by Ken Quandt, Nature Safe Regional Manager
A complement of soil microorganisms is an important part of a quality organic fertilizer. Contrary to popular belief, these microorganisms rarely colonize in the soil unless the soil is totally sterile, which only occurs if the soil has been artificially sterilized. These invading organisms never significantly contribute to the activities of the soil ecosystem. What they do is serve as a stimulus for the native microorganisms to build their numbers and fight off the outside invaders.
When a foreign army invades a sovereign nation, the nation that has been invaded quickly builds their armed forces to fight off the invaders. The native microorganisms do much the same thing. As they build their numbers the native microorganisms consume the invaders and eventually wipe them out. It is the food value from the amino acids contained in Nature Safe that allow the native microbes to build their populations to massive proportions. Nature Safe contains up to ten times more readily available organic nutrients from amino acids than its closest competitors. That is the BIG advantage of Nature Safe. The microbes that were artificially introduced only acted as a stimulant.
Some organic fertilizers do not add any microorganisms but, it is important for a wide variety of microorganisms to be present in an organic fertilizer to stimulate the growth of as many different native species as possible. For the record, however, some of the microorganisms that are contained in Nature Safe include:
- Bacillus subtilis
- Bacillus cerus
- Bacillus polymyxa
- Bacillus megaterium
- Torula, and
Some companies try to stipulate how many microbes of each species are present in their product. This number is usually expressed in terms of the microbe numbers per gram of product. While that may look impressive on paper, it is impossible to guarantee. These microbes are living, breathing organisms and their populations tend to be quite dynamic. In a short period of time, their numbers can rise and fall dramatically.
The methods used to introduce these microorganisms into the soil are also important. Some people try to introduce them as a liquid spray along with their fungicide applications. These products are commonly referred to as “bugs in a jug.” While the liquid products contain quite a few different species of microbes, they are not very effective. When applied to the leaf surface during the day, the ultra violet rays from the sun kill most of the microbes before they can be watered into the turf. The only alternative is to spray the turf after the sun goes down, and that is not a very popular time for turf managers to do their spraying. When these microorganisms are introduced in a granular fertilizer, they are somewhat protected from the UV rays because they are inside the particle. The particle does not stick to the leaf, but rolls off of it and down into the turf canopy where it is further protected from the UV rays.
As usual, Nature Safe stands alone at the head of the pack. Some products can provide a few of the benefits derived from using Nature Safe, but none can match Nature Safe on a point by point basis and still provide the readily available food for the soil microbes that are in Nature Safe. Some microbes feed only on less readily available organic sources such as plant residue, manure, and sludges. These microbes rarely change in numbers, rarely run out of food, and they grow and reproduce slowly. Therefore, feeding them sludges and manure is not going to change their numbers appreciably. If you really want to greatly increase the soil microbe populations, you have to feed the microbes that consume readily available organic nutrients, and that is accomplished by applying Nature Safe.