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    NPK

    Okay, I'll once again give (my) the lowdown on the meaning(less) of NPK ratings of organic materials. Briefly, sure there are organic materials which have a high N (etc) content but once properly composted or humified this is sequestered and is not measureable by standards used. That's why properly made compost will begin with a C:N ratio of 25:1 to 45:1 and finish at around 10:1 to 15:1.
    The N which is tied in there may only register at 2% in the measurent scale but is actually much higher in the potential of N to be released through the microbial mineralization or nitrification process. I've posted an article here several times which explains this but it is available at; http://www.microbeorganics.com/#Orga...al_Perspective

    Here is a draft addendum to that article to explain what I mean by chemicals killing soil microbes;
    ______________________________ __________
    "There are bacteria/archaea that will happily feed on chemical fertilizers. Indeed, there are bacteria that will 'feast' on diesel fuel. It is more likely that the use of these fertilizers negatively effect soil biota over a period of time. Chemical N (for example) is (to my knowledge) delivered to the roots of plants in ionic form, bypassing the whole microbial nutrient loop, which occurs through degraded organic matter being delivered in several processes; one major way being by bacterial/archaeal [sic] predation by protozoa (& bacterial feeding nematodes). It follows logically that if chemical fertilizers are used over an extended period (days? months? years?) that the microbial nutrient cycle will slow and/or cease.

    The other side to this is that plants emit compounds from their roots which feed bacteria/archaea and fungi (of species conducive to their survival?) as an active participant in this microbial nutrient loop. Logically, if the plant is receiving direct feed ionic nutrients it is likely to slow and/or cease this process.

    I compare this to a patient receiving interveinous feeding for a period of time and then needing to slowly adjust to real food again when the IV is discontinued.

    The effects over a period of time (days? months? years?) will likely cause a die off of soil biota of a particular microbial consortia but may stimulate the growth of another microbial consortia (possibly/probably not as balanced and beneficial as the natural one), possibly causing disease.

    I hypothesize another factor that may have effect is that when the plant is an active participant in the microbial nutrient cycle it 'decides' what nutrients it requires in time shifts unknown to us. If we are using chemical fertilizers quite likely much goes unused by the plant or is absorbed by the plant unnecessarily promoting disease. The unused chemicals pass into the groundwater and streams or into the atmosphere. We've all heard the detriments around that."
    ______________________________ __________


    Because of this the NPK measurements, similar to pH measurements become meaningless in organics or natural growing.

    Here is another repeat which may help and by all means research the citations;

    ______________________________ ____
    I’ll try to write something up which illustrates the difference between nutrient processing and utilization from a chemical and natural (or organic) standpoint (for want of a better word). The following information and opinion is stated by me and is derived from the citations and links provided. I use the words apparently and appears because I believe knowledge and science is fluid. I also don’t pretend to understand everything perfectly and may need correcting. Just because we know the Earth is not flat does not mean we know everything about it.

    To simplify things I’ll restrict the discussion to the plant’s use of nitrogen (N). The forms of N which plant roots are able to uptake are in ionic form or soluble. These soluble forms of N are ammonium (NH4+) and nitrate (NO3-). Very simply stated these soluble forms of N are instantly available in chemical N and there is no need for any bacterial/archaeal (B/A) mineralization to make them available to the roots of plants. There is some indication that some soluble ammonium is utilized by B/A and mineralized into nitrates, however this appears (to me) somewhat an opportunistic occurrence (from the B/A perspective). So yes we can concur that B/A eats and thrives on some chemically provided ions (there is a very large but) but this action is not a necessary one for the plant to uptake exactly the same ions as are being consumed by the B/A. In certain circumstances the B/A will be in competition with the plant for these nutrients. So it appears that plants can grow in this fashion without interaction by mineralizing B/A. It appears that the chemically provided ions (soluble N) completely bypass the microbial nutrient cycle.

    With natural or organic growing, N ( R-NH2 ) for the plant is contained (sequestered) in a non-soluble (non-ionic) form in organic matter (or in the case of the gardener; compost, soil foods). It is true that there are certain known bacteria (and now some archaea) which directly fix and supply ionic forms of N to the roots of plants and this is an area where we are still learning so all is not known by any stretch. However soil scientists have discovered and it is common knowledge (as knowledge goes) that the bulk of NH4+ and NO3- are delivered to the roots of plants by protozoa (flagellates, amoebae and ciliates). This occurs in a complex network ostensibly, controlled in large degree by the plant. The plant releases compounds from the roots which feed B/A, thereby increasing the B/A population. The B/A consumes/processes forms of R-NH2 or forms which are pre-degraded by fungi and or other B/A. The B/A further multiply with a good supply of food and their large population encourages the excysting (hatching from cysts) and dividing of protozoa. The protozoa prey upon the B/A and in an approximate 30 minute period complete the excretion of NH4+ and/or NO3- available to the roots of the plants. Apparently protozoa only utilize 30 to 40 percent of the nutrient consumed (60 to 70% available to plants) and many have a division cycle of 2 hours so the efficiency of this nutrient delivery system is considerable. Just as it began, the microbial N cycle can be rapidly shut down by molecular emissions from the plant. It is apparent that the nutrient needs of the plant can change within short periods (perhaps in hours). There is much yet unknown, however even disease control may be effected by a sudden reduction of N in the rhizoshere. This is certainly something which cannot be effectively manipulated by chemical N applications and the leaching of unused N is potentially exacerbated.

