#39: Dr. Elaine Ingham – The Ecology of the Soil Food Web

#39: Dr. Elaine Ingham – The Ecology of the Soil Food Web Nature's Archive


If you’ve listened to more than a few of my podcast episodes, you’ve likely noticed some common themes. One in particular is that everything in nature is interconnected in multiple ways. And today’s episode demonstrates that in some mind bending ways.

What’s the topic? Well, it’s an often overlooked subject. If it is handled well, it will sequester carbon, reduce the impacts of droughts, improve our water quality, and probably save you money. And if you need another hint, when it is healthy it also makes your food more nutritious. By now you probably guessed the topic – soil ecology and the soil food web.

My guest today is Dr. Elaine Ingham. Dr. Ingham has over four decades of experience in soil biology, and is generally recognized as the foremost expert in the field. She is the primary author of the USDA Soil Biology Primer, and founder of Soil Food Web Inc, a group dedicated to empowering ordinary people to bring healthy soils back to life. Dr. Ingham has a B.A. in biology and chemistry from St. Olaf College, an M.S. in microbiology from Texas A&M University, and a Ph.D. in microbiology from Colorado State University.

Dr. Elaine Ingham

Our wide-ranging conversation only scratched the surface of soil ecology. As I said a moment ago, everything is interconnected, so it makes conversations like these somewhat challenging since, like soil ecology itself, everything inter-relates.

So what did we cover? Well, we talked about the difference between dirt and soil, which is an ecosystem unto itself, consisting of varying amounts of fungi, bacteria, predators, and parasites such as protozoa and nematodes. 

Dr. Elaine discusses the entire process of how fungi, bacteria, and other organisms convert soil nutrients to forms readily available to plants, and how plants actually induce this behavior through chemical signaling. She discusses how plants trade sugars for nutrients from fungi, and how these trades are dynamic and constantly adjusting. 

We dig deep into how to measure soil health, and this includes how to compost and how to assess both soil and compost with a microscope.

We surfaced from our microscopy deep dive to discuss easy shortcuts you can use to assess your own soil health and compost health without a microscope.

Dr. Elaine preparing a soil sample, as discussed in the episode

And we touched on many other topics, such as the impact of soil compaction, and the negative impacts of inorganic fertilizers.

Be sure to check out the show notes because some of the topics really require some visual aides. I’ve included a graphic provided by Dr. Elaine that summarizes the importance of soil health, as well as some videos showing Dr. Elaine’ technique for mixing your soil solution for the microscope, and a video of some spirilla bacteria – they’re pretty wild!

Did you have a question that I didn’t ask? Let me know at naturesarchivepodcast@gmail.com, and I’ll try to get an answer! I’ll add these Q&As to my monthly newsletter, so if you aren’t already subscribed, go here. I promise, no spam. I share the latest news from the world of Nature’s Archive, as well as pointers to new naturalist finds that have crossed my radar, like podcasts, books, websites, and more.

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People and Organizations

Soil Food Web School – look for the resources and classes mentioned in the episode

Soil Regen Summit 2022 – March 15, 2022. This is the Soil Summit Dr. Elaine mentioned.

Books and Other Things

Teaming with Microbes, The Organic Gardener’s Guide to the Soil Food Web, by Jeff Lowenfels and Wayne Lewis

USDA Soil Biology Primer – free online book, largely authored by Dr. Elaine.

Note: links to books are affiliate links

Music Credits

Opening – Fearless First by Kevin MacLoed

Closing – Beauty Flow by Kevin MacLoed

Both can be obtained from https://incompetech.filmmusic.io/


Transcripts are created automatically and are roughly 95% accurate. Apologies for any errors.

[00:00:00] Michael: Dr. Elaine, thank you for joining me today.

[00:00:02] Dr. Elaine: Glad to be here.

[00:00:03] Michael: You were actually requested by one of my listeners to join the podcast. I think I neglected to tell you that before. So I’m really happy that I’m finally able to cover this important topic.

