[permaculture] mycorrhizae thread | Re: [SANET-MG] Phosphorus availability (was Loss of Minerals)

venaurafarm venaurafarm at bellsouth.net
Sat Mar 23 13:14:41 EDT 2013

-------- Original Message --------
Subject: Re: [SANET-MG] Phosphorus availability (was Loss of Minerals)
Date: Thu, 16 Dec 2004 09:14:47 -0800
From: Dale Wilson <nosliwelad at YAHOO.COM>

> I'd like to pick up on a hint that someone mentioned in this
> thread. I'd like to learn more about how phosphorus changes
> from "available" to "unavailable."  I've long believed that
> microbs are involved but would like to know more about how to
> encourage the conversion to "availability."

At the Agronomy Society meetings last month in Seattle I heard an
interesting talk by Shabtai Bittman (Agassiz, British Columbia) "Do
arbuscular mycorrhizae improve P uptake and growth of corn on manured
soils?" He showed that you can get early season deficiency even when
there is plenty of P in the soil if the VA mycorrhizae are disrupted.
Corn, and many crops are dependent on these fungi to get P from the
soil.  Tillage chops up the network and it takes a few weeks to
reestablish it.  Dr. Bittman knows a lot about mycorrhizae, and might
be a good source of information.



 >> At the Agronomy Society meetings last month in Seattle I heard an
 >> interesting talk by Shabtai Bittman...

 > In a laboratory setting, two pots, one with VAM and one completely
 > without, each with the same amount of P nutrient, corn planted in
 > the VAM pot would grow better?

As I understand it, yes.  But Bittman generally works in the field, and
the situation might be different in a pot.  Here is the abstract:
Do Arbuscular Mycorrhizae Improve P Uptake and
Growth of Corn on Manured Soils?
S. Bittman* - Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada
C.G. Kowalenko - Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada
D.E. Hunt - Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada
T.A. Forge - Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada
X. Wu - Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada
Starter P is often applied to silage corn which is typically grown on
soils receiving large amounts of P-rich cattle manure. The objective of
our study was to determine if application of dairy manure affects early
colonization of corn roots by arbuscular mycorrhizae and if root
colonization by mycorrhiza is beneficial for corn grown on heavily
manured soils. The study was conducted over 3 seasons on a coarse
textured soil in coastal BC. We found that manure application slightly
increased root colonization at 3-leaf stage and significantly increased
P uptake by 6-leaf stage. Even with a large dose of manure, corn with
relatively good root colonization at 3-leaves had taken up more P by
6-leaves than corn with poorer colonization. At harvest, P uptake was
not associated with early root colonization, but corn that had been
well-colonized at 3-leaves had higher dry matter content and grain
percentage, and somewhat higher whole plant yield, than corn with poor
early colonization. The association between crop yield and early
colonization by mycorrhiza was apparent on both manured and non manured
plots. Our results suggest that it may be possible to reduce rates of
starter P on manured soils for corn that is well colonized with
Speaker Information: Shabtai Bittman, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada,
Pacific Agri-food Research CentreBox 1000, Agassiz, BC V0M 1A0; Phone:
604 796 2221 EXT246; E-mail: bittmans at agr.gc.ca

 > Trying to locate some Carolina black rock phosphate years ago, I
 > wound up talking to a PCS, Inc. chemist in Chicago. (I may be in
 > error about some if this) He intimated that farm soil has a limited
 > reservoir of phosphate that is available for immediate uptake by
 > plants even though you may have applied way more P to the soil,
 > only a limited amount will be available to plants

I think that is the key to understanding P nutrition and the role of
mycorrhizae.  P tends to be adsorbed on soil particles rather than in
solution.  Unlike most minerals that are swept up in bulk uptake of
water by the roots, P does not move much in soil water.  The root
system must go and extract it.  But the root system is not big enough,
hence the niche for mycorrhizae, which can intimately explore far more
surface area of soil particles than can roots, especially early in the



-------- Original Message --------
Subject: Re: [SANET-MG] Phosphorus availability (was Loss of Minerals)
Date: Thu, 16 Dec 2004 12:14:09 -0800
From: Heide Hermary <heidehermary at PACIFICCOAST.NET>

Actually, phosphorous (phosphate) exists in the soil as an anion and is
not held at cation exchange sites. However, instead of being leached out
of the soil it forms water-insoluble compounds with other minerals,
depending on pH.  Phosphorous uptake is 500% or so higher from organic
matter than from the mineral soil.