    My goal in writing this was to illustrate the stark differences between the use by a plant of chemically provided ions and those derived through the microbial nutrient cycle. I believe I have succeeded. There are other ways which plants obtain N, such as through fungal interactions but that is nature; always have a back up.

    I did fail to find information detailing the effects of chemical soluble N on protozoa populations. Although we humans have great confidence in our ability to mimic natural molecules sometimes we discover it is the subtle variances going unnoticed which end up having the greatest effects.

    Following are some sources of information and research papers. I noticed that some of these are still for sale so I hesitate to post them (I can’t remember where I got some) but if you dig you may find them freely posted. (Try ‘New Phytology’).

    Protozoa and plant growth:
    the microbial loop in soil revisited
    Michael Bonkowski
    Rhizosphere Ecology Group, Institut für Zoologie, Technische Universität Darmstadt,
    Schnittspahnstr. 3, D-64287 Darmstadt, Germany

    From the book; Modern Soil Microbiology
    Chapter 6; Protozoa and Other
    Protista in Soil
    Marianne Clarholm, Michael Bonkowski,
    and Bryan Griffiths

    Soil protozoa: an under-researched microbial group gaining momentum
    Marianne Clarholm
    Department of Forest Mycology and Pathology, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU), Box 7026, S-750 07 Uppsala, Sweden
    Soil Biology & Biochemistry 37 (2005) 811–817

    Soil microbial loop and nutrient uptake by plants: a test
    using a coupled C:N model of plant–microbial interactions
    Xavier Raynaud Jean-Christophe Lata
    Paul W. Leadley
    Plant Soil
    DOI 10.1007/s11104-006-9003-9

    SOIL BIOTA, SOIL SYSTEMS, AND PROCESSES
    David C. Coleman
    University of Georgia

    http://www2.mcdaniel.edu/Biology/eco...ochemical.html

    http://cru.cahe.wsu.edu/CEPublicatio...22/eb1722.html


    ______________________________ _______
    Here is another link which may be helpful

    http://www.ipm.iastate.edu/ipm/icm/1...7/nitfert.html

    ______________________________

    I'm not saying that NPK do not exist but the (standard) measurements of them do not test for the sequestered amounts. If you wish to test to see if your plant is getting nutrients, test the leaf tissue. I discovered through experience that the whole N shifting to P thing for veg to flower is unecessary and possibly counterproductive in natural growing. I got just as good production using only vermicompost, fish hydrolysate and compost tea as I did sweating out the whole N & P veg/flower thing.
    Attached Files
    ****************************** *******************
    “If only ignorant and gullible people accepted far-fetched ideas, little else would be needed to explain the abundance of folly in modern society.” ~ Barry L. Beyerstein

    "When the facts change, I change my mind.
    What do you do, sir?"

    ~John Maynard Keynes~

    The thing which man is most sure of, is man's greatest mystery.....gravity. ~ tjw

    #2
    thanks Mm! - look forward to reading this in detail

    plant looks great!

    V.
    My contributions to this website in no way imply support for any political or cultural views promoted here.
    -----
    To the large and singular furniture of this noble island i have added from foreign places all the variety of herbs and flowers that i might any way obtain. I've laboured with the soil to make it fit for plants, and with the plants that they might delight in the soil - so they might live and prosper under our climate as in their native and proper country.
    Gerard's Herbal (1636)

    Comment


      #3
      I think it's already safe to say this should become a sticky. People are fairly clueless in general when you try to tell them NPK is near totally useless for organic gardening. How long things take to break down, what they break down into, what feeds on what, all matters in ways a simple NPK rating can never really do justice to. I do think we need a more simple standard for organics, but NPK is clearly not it.
      ---------------------------------------------
      My newest grow diary: 400W CMH + 256W T8. Multi-strain perpetual organic

      My Grow Diary(finished)

      T-8 only grow cab, taking shoplights to the extreme(finished)

      "This coir smells so good I'm having a growgasm!" - Me

      Comment


        #4
        Originally posted by VerdantGreen View Post
        thanks Mm! - look forward to reading this in detail

        plant looks great!

