An effective alternative to soil sterilisation
Soil gets worked hard in organic commercial production and, over time, it can build up with pathogens, pests and diseases. Growers often sterilise soil at the end of the season but this practice leaves the next season’s crops more vulnerable than before. Our enriched biochar products are a more effective alternative…
Sterilisation is a cost-effective technique to control some soil-borne pathogens, pests and weeds, which is why it’s become a widespread practice. As the name of the process suggests, sterilising soil will wipe out harmful living organisms but, as the process cannot differentiate between harmful and beneficial microbes, the net result can leave soil more vulnerable to re-infection in the long-term.
Beneficial micro-organisms help to maintain the stability of a growing system by out-competing pests and pathogens; problems most commonly occur when the balance between the pathogens and the biological populations are unequal. By sterilising soil and wiping out soil’s only real defence, you could be allowing for easier re-infection from just the thing you were trying to control!
A traditional solution to this problem would be to rotate crops, plant green manures and add organic matter to ensure the soil is healthy post-sterilisation. Increasing the quantity and effectiveness of the beneficial organisms in the soil can reduce the effects of pathogens, such as nematodes, by feeding on them before they have a negative impact on plant health.
A far more efficient approach would be to stop sterilising all together and boost the populations of beneficial fungi and bacteria in soil to actively control pest issues in the first place. Progressive growers throughout Europe are already adopting this approach by using our enriched biochar products.
Our enriched biochar products, such as Soil Improver, are readily enriched with species of mycorrhizae, seaweed, wormcasts and different strains of Trichoderma to create a naturally healthy living soil – allowing extensive microbial populations to thrive.
Applying enriched biochar to soil instead of sterilising it naturally increases crop vitality and reduces losses with early flowering and higher yields as evidenced in extensive professional grower trials in the UK and Europe.
All of this adds up to healthier growing environments, quicker establishment and root growth at propagation, increased crop vitality and reduced transplant shock.
By keeping soils biologically healthy, growers keep their crop yields high. As growing technology progresses, even the most efficient and widespread practices can be improved upon. By exploring new approaches and embracing R&D, growers can improve their yields, nutrient efficiency and reduce losses. So here’s to building beneficial biology rather than wiping it out altogether.