 >> I think that is the key to understanding P nutrition and the role of
 >> mycorrhizae.  P tends to be adsorbed on soil particles rather than in
 >> solution.

 >> Unlike most minerals that are swept up in bulk uptake of
 >> water by the roots, P does not move much in soil water.  The root
 >> system must go and extract it.  But the root system is not big
 >> enough, hence the niche for mycorrhizae, which can intimately
 >> explore far more surface area of soil particles than can roots,
 >> especially early in the season.


Phosphorous in soil - a detailed explanation (Livestock and Poultry
Environmental Stewardship Curriculum):

Phosphorous binding (New York Water Environment Association):

Phosphorous activating bacteria:


-------- Original Message --------
Subject: Re: [SANET-MG] Phosphorus availability (was Loss of Minerals)
Date: Fri, 17 Dec 2004 04:03:09 -0800
From: Dale Wilson <nosliwelad at YAHOO.COM>

I am not an expert in this area, so take what I say with a grain of
salt!  Maybe Joel will weigh in here.

 > So, if VAM help make P available, what cultural processes
 > encourage VAM?
 > Does this get back to the concept of using cold compost and/or
 > organic mulch?  Am I correct in thinking greater organic matter
 > content helps VAM?

VA mycorrhizae are normal and ubiquitous, not just the province of
organic agriculture.

 > Does tillage slow down VAM activity?

My understanding is that tillage chops up the network but it grows
back.  Very severe tillage, like rototilling sets it back a lot
according to Shabtai Bittman.  I spent some time talking with him after
his talk.  According to a soil scientist friend of mine in the PNW,
Bittman has been around for a while and done interesting and dramatic
work manipulating VAM in field experiments.

 > How does soil temperature(excessively
 > high or cold) affect VAM?

I read a paper recently that showed persistence after very cold winter
temperatures.  WRT high temps, I will have to defer to others.

 > How does (in my case) excessive calcium
 > carbonate in soil affect VAM (if at all)?

I did a search on Google using "mycorrhizae and pH" and got 32,400
hits.  VA mycorrhizae are very cosmopolitan, way more important in the
grand scheme of terrestrial plants than Rhizobia.  I saw some
references to desert ecosystems.  Almost all crop plants form
associations with VAM, except for the Brassicas.  I'm sure your garden
is loaded with VAM.



-------- Original Message --------
Subject: Re: [SANET-MG] Fwd:  Re: Soil fertility....
Date: Wed, 22 Dec 2004 07:34:13 -0800
From: Dale Wilson <nosliwelad at YAHOO.COM>

Hi Michael,

WRT tropical soils

 > There is little or no "soil", in the sense of nutrients not in
 > current use.

This is an overgeneralization.  There are many decent soils in the
tropics, and some extremely poor soils in temperate regions.

 > Strip away the cover of life and you get an inert material called
 > laterite. This rapidly turns to brick if it isn't covered up again
 > by its protective coating of life.

Soils prone to plinthite (laterite) formation are not very common, even
in those few tropical regions infamous for having them.  In those
areas, extent ranges from 5 to 15% according to Sanchez in "Properties
and management of soils in the tropics".

When I was at CIAT in the Cauca valley in Colombia I saw only deep,
black vertisol clay (physically idiosyncratic, but very productive).
Further East I saw mainly highly aggregated oxisols (low CEC, but
physically good).  In the mountains around Medellin I saw mainly dark,
rich, friable, volcanically-derived soils.  I'm sure these snap up
phosphorus like crazy, but the small farmers were growing real nice
maize, beans and all sorts of vegetables.

