Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Combating mico toxins at Grass Roots

Ever wondered why our horses seem to reacting to pasture grasses, have a far higher incidence of staggers, cancers, headshaking syndrome, strange neurological disorders, resistant strains of mudfever, viruses etc. These all caused directly or indirectly by pathogens on our pastures. A pasture growing on a healthy soil will have the roots systems and the leaf surfaces covered with a mantle of beneficial micro-flora making it impossible for pathogens to get a foot hold. (photo of rich worm lechate that can be diluted and sprayed on to pasture)

It is Really Quite Simple and Cost Effective
Microflora is a buzz word for a host of therapies some of which include yoghurts fortified with a range of beneficial bacteria, mouth washes to combat bad breath and so forth. The biggest market omission up till now is the soil, upon which our very existence depends

Bringing the soil back to health and into balance is simple yet deceptively complex. In short increasing the level of microbiological activity in the soil will provide a host of benefits not least, the reduced need for fertilisers, irrigation and expensive drugs for our livestock.

What is Soil Microbiology
Soil microbiology refers to the organisms that live in the soil and some of them are:
Bacteria, fungi, protozoa, nematodes, mycorrhizal fungi, flagellates, ciliates, amoeba, mites. Lastly, while not strictly micro biology but non-the-less very important, the earth worm.

How we can Increase the Microbiology of our Soils?

  • By increasing the humus content of our soil. by broadcasting a thin layer of compost to the pasture.

  • Applying a biologically active compost tea to the pasture.

  • By growing a green manure crop formulated to encourage the correct ratios of fungi to bacteria.
  • Aerating the subsoil will reduce compaction and thatching. This can be done mechanically with an aerator which injects a chemical oxygenator, compost tea, fulvic acid and humic acid some 600mm below the soil surface.
  • Thermo-composting (mcrobiological respiration and activity generate sufficient heat to kill weed seeds and pathogen) all collected horse manure, adding it to a bark chip pile and re-applying it to your pasture.

  • By developing a worm farm(The Warehouse has good home worm farms) and spraying the mineral rich liquid onto your pasture. We add kelp granules to the worm farm to get a natural fertiliser.

  • Spray worm leachate (photo above) over your pasture and vege plants. interstingly pests are not attracted to healthy foliage as it gives off an amine that detracts pests and pathogens.
  • This rich brown liquid is collected in the bottom chamber and consists of solubilized minerals, humic acid and some microbiology. This can be diluted and watered onto nursery plants, fruit trees, vegetable gardens or sprayed onto your paddock.

    The Benefits of Soil Microbiology
  • Nutrients are retained in the soil because they do not leach out or volatilize from the soil.
  • bacteria exude a slime that ‘glues’ nitrogen compounds to the surface.
  • The beneficial microbiology over leaf surface will out-compete mycotoxins.
  • The microbiology cycles nutrients into the right form to the root system.
  • microbiology build soil structure so that oxygen, water and other nutrients can move deep into the soil which turn will increase root mass and depth.
  • With the increased root mass, there is a reduced requirement for water as the plant will access it from deeper levels.
  • Deeper rooting systems will improve animal health by reducing the need for mineral supplementation .
  • Beneficial micro-organisms are able to suppress disease causing organisms by out-competing the pathogens.
  • The microbiology is able to stabilise soil pH by actually holding onto the lime within the exudates of fungi and bacteria.
  • Micro-organisms are able to degrade toxic materials into safer compounds. Stallions coming from industrialised countries have poor rates of fertility due to agricultural and industrial toxins in their system.
  • A healthy soil will help ‘pull’ horse parasites and eggs below the soil surface as part of the nutrient cycle.

How Modern Agriculture has Contributed to the Reduction in Microflora

  • By the excessive use of nitrogenous fertilisers.
  • Excessive use of some fertilisers which increase the salt index causing exosmosis.
  • Anthelmintics (chemical wormers ) that have gone through the horse’s digestive tract onto the pasture to kill beneficial nematodes, predatory mites to name a few.
  • The routine use of copper sulphate and copper as part of horse management which when is excreted onto pasture will kill micro-biology.
  • The use of heavy machinery to cultivate the land compacts the soil making it anaerobic.
  • By keeping our pastures ‘clean’ without the diversity of plant life. Horses do far better on well selected ‘weeds’

What is Compost Tea?
Put simply compost tea is to pasture what yogurt is to our digestive tract.
While compost is terrific stuff, compost tea is even better. In short compost tea is made by steeping compost in water, nutrients and oxygen. It's used as either a foliar spray or a soil drench.
The advantage of spraying this biologically active liquid on the leaves, that it helps suppress foliar diseases, increases the amount of nutrients available to the plant, and speeds the breakdown of toxins. Using compost tea has even been shown to increase the nutritional quality Why don’t insects and diseases ‘like’ healthy plants? Put simply a healthy plant puts out chemicals that make them unattractive to them but even better compost tea will help kill off the pathogens.

How a Biologically Active Tea can Reduce the Incidence of Mycotoxins Staggers, Mud Fever Staggers
The disease is caused by the ingestion of a toxin produced by a fungus (or endophyte) in perennial ryegrass. The highest concentrations of toxin are in the leaf sheath and seed head.The toxin has a specific damaging effect on the cells in the cerebellum of the brain that coordinate movement. Beneficial microbiology will out-compete the fungi responsible for producing the toxin and immobilise its effect. And don't forget to increase magnesium supplementation!
Mud Fever
Is a bacterial infection caused by the pathogen actinomycete Dermatophilus congolens. Compost tea will help reduce its incidence and a horse grazing on a healthy pasture will have a good immune system.