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Natural Awakenings Northwest Florida

It’s Time to Redefine Fertilization

Apr 02, 2014 06:06PM ● By Hunter Grimes

The positive effects of probiotics on human health are becoming well known to the public as many associations are found between the types of microbes found in human and animal digestive systems and diabetes, obesity, Crohn’s disease and other human maladies. Even mental health issues such as depression can be positively affected by treatments with certain types of bacteria.

Plants have a “stomach”, too; it’s the soil. And unlike their animal counterparts, plants, trees and turf don’t have mechanical digestion or organs with an acidic environment to break down their “food” and are therefore more dependent on microbes to meet their nutritional demands.

The synthetic fertilizers in use since the early 1900s focus on delivering the macronutrients nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium to the plant. While this promotes dark green, fast-growing plants, it may also have a detrimental effect on soil biology by inhibiting the supply of carbon, oxygen, hydrogen and microbial life. Simply stated, the overuse of synthetic fertilizers can often damage the ecosystem of the soil by inhibiting the biological processes that keep soil alive and healthy. The net result is the potential loss of topsoil and overall soil fertility.

By focusing solely on plant health, we have hindered the health of our soil and our environment. These high amounts of macronutrients in traditional fertilizers have been attributed to negative environmental impacts by misuse and misapplication causing fertilizer runoff into our water systems.

We need to redefine fertilization and set new standards that include the use of products that target soil biology and promote the expansion of topsoil organisms. Products consisting of carbon-based supplements, which target the soil food web (the living component of the soil), have proven to be successful in reducing the application amounts of nitrogen and phosphorus without sacrificing the visual appearance of the plant by promoting microbial life.

Integrated pest management greatly reduces, and in many cases eliminates, the need for pesticides. Also, using baiting systems around buildings to target and eliminate the threat of termites, instead of pumping hundreds of gallons of pesticides, which can also eliminate beneficial organisms, is a technology worth investigating.

Instead of treating the problematic symptoms of a home’s landscape and garden, it makes sense to treat the root cause; unhealthy soil. Natural fertilization improves soil structure while reducing runoff and leaching, facilitates the uptake of nutrients and detoxifies the soil. It will also increase the water-holding capacity of the soil and enhance the root growth of plants. All of these factors put together provide an environment that is advantageous and environmentally responsible for plant growth, whether it be grass, ornamental plants, trees or the garden.

Hunter Grimes is a third-generation certified operator with Bryan Pest Control, a family owned and operated company on the Emerald Coast for more than 37 years that employs 54 people. Bryan Grimes (owner) and two other employees have sat as presidents of the Florida Pest Management Association.

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