Solar Harvest Farm     Steve & Michelle Heyer  Richie, Sheri & Sarah   7432 Marsh Road, Waterford, WI 53185
Phone: 262-662-5278  ·   Email: solarharvestfarm@yahoo.com
    Website: www.solarharvestfarm.com
20th Century
21st Century
The NPK philosophy was derived in the 1840’s. Some twenty years later, it’s author, Justin von Liebig  recanted his NPK philosophy, having recognizing the shortsightedness of his theory.  This was to no avail as  an entire industry had already established itself.

The NPK philosophy basically states that nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium were all the elements plants needed.  With more than 150 years of experience as evidence, the NPK philosophy has in fact produced substantial yields.  While there are many who will argue that these harvests are empty harvests - crops  which were produced on primarily quantitative criteria with food quality being an accidental consequence, this has become a moot point.  NPK in conjuction with Haber-Bosch nitrogen has lead to bankrupt soils (dirt) and depleted resources. It is dependent upon a volatile, finite resource.   We’ve built our subsistence upon a house of cards.

It’s not accurate to say that these industrial processes were intended to treat the soil like dirt.  As these processes go, they simply did not require the services of the soil for any purpose other than to support plant roots.  The industrial process is indifferent towards soil life.  If components of the soil could be utilized to a benefit while still allowing the use of water soluble chemicals and salt-based fertilizers, the potential was capitalized upon.

It’s premise was and remains a matter of feeding the plant roots.

It’s mantra was and continues to be:

“Nitrogen is nitrogen.”  
“The plant doesn’t know the difference”.

As we progress through these pages, we will expose just how 19th Century this thinking is.
In one acre healthy soil:
2600 lbs of bacteria.   
1300 lbs of Actinomycetes
2600 lbs of Fungi.
90 lbs of algae.
90 lbs of protazoa.
45 lbs of nematodes.
445 lbs of earthworms.
830 lbs of arthropods.
Known world species:
4,888 species.  (Some say 20K!)
1,460 species.
75,000 species.
11,000 species.
65,000 species.
600 species.
7,260 species.
>500,000 species
The functions and interactions of the above are staggering yet we do understand very much already:

• Plants secrete carbs & proteins through their roots.
• Certain organisms are attracted to this feeding zone.
• These organisms excrete  nutrients into the root feeding zone.
• Bacteria produce bioslime binding soil particles together.
• Bioslime creates a mobile protective zone for bacteria.
• Bioslime traps pathogens -forms protective layers around roots.
• Bioslime moves pH towards alkaline.
• Bacteria prefer alkaline and like their N in nitrate form.
• Fungi prefer acidic and like their N in ammonium form.

Each type of plant has an optimum pH - not because of chemistry pH but because the plant depends upon certain bacteria and fungi which proliferate in their specific optimum pH.

“Nitrogen is nitrogen”?
Not according to the soil biology.

We’ve learned so much about our natural world here on Earth that we often muse that space is the final frontier.  Yet as the species  responsible for resource management, we remain indifferent or ignorant in regards to the incredibly vast array of life forms which exists just inches below our feet.  The alien beings depicted on Star Trek could just as easily be cast by Earth-bound soil microbes in a hypothetical Soil Trek adventure.   If Scotty were to “beam us down” to the scale of bacteria, the most populous inhabitant of this soil planet, and we were lucky enough to avoid being eaten by gigantic protazoans and nematodes, we’d witness the inner workings of an alien world which, for their own mutual benefit, make life possible in our realm here above ground.