FAQ

ASK YOUR QUESTION: info@earthfort.com

Soil Biology

Soil microbiology is the microscopic community of organisms that play a vital role in determining productive soil characteristics and a healthy habitat for plant growth and long term establishment. The most productive soil systems have balanced populations of flourishing organisms, including bacteria, fungi, protozoa and nematodes. Bacteria and fungi break down and consume the organic matter and mineral content of soils, creating a storehouse of nutrients that are released slowly over time. Predatory organisms, such as protozoa and nematodes, consume the bacteria and fungi, releasing nutrients into the root zone of your plants naturally. They consume and/or out compete disease-causing organisms along the way, helping manage pathogenic populations and reduce monetary loss from infections.
~ Reduced water usage
~ Improved nutrient cycling
~ Increased drought resistance
~ Deeper root growth
~ Improved soil structure (less compaction)
~ Increased disease resistance
Succession is the process of change in the species structure of an ecological community over time. A plant community gradually or rapidly replacing another can result from developmental changes in the ecosystem itself; or from disturbances such as wind, fire, volcanic activity, insects and disease, or harvest. Different plants require different ratios of fungi and bacteria, based on their successional growth traits. The biological approach seeks to match crops with their ideal soil habitat and associated microbial communities. Some plants are naturally acclimated to fungally-dominated forest soils; others are acclimated to grasslands that are more bacterially-dominated. The biology in the soil can enhance or impede plant growth based on the symbiotic or antagonistic relationships between microbes and plants. Conditioning the soil’s biology to compliment a specific crop will increase nutrient uptake, and can give the desired crop an edge over weeds they try to compete against.
Broccoli/Cabbage (Strongly bacterial)
Row Crops/Tomatoes/Grasses (Slightly bacterial)
Berries* (Equal bacteria and fungi)
Broadleaf Trees/Shrubs/Vines (2-10 times more fungal) [Note: Grapevines, blueberries (and other Ericaceous berries and shrubs), kiwi, and snowbrush are considered to be in the shrub/vine category due to their fungal needs.] Conifers (100+ more fungal than bacterial)
Compost is decayed organic material

Modern, methodical composting is a multi-step, closely monitored process with measured inputs of water, air and carbon- and nitrogen-rich materials. The decomposition process is aided by shredding the plant matter, adding water and ensuring proper aeration by regularly turning the mixture. Worms and fungi further break up the material. Aerobic bacteria manage the chemical process by converting the inputs into heat, carbon dioxide and ammonium. Ammonium is further converted by bacteria into plant-nourishing nitrites and nitrates through the process of nitrification.

The quickest and best way to know if you have enough spores is to plant then take a sample of the roots and have it tested for mycorrhizal colonization. No matter how many spores you add, they must colonize roots to be successful. Low to no colonization rates can occur if spores are not within close range of roots when they germinate. If they are not in close proximity to roots, they will die. If your soil is in good health, the mycorrhizal colonization process happens naturally. If you get the fungal and bacteria counts in balance and have good numbers of protozoa, mycorrhizal colonization will take place without any product inputs.
For row crops, vegetables, grass, most berries, shrubs and deciduous trees, vesicular-arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (VAM) are the fungi of choice, while conifers and some late-successional deciduous trees require ectomycorrhizal fungi. Ericaceous plants, such as blueberries and rhododendrons, need Ericoid mycorrhizae. Earthfort tests for all three forms of mycorrhizal colonization.

Soil Testing

By knowing the current soil biology you are able to make adjustments that are more suitable for the desired crop, which will maximize crop production. Ongoing monitoring ensures optimal conditions throughout the growing season and leads to reduced dependency on fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides and fungicides which is more environmentally friendly and saves production costs. When using less traditional fertilizers you lessen the amount of salt in the soil which in turn requires less water consumption. In addition, good biology lessens soil compaction creating room for deeper root systems. Read More Here:
Why Test Article PDF
Earthfort specializes in soil biology; we believe if you can measure it, you can manage it. We have been measuring biology since the laboratory opened in 1996. We use proven methods of direct count microscopy which are referenced under our assay descriptions. Our Essential test assesses the moisture level (in soils and composts), total and active bacteria, total and active fungi, presence of aerobic protozoa; we can also test for nematodes (identified to Genus), E. coli, mycorrhizal colonization, and nitrogen cycling potential. see our testing order form for more details. After testing is completed, Earthfort provides a telephone report interpretation for those customers new to interpreting data. If requested, we are able to provide remediation consulting for those who want assistance on the practical application of soil amendments (fees may apply.)
No. We do not identify individual species of micro-organisms. We can test for colony forming units of Escherichia coli (E. coli) in soils, composts, and liquid amendments such as compost tea. We also can identify nematodes to Genus, only.
Please see our Sampling Instructions for instructions on sampling soil or solid (such as compost) and liquid (such as compost tea) amendments.