 > Amazonian primitives practise slash and burn agriculture not because
 > of some ancestral wisdom, but because it's the easiest way to get
 > rid of that protective ground cover and expose a patch of land not
 > being used for other purposes. It works so long as there is so much
 > land available that small groups can move to a fresh area once the
 > patch they're tending plays out and becomes barren...
 > The long term prognosis is soil sterility.

Not with judicious use of lime, fertilizer (esp. P) and keeping the
soil covered by mulch or crop canopy.  The biggest problem, and the big
reason for shifting cultivation is weed pressure.



-------- Original Message --------
Subject: [SANET-MG] Phosphorus availability  in Soil and Mycorrhizae
Date: Fri, 17 Dec 2004 09:45:31 -0500
From: Kimberly Stoner <Kimberly.Stoner at PO.STATE.CT.US>

Hi Sanet:

We had David Douds at the last NOFA Summer Conference, talking about his
SARE-funded research using Bermuda grass to buildup populations of
mycorrhizae in compost, then using the compost to pre-inoculate vegetable
seedlings in the greenhouse before transplanting.  He also gave a very good
general introduction to mycorrhizae, their role in plant nutrition, and ways
that crop rotations and other cultural practices affect mycorrhizae

Here is the website for his latest annual report:

And here is the initial summary from the report:
David Douds, Jr.
USDA/ARS Eastern Regional Research Center
Wyndmoor, PA
Arbuscular mycorrhizal [AM] fungi are soil fungi that form a mutualistic
symbiosis with the majority of crop and horticultural plants. Among the
benefits to the host plant are enhanced: nutrient uptake, disease
resistance, and water relations. Given these benefits, utilization of AM
fungi should be an integral part of farming systems that seek to minimize
chemical inputs. Commercial production of these fungi currently is done in
greenhouse pots with plants or in the laboratory in Petri dishes with root
organ cultures. These methods then require isolation and purification of the
fungus, mixing it with a carrier, and/or transport of bulky pot culture
inocula to the farmer. This has limited the utilization of AM fungus inocula
to plant production systems requiring only small volumes of inoculum.

The goal of this project is to develop, refine, and transfer to farmers a
new technology for "on-farm" production of AM fungus inocula. The farmer
would purchase or grow host plants pre-colonized with individual species of
AM fungi and transplant them into enclosures filled with compost diluted
with vermiculite. The plants grow for one growing season during which the
fungi proliferate as the roots grow throughout the media. The farmer
utilizes the inoculum the following spring by mixing it into potting media
used for growing vegetable seedlings for transplant to the field.

A core group of farmers have agreed to participate in this project. The plan
was for inoculum production to occur at the farms in year two and
utilization of this inoculum in year three. A major technology
transfer/outreach effort was scheduled to occur in year three at a field day
at The Rodale Institute.

Four of the participant farmers will produce and utilize inoculum of
arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi, thereby increasing profits and environmental
quality by increasing yields and decreasing synthetic inputs, and two will
be present at a field workshop to transfer technology to other farmers.

Kim Stoner
Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station
P.O. Box 1106, New Haven, CT 06504


-------- Original Message --------
Subject: Re: [SANET-MG] Phosphorus availability (was Loss of Minerals) 
More on  VAM
Date: Thu, 16 Dec 2004 22:44:19 -0800
From: Lawrence F. London, Jr. <lfl at INTREX.NET>

Dale Wilson wrote:

 > At the Agronomy Society meetings last month in Seattle I heard an
 > interesting talk by Shabtai Bittman (Agassiz, British Columbia) "Do
 > arbuscular mycorrhizae improve P uptake and growth of corn on manured
 > soils?" He showed that you can get early season deficiency even when
 > there is plenty of P in the soil if the VA mycorrhizae are disrupted.
 > Corn, and many crops are dependent on these fungi to get P from the
 > soil.  Tillage chops up the network and it takes a few weeks to
 > reestablish it.  Dr. Bittman knows a lot about mycorrhizae, and might
 > be a good source of information.