[00:00:15] Dr. Elaine: Great. Great. Yeah. That’s Yeah. the fandom is out there.

[00:00:19] Michael: Yeah. So in general, I think that soil microbiology and soil health is one of the most underrepresented and most important aspects of our general environmental crises that we face today. And I’m hoping that we can get into many aspects of that today. And before we jump into that, I would like to learn a little bit about you.

[00:00:41] Can you tell me, how did you really first get interested in nature and how did that then translate to soil microbiome?

[00:00:48] Dr. Elaine: Well, it’s really comes from both of my parents really liked to be in the outdoors. We would go hiking. We would go on picnics. We would go and spend a weekend up in Northern Minnesota. I remember a couple of times where, you know, we, it was all hot late September kind of temperatures and went up to Northern Minnesota to hang out for the weekend in the forest to do some hikes do some swimming in the lake.

[00:01:16] And the first afternoon we were there, it was a perfect summer day. Just wonderful. And we all went swimming in the lake and. Yup. Got back into the tents and, we didn’t want our sleeping bags on because it was so hot. And sometime during the night, we all started pulling our sleeping bags back up over us and just started to freeze to death.

[00:01:39] By the time we got up, there was three inches of snow on the ground and no. were always out going out, doing that every year. I w when I could be trusted beyond my own my friends and I would go up to Northern Minnesota and canoe into the boundary waters and up into the Quantico. , Had some grand times I was always two or three weeks outdoors canoeing someplace, and, fishing for meals and things like that.

[00:02:08] My father was something of an Indiana Jones character. We went out to various places overseas even, and always interested in the wildlife, the organisms that we’re seeing. And I showed a definite predilection for understanding the microorganisms in the water and in the soil. The first microbiology class I took at college, I knew what I wanted to do for the rest of my life is to work on those microorganisms.

[00:02:37] When I started my PhD, though, it was really interesting that My major professor told me about the project that he wanted me to get involved in. And it was all about fungi. And how you measure active fungi. How do you determine total fungi getting into some of those fairly basic questions?

[00:02:58] He told me I had to go and speak to professors that were in the soil science growing plants, horticulturalists agronomists the soil, agronomy department and. Go and talk to all of them. And I remember every single one of them, I would go into their office, start talking about my project and this look would come over their face of it, lack of complete and total boredom because I, and I would finally ask, so what do you think of my project?

[00:03:30] Do you think it’s good enough for a PhD? And they said, well, technically it’s good enough for a PhD, but you shouldn’t do that work because you have to have a job lined up once you finish your PhD. And there’s not anybody going to hire you because the microorganisms in the soil and now they’re just.

[00:03:50] They don’t do anything. They don’t help plants in any way, shape or form. They just, now they come back after disturbance and there they’re just there. And I, that’s depressing when you, that’s kinda, your heart is set on doing these sorts of things and looking at an understanding biology in the soil, but at that time, the culture was not to be that domestic, or worrying about the house and how what mother nature meant for things to be happening in the soil. And I did have to take it back a bit in my life. Where, why was I so interested in these microorganisms, in the soil?

[00:04:31] And it was because we didn’t really understand. What it was, they did. And nature doesn’t have something hang around for 4 billion years. If there’s not some useful. They’re doing something it’s gotta be important or they wouldn’t still be hanging out

[00:04:51] so it was an uphill battle to convince people of why soil biology was so important. And it’s very satisfying to me to be here 45 years later and saying, finally, everybody is understanding how important biology in the soil is. We would not be here without those microorganisms in the soil.

[00:05:15] And we had better stop destroying them. If we want humans to survive, these organisms have to survive. So we got to get away from the pesticides and the inorganic fertilizers and the constant tillage and herbicide. Got to stop that, turn it around and get that carbon back in the soil where it belongs.

[00:05:38] Michael: I think your story is really instructive in a couple of different ways. One, sticking with something that, you know, there’s something there, but then also the lack of sort of first principles thinking that was demonstrated by those advisors that you had that you articulated really well, the fact that, well, why would these things be there after all this time, if they weren’t doing something useful, which I think we need to remind ourselves of like first principle thinking.