INTERNATIONAL CLIENTS:
Call our office 541-257-2612 (or email info@earthfort.com) to request an official USDA PPQ Form 599 customs permit for sample shipping purposes prior to taking samples. Failing to follow USDA requirements for packaging and shipping of samples can result in delays in samples arriving at our lab and substantial fines up to $300,000 US dollars.

DOMESTIC CLIENTS:

For our instructions page on packaging soil or compost for shipment within the continental United States,Alaska and Hawaii click here.
For our instructions page on packaging liquid (such as compost tea) amendments for shipment within the continental United States, Alaska and Hawaii Click here

INTERNATIONAL CLIENTS:

For instructions on packaging soils, composts and liquid amendments for shipment from outside the United States, Click here You MUST request an official USDA PPQ Form 599 customs permit from Earthfort for your package before you ship your samples to us, and pay for shipping from your location to the USDA in San Francisco, California as well as shipping from San Francisco, California to our lab in Corvallis, Oregon. Please call our office 541-257-2612 or email us at info@earthfort.com for more information. Failing to follow USDA requirements for packaging and shipping of samples can result in delays in samples arriving at our lab and substantial fines up to $300,000 US dollars. Please call our office at 541-257-2612 if you have any questions about shipping samples to us internationally.

After taking your soil or amendment sample, (see instructions above) fill out our Testing Order Form. Plan to ship the samples the same day you gathered them, if possible. If you must store samples until the next day, keep them refrigerated. Do not freeze your samples, as the freezing and thawing will kill many of the microbes.
Ship your soil and compost samples so they will arrive within 3-4 days at our lab. Compost teas should be shipped by next day air to our location. Send sample to: Earthfort 635 SW Western Blvd Corvallis, OR 97333.

IMPORTANT NOTE TO INTERNATIONAL CLIENTS: Complete our foreign testing order form. Also, you MUST request an official USDA PPQ Form 599 customs permit from Earthfort for your package before you ship your samples to us, and pay for shipping from your location to the USDA in San Francisco, California as well as shipping from San Francisco, California to our lab in Corvallis, Oregon. Please call our office 541-257-2612 or email us at info@earthfort.com for more information. Failing to follow USDA requirements for packaging and shipping of samples can result in delays in samples arriving at our lab and fines up to $300,000 US dollars. Please call our office at 541-257-2612 if you have any question.

There are two times you do not want to pull a soil sample for biological testing: when the ground is frozen or water logged. Other than that, anytime will provide a good profile of the soil relative to the target crop.

OUR PRODUCTS ProVide & ReVive

Absolutely! Our products are certified organic through the Washington State Department of Agriculture (WSDA) as part of the National Organics Program (NOP) of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). It is advised to consult with your state’s own certifying agency prior to use as each state and country has slightly different rules and requirements. We can work directly with certifying agencies in your area to meet the required standards, contact us at 541-257-2612.
We work with conventional growers around the world, these products can enhance the system to allow for a more sustainable and efficient system. It is advised to contact us for best practices of integration; also, if you already have crop advisors and agronomists, we work directly with them to create a customized solution based on your needs.
These products were designed to be applied through any method that water can be applied; spray rigs, irrigation, overhead, drip-line, fertigation and aerial. Any type of pump can be utilized. Please note that these are natural products with some particulate matter; use 40 mesh (400 microns) or larger as finer meshes may clog. It is not recommended to utilize equipment that has been used for fungicide or pesticide applications as these products can kill or damage the beneficial organisms and substances our products contain. Also, compatibility testing is advised when tank mixing with other soil amendments and fertilizers. See our suggested general application rates here.

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