 From 1995 here's something really interesting about VAM and the role of 
red clover:
I wonder what the state of Brendan's research is in 2004.


 From niemirab at student.msu.edu Fri Mar  3 21:38:31 EST 1995
Article: 5512 of bionet.plants
From: niemirab at student.msu.edu  (Brendan A. Niemira)
Newsgroups: bionet.plants
Subject: Re: Mycorhizzae vs. Fertilizer
Date: Thu, 02 Mar 1995  11:04 est
Organization: Michigan State University

In Article <3j30kl$s12 at vixen.cso.uiuc.edu> "egrunden at prairienet.org 
(Eric Grunden)" says:
 > If a person was to isolate a fungus that would form a
 > mycorhizzae relationship with an agronomic crop, would
 > innoculation of that fungus into the field (once it
 > became established) be an effective method for reducing
 > the need for commercial fertilization? Wouldn't the
 > "strength/abundance" of the fungi grow exponentially with
 > the passing of years?

For agronomic crops, you're talking about vesicular arbuscular 
mycorrhizae (VAM),
a symbiotic endomycorrhizal fungus.  These are ubiquitous anyway, and 
not very
host-specific, so there is very little need to inoculate the field in order
to introduce them.  The big trick is getting them to colonize your crop 
to such an extent that fertilizer inputs can be reduced.  You can a) 
build up
the population in the soil such that even moderately active fungi result in
heavy coloniazation, b) put something in the soil to stimulate the activity
of smaller populations to get heavy colonization.

Crop rotations have been shown to have a definite impact on the population
dynamics of VAM, and work is currently being done (by me, among others) to
determine how the different crop plants differentially select for certain
species of VAM among all that are availible in the soil.

Other workers have shown that certain natural, plant-produced chemicals can
stimulate the existing VAM to higher levels of activity.  These 
chemicals were
originally derived from red clover, a popular sequence in crop 
rotations.  This
may shed some light on why rotations are effective w/regard to VAM.

Good luck.

Brendan A. Niemira           |   "You know your Shelley, Bertie."
Dept. Botany and Plant Path  |   "Oh, am I?"
Michigan State University    |       P.G. Wodehouse
niemirab at student.msu.edu     |       *The Code of the Woosters*
         All opinions expressed are entirely my own.


-------- Original Message --------
Subject: Re: [SANET-MG] Phosphorus availability (was Loss of Minerals) 
Phosphorus in Soil
Date: Thu, 16 Dec 2004 23:12:28 -0800
From: Lawrence F. London, Jr. <lfl at INTREX.NET>

Edna Weigel wrote:

 > Dale, LL, and any one else interested:
 >     So, if VAM help make P available, what cultural processes 
encourage VAM?
 > Does this get back to the concept of using cold compost and/or organic
 > mulch?  Am I correct in thinking greater organic matter content helps 
 > Does tillage slow down VAM activity?  How does soil temperature 
 > high or cold) affect VAM?  How does (in my case) excessive calcium 
 > in soil affect VAM (if at all)?
 > Warm thoughts, Edna

Thanks to Heide for this link:


LESSON 34 Phosphorus Management: Bridging the Interface between 
Agriculture and Environment
MODULE D Land Application and Nutrient Management
Phosphorus in Soil

Soil P exists in inorganic and organic forms (Figure 34-2). Each form is
a continuum of many P compounds, existing in equilibrium with each other
and ranging from solution P (taken up by plants) to very stable or
unavailable compounds (the most typical). In most soils, 50% to 75% of the
P is inorganic.

