are in the soil and doing quite well without our help thank you.  But
for those legumes that haven't been grown in a certain area or at least not
for a long time (like the native legumes I was planting) adding rhizobia to
the seeds and the soil is really great for plant growth and soil quality in
the long run.


                               Sustainability International
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Article 1200 of alt.sustainable.agriculture:
Path: samba.oit.unc.edu!oit-mail2news-gateway
From: kdraeger@soils.umn.edu (Kathy Draeger)
Newsgroups: alt.sustainable.agriculture
Subject: mulches and the impending societal collapse
Date: 10 Aug 1993 12:19:47 -0400
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     This is in response to Anne's posting about mulches etc..... Is it 
just a religion or is there some "real" advantage to these systems? Many 
mulchies do have a regard for their systems that borders on the sublime, 
but don't get me wrong, some of my best friends are mulchies.
     One scientist here at the University of Minnesota did a controlled, 
replicated field experiment contrasting various chemical fertilizers and an 
alfalfa mulch system for horitcultural crops. He collected data on a number 
of soil and crop parameters and found some advantages to the mulch system 
in objective and scientific terms. Such work is going on at a number of 
research institiutions across the country.
     I would like to address this on an intuitive level- which is 
how many mulchies approach this issue (I myself am not one of their ranks). 
A mulch system is a slightly more approximation of nature- compared to 
monoculture and that, in my opinion, is good. With multiple crops we can 
increase the beneficial soil microbial populations such as rhizobia 
(alfalfa) and vesicular-arbuscular mycorrhizae (VAM). And possibly thwart 
some of the pathogenic organisms.     
      Monoculture has worked for us, and mulching would certainly be more 
labor intensive- so it is a complex societal and scientific problem. There 
are scientists who are exploring the benefits of the mulch system and one 
day maybe we will have a better understanding of why this idea seems to 
grasp our imagination and even inspire devotion. I have some pretty far out 
ideas as to why we need to have these ideas and systems--some other 
     What exactly is this group that I am posting to and who is the 
audience here? I am in the dept. of Soil Scienc at the U of Minn., working 
with bean production in the Ecuadorean Andes. 

Email:        Kathy.Draeger@soils.umn.edu