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Updated look at soil fertility offered through Maharishi Vedic Organic Agriculture course
by Global Good News staff writer
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1 September 2012
According to a course in Maharishi Vedic Organic Agriculture, which has been offered in many countries in the past few years, almost all soils are full of nutrients. This renders outdated the previous, deeply entrenched understanding in agriculture, that soil fertility is limited. The challenge becomes how to make all those nutrients available.
Dr Peter Swan, creator and instructor of the course, devotes a lesson to soil biology and its effect on soil fertility.
See related article: Course on Maharishi Vedic Organic Agriculture highlights positive worldwide trends
Dr Swan spoke of the prevalent idea in big agricultural businesses. 'The teaching from chemical agriculture is that soil fertility is very limited.'
But this idea seems to be false, Dr Swan said. 'Now we have a new understanding that actually, every soil that has been tested to date has many times the amount of actual nutrients needed for plants. The availability of the nutrients just depends on the soil biology.'
How to improve soil biology? One easy way is to add compost to the soil, thus ensuring the nutrients become available.
Even on an average hectare of farm land, there is a huge amount of soil biology, Dr Swan explained. About 14 tons per hectare of land is made up of various kinds of microorganisms and living matter, including 4 tons of bacteria, 5 tons of fungi, 1 ton algae, 1 ton protozoa and nematodes, and 1 ton of arthropods. In addition, there is anywhere from 2 to 10 tons of earthworms, depending on the quality of the soil.
'Together with the plants, these organisms are what create the fertility in the soil,' Dr Swan said.
But how is this fertility created in the first place?
It happens through a cycle that starts with photosynthesis. Plants take the energy of the sun and they create carbohydrates, starches, proteins, and fat. Much of this they push down through and out their roots as exudates. In fact, 20-80% of what the plants produce through photosynthesis comes out the roots as exudates.
These exudates feed the microorganisms that are collected at the plant's roots, which are in turn eaten by grazers and predators. The leftover minerals from this process provide the plant with nutrients.
Thus, in Dr Swan's words, the cycle 'uses the sun's energy for fueling this process of creating a more and more fertile world'.
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