Inorganic P is usually associated with aluminum (Al), iron (Fe), and
calcium (Ca) compounds of varying solubility and availability to plants.
Phosphorus has to be added to most soils so adequate levels are 
available for
optimum crop growth and yield. However, P can be rapidly fixed (also
referred to as sorption) in forms unavailable to plants, depending on 
soil pH
and type (Al, Fe, and Ca content). Conversion of unavailable to available
forms of soil P usually occurs too slowly to meet crop P requirements
(dashed line on Figure 34-2). As a result, soil P tests were developed to
determine the amount of plant-available P in soil, and from this, how much P
should be added as fertilizer or manure to meet desired crop yield 
goals. The
estimated amount of plant-available soil P is subsequently referred to 
as soil
test P.

Organic P compounds range from readily available undecomposed plant
residues and microbes within the soil to stable compounds that have become
part of soil organic matter. Biological processes in the soil, such as 
activity, tend to control the mineralization and immobilization of 
organic P.

Mineralization, the breakdown or conversion of readily available organic 
P to
inorganic solution P, occurs in most soils, but it is usually too slow 
to provide
enough P for crop growth. Immobilization is the formation of more stable
organic P, which is resistant to breakdown.
In most soils, the P content of surface horizons is greater than subsoil
(Figure 34-3). Except in special situations, added P tends to be fixed 
by the
soil where it is applied, allowing for little movement down through the 
In reduced tillage systems, fertilizers and manures are surface applied with
little or no mechanical incorporation, thus increasing P buildup in the 
top 2 to
5 inches of soil.

Overall, soil pH is the main property controlling inorganic P forms,
Figure 34-4. Approximate representation of the fate of P added to soil by
sorption and occlusion in inorganic forms, as a function of soil pH.
In most soils, the P content of surface horizons is greater than subsoil.
although Al, Fe, and Ca content determine the amounts of these forms.
In acid soils, Al and Fe dominate P fixation, while Ca compounds fix P in
alkaline soils. As a result, P availability is greatest at soil pH between 6
and 7 (Figure 34-4). Immobilization of inorganic P by these processes 
a portion of the added P unavailable for plant uptake (Figure 34-5). 
3 soil P decreased with time after application of P to a clay and silt 
loam soil.
At the same time, more inorganic P was fixed with Al and Fe (Figure 34-5).
This illustrates why crop removal of inorganic P from soil is generally 
low. In
the United States, an average 29% of P added in fertilizer and manures is
removed by harvested crops, ranging from < 1% in Hawaii to 71% in
Wyoming (National Research Council 1993). The low recovery reflects the
predominance of high P-fixing soils in Hawaii.


Molasses applied to soils feeds soil microbes.  Activating
soil biology can impact above-ground insect pests by altering
plant metabolism -- especially relating to sap pH and amino
acids -- in addition to controlling to soil-borne diseases which are
the usual target pathogens of enhanced soil biology.

Likewise, I recall some research underway to understand the
effect of compost utilization on arthropod pests.

Likewise, I recall some research on infra-red detection of hot
zones on plant surfaces where insects attacked.

The application of humus management=biology, mineral balancing,
and energetics is the three-part approach in ecofarming.

Steve Diver


-------- Original Message --------
Subject: [SANET-MG] Ana Primavesi, ecological soil scientist in Brazil
Date: Sat, 3 Jul 2004 18:05:11 -0500
From: Steve Diver <steved at NCAT.ORG>

The items below highlight Dr. Ana Primavesi's contributions to ecological
soil management in South America.

Ana Primavesi is a Brazilian soil scientist who has authored several key
books on sustainable soils and pature management as well as hundreds
of articles, yet little is published in English. The resource pointers and
links to Enlish-language material in this resource listing provide
information to gain appreciation for her work and also to connect several
threads of interest together on soil organic matter management, Effective
Microorganisms, and life force energy in healthy crops as measured by
kirlian photography.