        V.
        FYI that is one of my 18 inch plants grown in old living soil as described in that guano thread.
        ****************************** *******************
        “If only ignorant and gullible people accepted far-fetched ideas, little else would be needed to explain the abundance of folly in modern society.” ~ Barry L. Beyerstein

        "When the facts change, I change my mind.
        What do you do, sir?"

        ~John Maynard Keynes~

        The thing which man is most sure of, is man's greatest mystery.....gravity. ~ tjw

        Comment


          #5
          one more reason to let nature do all the work. give her what she needs and nature will do everything else.

          all of this information and more is in the links and posts in the organic fanatic collective sticky, problem is most people are looking for "products and recipes" rather than learning how the soil actually works and don't read the good stuff.
          “Everything is written in the book of nature. This book is always open.” sepp holzer

          Comment


            #6
            Sticky +1

            K+1!

            Great work Microbeman!


            Jack

            Comment


              #7
              When should we start the flushing process? And what should the water PH be adjusted to for this process?

              One minute I held the key
              Next the walls were closed on me
              And I discoverd that my castles stand
              Upon pillars of salt and pillars of sand

              Comment


                #8
                Originally posted by Clackamas Coot View Post
                When should we start the flushing process? And what should the water PH be adjusted to for this process?

                Wise ass.
                ****************************** *******************
                “If only ignorant and gullible people accepted far-fetched ideas, little else would be needed to explain the abundance of folly in modern society.” ~ Barry L. Beyerstein

                "When the facts change, I change my mind.
                What do you do, sir?"

                ~John Maynard Keynes~

                The thing which man is most sure of, is man's greatest mystery.....gravity. ~ tjw

                Comment


                  #9
                  okay I have a question.... I was reading on a canna's website about the bio-canna line. and it sounded like they were sugesting that plant extracted nutriets are immediately available to the plant compared to animal byproduct which need to be broke down. did i read into it wrong? it sure sounded like they were saying that plant extracted nutes didn't need to be broke down.

                  Comment


                    #10
                    Originally posted by jonnygotah View Post
                    okay I have a question.... I was reading on a canna's website about the bio-canna line. and it sounded like they were sugesting that plant extracted nutriets are immediately available to the plant compared to animal byproduct which need to be broke down. did i read into it wrong? it sure sounded like they were saying that plant extracted nutes didn't need to be broke down.
                    I did find it a little difficult to navigate the Canna website and find information sequentially expressed. However, I did find the following statements which seem to indicate they know they cannot get away with saying their nutrients are uptaken directly, (except for residual as occurrs with many organic substances) bypassing the microbial loop;

                    "BIOCANNA has been developed from the point of view of organic farming and is also based on direct as well as indirect nutrition to the plant. This means that BIOCANNA products stimulate the microflora around the roots, which helps the plant absorb the necessary nutrients and also protects the plant's root environment. A complex ecosystem is created, and it is kept in balance at all times by the plants in conjunction with other organisms. "
                    The terms microflora and organisms is in reference to the microbial activity I described. This microbial activity as described by me is simply an explanation of how organic (natural) growing works. It is not new and likely we will discover much more concerning the mechanics as more research is done.

                    "The wider the biodiversity, the wider the number of organism types. The main advantage of the presence of many organisms is the huge stability of the ecosystems they help form. When a system with a wide biodiversity becomes unbalanced, the organisms within seek a new balance. Because BIOCANNA products increase the biodiversity of the root environment, this environment is better protected against fluctuations"
                    This also indicates they know it is microbial activity which feeds and protects the plant.

                    I could not find any really clear language. If you have, please quote it or provide a link. Most of the wording seemed of the sales pitch type. As I mentioned earlier, it is advantageous to these companies to perpetuate the idea that we feed plants directly with organics.
                    ****************************** *******************
                    “If only ignorant and gullible people accepted far-fetched ideas, little else would be needed to explain the abundance of folly in modern society.” ~ Barry L. Beyerstein

                    "When the facts change, I change my mind.
                    What do you do, sir?"

                    ~John Maynard Keynes~

                    The thing which man is most sure of, is man's greatest mystery.....gravity. ~ tjw

                    Comment


                      #11
                      thanks microbe, this should definitely be a sticky.

                      It would help us all to stop thinking along the conventional NPK paradigm, for sure. My hope is that organic folks can still think of Nitrogen, Potassium, and Phosphorous as building blocks in part of a web. So for instance, when feeding a worm bin or compost pile it is best to balance between parts of plants that are high in each one. If you do that you will most likely be getting all the other goodies, like chromium and molybdenum. But if you just feed grass clippings you will have a not so balanced compost.

                      I call leaves "N", root veggies "K" and I call fruits "P". It's merely a way to keep things sorted.

                      Labels are only as useful or harmful as we make them.

