The interface between the soil and plants is one of the most complex and diverse eco-systems on earth, and to function properly every aspect of the soil system (Minerals - Structure - Biology) needs to be kept in a reasonable balance.

Plants grown in well balanced soils tend to be healthier, stronger and more resilient to pests and disease, they require less fertilizer and chemicals, and are able to uptake and retain minerals more efficiently.

An understanding of this complex interface is important for the successful management of soils and plants in any situation, and our ability to help manage this sets Soilsmart apart.

One of the key differences between these highly productive soils and those which predominate many of our modern production systems is their biological balance. Building or rejuvenating a beneficial biology in the soil can take a lot of pressure off because it enables you to manage some of the more difficult aspects automatically.

How ? - Most of the pests and diseases which affect plant based systems are anaerobic, they prefer and thrive in tight, compact soils which have low Oxygen levels. Because beneficial organisms build soil structure they increase Oxygenation around plant roots and consequently create an unfavourable environment for pathogens, beneficial organisms prefer and thrive with increasing Oxygen and provide competition against disease.

As well as increasing Oxygen, beneficial microbes also offset one of the less well understood side effects of poor soil structure. The organisms that predominate anaerobic soils also produce waste materials which are extremely low in pH. These by-products are toxic and interfere with the availability and supply of minerals to the roots, stressing plants and making them weak and prone to attack. 

Managing these influencing factors is complex, but also our specialty, because at times what your soil test tells you, bears no relevance to what the plant needs or is able to access. In fact once the root system becomes compromised or damaged by pathogenic organisms, a soil report, or anything you apply to the soil is no longer valid, and to maintain plant health and combat the negative effects we need to diagnose and treat the plant.

In essence Soilsmart's products and services have been developed to help you work on the causes of soil and plant health issues, an approach which differs dramatically from the more common approaches to dealing with pests and disease. The difference in our approach although dramatic in its effect is also subltle and hard for many to see but it can be summarised as follows.

It's a fact that trends across most commercial soil based enterprises are typified by increasing pest and disease pressure and a strong reliance on chemicals to control them. This is surprising because there has never been more products to help adjust nutrition, modify the physical properties of soil or treat the effects of pests and disease - so why are these pressures increasing and control measures becoming less effective?

The answer to this question nearly sounds too simplistic, however it has had far reaching consequences and highlights the flaws that have crept into our management practices. Put simply, in our quest to find products to reduce or minimise the various pressures from pests and disease, we have inadvertently focused our efforts on overcoming and treating the symptoms of the various problems rather than addressing the causes.

In fact once you realise that pests and disease are actually natures' garbage collectors, sent out to clean up sick or weak plants, then it's not too much of a stretch to understand that the temporary removal of the garbage collectors won't provide a solution because we need to find out what is causing the sickness in the first place!

Of course we can't ignore the need to treat an infestation, so t
he best approach is to treat the symptoms (if they are causing economic threat), this should alleviate the immediate pressure, but at the same time we should also begin testing, investigating and treating the causal issues so that we can achieve longer term benefit and hopefully a genuine reduction in severity and reoccurrence.

We Need Balance - It's Not About One Approach Or The Other

Soilsmart manufacture and supply a unique range of organic & biologically based soil and plant health products and provide some unique diagnostic services,
 to address the cause of soil based management issues, and build and restore the biological and mineral balance the soil and plant needs to remain productive in the longer term.

This balancing approach enhances the health and productivity of plants grown in a wide variety of circumstances and it allows us to genuinely work towards remediating the underlying causes of soil decline and poor plant health.

A well balanced soil has long term economic and environmental benefits as well, because by reducing the incidence of pests and disease we also reduce the need for chemical inputs. In fact plants grown in well balanced soils typically have higher sugar levels and are stronger and more resilient against pests and disease - (insects don’t like plants with high sugar levels)
Biologically active soils are also typified by good soil structure, ensuring adequate Oxygen levels in the root zone as well as increasing water use efficiency. Nutrients are retained in the root zone longer, making them more available to plant roots and reducing environmental losses from leaching.

Improving soil balance will also ensure you get the maximum value from fertilizer additions, an issue of increasing importance with the cost of most chemically based inputs linked to diminishing oil reserves. In fact there has never been a better time to implement management strategies that ensure your soil is well balanced, capable of adapting to changes in climatic conditions and able to use artificial fertilizers and chemical inputs as efficiently as possible.

  See also;

Our Changing Soils

Rebuilding Soil Balance

Defending Against Pests & Disease