Best regards,

Steve Diver


1.1 Nutrient Levels in Ecologically Managed Soils

In January 2002 I sent notes to SANET on Roland Bunch's paper
containing the Five Principles of Soil Management for the Humid

Date: Tue, 22 Jan 2002 22:58:14 -0600
Subject: No-till, Rolf Derpsch, Roland Bunch's 5 Principles, MOIST

At the time the emphasis of my notes were on the benefits of the no-till
approach. It contained Bunch's soil management principles -- maximize
matter production, keep the soil covered with green manures and cover crop
mulches, zero tillage, maximize biodiversity, and feed crops largely

The links to Roland Bunch's papers are noteworthy

Nutrient Quantity or Nutrient Access?: A New Understanding of How
to Maintain Soil Fertility in the Tropics
By Roland Bunch, October 2001
HTML Abstract:

Bunch's paper in PDF; 19 pages

Bunch refers to Ana Primavesi's "earth-shaking book", "The Ecological
Management of Soils" (in Spanish & Portugese) as the inspiration for
this paper.

The paper addresses the failure of the Nutrient Quantity Concept -- the
dominate Western scientific agriculture paradigm -- to work on tropical
soils where many of the world's poor and small-scale famers live. The
NQC is the typical nutrient sufficiency approach: determine soil nutrient
levels through a soil test and fertilize up to the standard level to ensure
nutrient availability, in order to reach crop yield goals.

But the NQC approach does not account for the longterm sustained yields
on tropical soils managed with organic amendmens such as biomass-producing
cover crops and green manures, nor does it take into account the biological
and physical impacts of cover crop roots, soil organisms, and decomposing
mulches. According to NQC, limiting nutrients should limit crop yields, but
that is not the case. In fact, fertilizing "up" to the supposed levels
for NQC are adding excess nutrients; in addition, organic matter practices
tend to be neglected in NQC as "fertility management" is focused on

As an alternative to NQC, Roland Bunch introduces the work of Ana Primavesi
and describes what he calls the Nutrient Access Concept. He explains why
NAC -- and Primavesi's research that elucidates the framework for NAC -- is
more appropriate as a soil fertility model for ecologically managed soils.

Primavesi's research with hydroponically grown corn showed that nutrient
solutions at 1/50th the standard NAC application rate can provide equivalent
plant growth, as long as the nutrient solution was in constant supply and
roots could access the nutrients.

Bunch states, "That is, crop growth above a certain extremely low
concentration, does not depend on the concentration of nutrients. It
depends, rather, on the constant access of plant roots to the nutrients,
even when these nutrients exist in very low concentrations. The Nutrient
Quantity Concept's remedy of increasing the concentration of nutrients
by applying large amounts of chemical fertilizer misses the point almost
entirely. What is needed is a constant supply of even a very small but well
balanced amount of nutrients over time, and the unobstructed access of
plant roots to these nutrients."

Further, he lists the following principles of the Nutrient Access Concept
of soil fertility for the tropics:

Maximum plant growth can best and most cheaply be achieved in the
tropics by:

1) the constant supply of soil nutrients (most inexpensively achieved with
fairly low concentrations),

2) a healthy balance between the nutrients, and

3) maximum access of plant roots to these nutrients (i.e. the maintenance
of good soil structure and/or mulches)

Interestingly, the farming system examples that Bunch provides in support
of NAC include the underlying factors that are familiar to sustainable
They highlight the "five principles of soil management for the humid
i.e., they maximize organic matter production, they keep the soil covered
with green manures and cover crop mulches, they reduce tillage, they
biodiversity, and they feed crops largely through mulches.

Included among these examples are: gm/cc (green manure/cover crops) and
agroforestry systems, SRI (System of Rice Intensification), fallowing, and
rainforest ecosystems.

The relevance of NAC in SRI is particularly succinct, and Bunch refers
to this
paper by Norman Uphoff:

Questions and Answers about the System of Rice Intensification
(SRI) For Raising the Productivity of Land, Labor, and Water
Norman Uphoff, Cornell Intl Inst for Food, Agriculture and Development

Upfhoff also remarks on the ground-breaking work of Ana Primavesi,
the view "that plants can have normal growth with very low concentrations of
nutrients provided that there is constant supply to the root system." He
suggests "there will be compensating growth of roots, so that small amounts
are continuously accessed to support growth of the canopy and further roots.