                      Comment


                        #12
                        Originally posted by Microbeman View Post
                        Wise ass.
                        What we don't flush? And I was wanting to check my run off PH..


                        That was funny you two.



                        Jack

                        Comment


                          #13
                          its an interesting read, as i understand it the NPK value is the percentage of those elements in the dry weight of what is being measured, and your objection to this is that its doesnt make any indication of what proportion of that value is available to the plants in the short term and what proportion is available in the longer term?

                          just to get something else clear to me (if you dont mind) - you are saying that using synthetic nutrients will kill the microherd by means of starving it of it's food rather than poisoning it in some way?

                          i found the part about plants feeding the microbes by releasing nitrogen very interesting - i wasnt aware of that, and i would concur about chemically fed plants being more susceptable to disease - certainly powdery mildew and sap eating insects such as aphids.

                          but i would still say that NPK is a reasonable system for indicating what nutrients are contained in any particular additive - the actual numbers may not mean a great deal but the basic info is still a useful thing imo. a system whereby more detailed info was given would be inherently more complicated and any organic gardener worth his salt (ha ha) should be aware of the general action of most additives ie. if it is fast or slow acting.

                          V.
                          My contributions to this website in no way imply support for any political or cultural views promoted here.
                          -----
                          To the large and singular furniture of this noble island i have added from foreign places all the variety of herbs and flowers that i might any way obtain. I've laboured with the soil to make it fit for plants, and with the plants that they might delight in the soil - so they might live and prosper under our climate as in their native and proper country.
                          Gerard's Herbal (1636)

                          Comment


                            #14
                            I don't believe I said that the plant feeds the microbes N. If I did it was not intentional. It is a form of carbon actually.

                            I think you don't get my point. The N which is measured in an organic substance, with the testing done on fertilizers, does not illustrate the actual N which is derived from that substance in organic growing. As MJ has pointed out the more important factor is the range of raw products which was used to create a compost or vermicompost. In compost, the correct ratio of Carbon to Nitrogen being most important. Really an organic substance measuring 2-1-1 can in actuality end up supplying more N than an organic substance measuring 5-1-1.

                            The fast or slow acting concept in terms of my discussion is not all that applicable. I was discussing chemicals (ions) bypassing the microbial nutrient cycle. The mycrobial nutrient cycle is not necessarily slow. Immediate uptake is just a term to imply no microbial interaction is involved. Actually it seems more difficult to put the brakes on chemical fertilizers.

                            Although it may be that certain chemical fertilizers may have a toxic effect on certain microbes, the depletion of the soil microbial life, likely occurs over a period of time, similar to what I hypothesized.
                            ****************************** *******************
                            “If only ignorant and gullible people accepted far-fetched ideas, little else would be needed to explain the abundance of folly in modern society.” ~ Barry L. Beyerstein

                            "When the facts change, I change my mind.
                            What do you do, sir?"

                            ~John Maynard Keynes~

                            The thing which man is most sure of, is man's greatest mystery.....gravity. ~ tjw

                            Comment


                              #15
                              Originally posted by Microbeman View Post
                              I don't believe I said that the plant feeds the microbes N. If I did it was not intentional. It is a form of carbon actually.
                              you are right, i got my wires crossed, i meant that it was interesting that the plants themselves take an active part in sustaining the microbes that then help feed it

                              Originally posted by Microbeman View Post
                              I think you don't get my point. The N which is measured in an organic substance, with the testing done on fertilizers, does not illustrate the actual N which is derived from that substance in organic growing. As MJ has pointed out the more important factor is the range of raw products which was used to create a compost or vermicompost. In compost, the correct ratio of Carbon to Nitrogen being most important. Really an organic substance measuring 2-1-1 can in actuality end up supplying more N than an organic substance measuring 5-1-1.
                              no i understand that, but my point is that the numbers, even though inaccurate, still indicate what the primary nutrients rich in that additive are.

                              my priorities are to encourage as many people as possible to use organic methods - which we all agree are more sustainable and less damaging to the planet, as well as giving tastier smoke and more nutritious food. in using the npk system, organics imo are more accessible to those that are presently using chem ferts because they will be familiar with the system.

                              if you are serious about developing another system (i presume you are or what is the point of pointing up the inaccuracies of the npk system?) then perhaps it would be better to come up with a labelling system for organic ferts/amendments that can run alongside the npk system rather than trying to replace it? as people learn more they will realise that the taylor made organic system is better.

                              cheers

                              V.
                              My contributions to this website in no way imply support for any political or cultural views promoted here.
                              -----
                              To the large and singular furniture of this noble island i have added from foreign places all the variety of herbs and flowers that i might any way obtain. I've laboured with the soil to make it fit for plants, and with the plants that they might delight in the soil - so they might live and prosper under our climate as in their native and proper country.
                              Gerard's Herbal (1636)

                              Comment

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