How Organic Matter Super Charges Your Plants Via the Rhizosphere
Most gardeners are familiar with terms like organic, in the sense that organic means the fertilizer we feed our plants is of a natural source. This natural source was likely derived from some ancient decaying plant, animal, or earth matter.
What does does this equate for our plants? The answer can be found in the Rhizosphere. The rhizosphere is the acute area surrounding the roots. This is where the roots and the soil make their exchange of essential nutrients that our plants absorb and distribute through out to create plant growth. Here is the trick… excluding boron, all of the 17 essential nutrients required for plant growth can only be absorbed in ionic form. OK, ions, nutrient exchange, this may seem a bit overwhelming. Take your time and read it twice, even three times. All ionic form means is that the nutrient has an electric charge. All Ions have either a positive or negative charge. Some nutrients are charged negative, some are charged positive, and some have a neutral charge. In order for our roots to absorb the required essential nutrient it must have an appropriate electric charge. The roots will absorb the ionic nutrient and release a hydrogen ion with the same charge into the rhizosphere. This is the exchange the roots and the soil make for every single nutrient our roots absorb. This is measured by the (Cation Exchange Capacity or CEC)
"By using fertilizers with unnaturally high amounts of nutrients like nitrogen we can destroy the beneficial microbes and fungi that live in our rhizosphere"
So what happens if the nutrients the plant requires has a neutral charge or an inappropriate ionic charge and how can we make them available to our plants? Here is where organic fertilizer versus inorganic fertilizer becomes a heavy factor. Bacteria and fungi are the catalysts that make nutrients available to our plant that are other wise unavailable. Beneficial microbes and fungi can improve our soil’s CEC. Beneficial microbes and fungi ingest these nutrients and decompose them into an ionic form the roots can absorb. Inorganic fertilizers can unfortunately knock down bacteria and fungi populations with friendly fire. By using fertilizers with unnaturally high amounts of nutrients like nitrogen we can destroy the beneficial microbes and fungi that live in our rhizosphere and maintain our Cation Exchange Capacity. In this process we are feeding our plants while simultaneously destroying the environment the plant depends on to absorb those nutrients. This is a catch 22. Organic fertilizers when used responsibly will supply our rhizosphere with more readily available nutrients without decimating our beneficial microbes, and fungi.
The truth of the matter is the rhizosphere is an exciting place that when healthy, contain millions of microorganisms that interact with the plant and each other much like people, plants, and animals above the surface depend on each other for survival. These millions of living beings live, eat, breed, and die all to the benefit of our gardens and ultimately our lives as we consume the delicious fruits, vegetables, and herbs those gardens provide.
For more information consider reading about Mycorrhizae and for sources to biological agriculture & horticulture products read about Quantum HSC which contains Spore Forming Beneficial Bacteria for a healthy rhizosphere.
Thanks for reading and happy gardening!