This statement from Uphoff grabbed my attention: "The beneficial effects
of using compost would be consistent with this understanding, as it releases
its nutrients very slowly even if they are not provided in large amounts."

All in all, none of this is really new to sustainable farmers who practice
organic matter management and observe healthy plants, focusing on a
holistic appoach rather than a NPK fertilizer approach. Not that Roland
Bunch or sustainable farmers neglects the value of soil tests or
supplementation / remineralization with rock minerals, as he clearly
But the NAC concepts and practices that Bunch describes do lend support
to a more holisitc approach to ecological soil management that goes
beyond nutrient sufficiency and NPK fertilizers as the bellwether of modern
agriculture. In addition, it highlights the contributions of Ana Premavesi,
and especially the notion that small concentrations of nutrients in
constant supply can be adequate for good crop yields, such as those
from slow-relase organic fertilizers, composts, gm/cc mulches,
and worm- and microbe-decomposing organic residues.


Interestingly, in re-examining Ana Primavesi's research in this new light
I recall a very similar statement from Mark McMurtry, when he delivered
a visiting lecture on integrated aqua-vegetable culture at the
University of
Arkansas in the early 1990s. He was invited to the UA by Gordon Watkins,
a well known local organic farmer who was interested in this integrated
approach that is now widely known as aquaponics.

McMurtry's research with Doug Sanders at North Carolina State University
resulted in great impact on integrated recirculating aquaculture and
hydroponics. The modern aquaponic industry has grown and succeeded,
largely through modifications and elaborations to the earlier NCSU
system.  Aquaponics is now one of the leading examples of a
sustainable food producing system. As water becomes scare and limiting,
it is especially noteworthy as a biological filtration treatment and
water re-use system.

McMurtry stated that a low concentration nutrient level is adequate for
plant growth, as long as the nutrient is in constant supply. This would
be the case in fish effluent -- with low concentrations of nutrients from
fish manure, algae, and decomposing fish feed -- diluted into a large
volume of water. Yet, plants and the microbial populations living amongst
the plant roots and hydroponic (gravel, sand) substrate respond to
these nutrients with a flourish. As I recall, McMurtry even stated that
nitrate at 1 ppm could be adequate for plant growth, in constant
supply (though concentrations of 20 ppm on upwards are common).

McMurtry, Mark Richard. 1992. Integrated Aquaculture-Olericulture
System as Influenced by Component Ratio. Ph.D. Thesis, North
Carolina State University.

2.1 Kirlian photography and life force energy

Some years ago I heard about an IFOAM presentation from Brazil that
displayed infra-red hot spots on leaves (similar to Phil Callahan's work),
supporting the notion that improperly fertilized plants "attract" insects.

In recent research, I learned this Brazilian research was done by
Ana Primavesi. It turns out that it was kirlian photography, examining
magnetic emanations from plants.

Dr. Ana Primavesi is a well-known Brazilian soils scientist who has
published extensively on ecological agriculture, including the prominent
book "Manejo Ecologico del Suelo: Le Agriculture en Regiones

To evaluate the effects of a biological inoculation system (EM, or
Microorganisms) on plant health, through her work with the Mokiti Okada
Foundation in Brazil, Primavesi employed the use of kirlian photography
to examine variations in magnetic fields in crop plants, based on different

Results showed that with nutritional unbalances, plants suffer a very
energy loss, reducing their resistance to insects and diseases. When plants
are attacked by insect pests, they exhibit an extremely high energy loss.
Kirilian photography can provide clues to crop quality and biological value
in addition to plant nutritional status.

Determination of Plant Health by their Magnetic Emanation and its
Improvement with EM
Ana Maria Primavesi | EM Database

Plant Energy Field Related to Health and EM treatment
Ana Primavesi
IFOAM '96 Book of Abstracts | 11th IFOAM Scientific Conference


Life force energy is a term that you find in bio-dynamics, nature
farming, eco-farming, and related alternative farming systems
that recognize that physics and subtle energy -- in its many
forms within and beyond the electro-magnetic spectrum -- are
part and parcel of agriculture. These incude defined and measurable
energies, such as the life force energy displayed through kirlian

This site in particular has spectacular kirlian photography that are
both fascinating and revealing. Especially see the images of healthy
leaves from vitalized crops and the images of plant leaves lacking

Kirlian photography | Mitchell May | Synergy superfoods

It would be interesting to measure the life force energy in the crops
and livestock that are found in our food supply, on our university
farms, in the corporate agricultural sector that are the model of
"success" for globalized agriculture and GMOs.

Then, compare the life force energy from crops and livestock raised
on bio-dynamic farms, nature farms, and eco-farms.

Likewise, using sensitive instrumentation to measure biophotons
Fritz-Popp found signficant differences in biophoton light emissions
in organically raised eggs and fresh produce vs. conventional food

3.1 Related EM Papers from Ana Primavesi

The EM Database, hosted at EM Technology Network, contains more
than 600 research reports and conference papers. These include
papers from the International Conferences on Kyusei Nature Farming,
EM symposiums, field trials, and unpublished manuscripts.

The following papers from Ana Primavesi are notable because few
English-language papers are available among the hundreds of
articles she has written in Portugese. Moreover, she is Science
Counselor for the Mokiti Okada Foundation in Brazil, which
conducts EM research.

Comparison of the Effect of EM and other Bacterial and Mineral
Products on Bean Yield

EM and Its Effects on Citrus

Effect of Microbial Inoculants and Mineral Elements on Drought
Resistance and Yield of Field Bean

Seed Treatment With EM and Micronutrients for Controlling Rice
and Maize Diseases

EM Technology and Organic Matter Amendments in the Tropics

Effect of Lactobacillus Inoculants, Organic Amendments and
Mineral Elements on Yield of Onion and Field Bean

Effect of EM on the Growth and Yield of Rice and Beans

Quantity of EM-4 which may be Applied to a Soil with
3% of Organic Matter

3.2 LEISA papers from Ana Primavesi

ILEIA, a Centre for Information on Low External Input and
Sustainable Agriculture, published ILEIA newsletter and now
publishes LEISA magazine. LEISA is one of the top magazines
in ecological agriculture.

LEISA Magazine, volume 18
Issue 1 - Livestock
Optimising climate-soil-pasture-cattle interactions in Brazil
Ana Primavesi and Odo Primavesi

LEISA Magazine, volume 15
Issue 3+4 - Agrobiodiversity
More rice with good soil fertility management
Ana Primavesi

ILEIA Newsletter v.6 no.3 (October 1990) p.8-9
Soil life and chemical fertilizers
Ana Primavesi

3.3 Soil, Food and People Conference, South America

Ecology Action, home of John Jeavons and the Biointensive Mini-Farming
system, will host a South American version of the Soil, Food and People
Conference, September 28 - October 1, 2004 in Costa Rica.

Soil, Food and People Conference, South America

Some of the well known soil scientists, agronomists, and ecological
farmers who will speak include Ana Primavesi, John Doran, Dominique
Guillete, Don Lotter, John Jeavons, Steve Moore, Reinhold Muschler,
Guillermo Romero Ibarrola, Ricardo Romero, and others.

"Ana Primavesi, Brazil, is a retired Agronomist and a PhD in Soil Management
and Crop Nutrition. She is also a Science Counselor for the Mokiti Okada
Foundation, author and a contributor to technical newspapers, a founding
member of the Organic Agriculture Society in Brazil, of MAELA in Latin
America and of IFOAM--Latin America."


More information about the permaculture mailing list