[00:06:03] Dr. Elaine: Yep. That even though professors that should be knowledgeable about soil, didn’t have the least clue of the most important thing. Back in the, 1970s, 1980s, they just turned a cold shoulder because, well, where did all their money come from? It wasn’t from the microorganisms. It was from all those chemical companies that made billions of dollars a year selling people, materials that would kill specifically destroy that biology in the soil.

[00:06:38] And they didn’t want people to understand. That’s what they were doing was destroying our soil and turning it into dirt.

[00:06:45] Michael: So actually that’s probably a really good lead in to what is healthy soil. You talked about soil turning into dirt. What’s the difference

[00:06:53] Dr. Elaine: well, when we’re looking at dirt, we’re just looking at the sand sale, clay rocks, pebbles, apparent material, boulders, those sorts of things. So when you’ve completely destroyed the biology, that’s supposed to be there. Now you’re dealing with dirt and good luck growing plants and dirt. So what is good soil?

[00:07:12] Well, you have to have the mineral component, the sand, the silt and clay, the rocks and pebbles, those sorts of things. But you also have to have organic matter in that soil and you have to have at least 3%. Organic matter, or you’re not going to get the benefit out of that organic matter being present. okay. . So why organic matter and why organic matter that is as diverse as you possibly can make it for your bioregion because that’s food. To grow the microorganisms. We have to have all of those organisms in the soil because we have to have oxygen moving down deeper and deeper into the soil.

[00:07:58] So that means your soil of all those sands seals, clays rocks, pebbles leaves, twigs. All that organic matter has to be built into some structure, take the individual particles and you start gluing them together. The bacteria make copious amounts of glue, lots of different kinds of glues in that soil so that they can build the micro aggregates and.

[00:08:24] Make well, I’d like to think of them as like individual houses. And then if you’re in a neighborhood that has lots and lots of bacteria better have apartment buildings and how tall is your apartment building going to get? So some of those micro aggregates get pretty much on the end of macro aggregates.

[00:08:45] And so to form the macro aggregates. So you have even more space between those micro aggregates. Let’s pull some of them together. So that’s fungal hyphae with their strands. They’ll pull this aggregate in this micro aggregate this other one in, and now we have aggregates that we can see with our eyes.

[00:09:06] And it is fungi that are most important for building that level of structure more space to allow oxygen and water and your roots to grow as deep down into the soil as necessary. If you want to not worry about your property burning, when there’s a wildfire going through, if you want to not have to apply massive amounts of water late in the growing season, when it gets very dry down, you need to have that structure and you need to have held all the extra water that came to your property at snow melt in the winter time, or as spring rains, you want to have all that extra water filling in.

[00:09:54] Or half saline, all of the pores, deeper and deeper down into the soil. When you look at most large conifer trees or large deciduous trees, their root systems go a hundred feet, 150 feet, 250 feet down into the ground. And thereafter that water in the late growing season so that they don’t die.

[00:10:19] Well, if you’ve killed the biology in your soil, you won’t have any of that structure. There’ll be lots of erosion. You’ll be losing your soil out into the rivers and lakes and streams. You will not be able to hold onto new trans. So there’s a lot of leaching of the soluble nutrients. We need these organisms.

[00:10:38] They do so many important things. I’ve only touched on a couple of them so far. I have a suspicion we’ll get to Omaha before we get done with the.

[00:10:48] with this podcast.

[00:10:49] Michael: Yeah, I think that’s a good start. And it’s a good visualization to where the roots of these plants wouldn’t really be able to get deeper in the first place if the soil so compacted, if you didn’t have the the fun guy, helping. So there’s two benefits provided simultaneously adding the space in the soil for the water to penetrate, and then also allowing the roots to to go so deep.

[00:11:11] In addition to what you just talked about, my understanding is that there’s a lot of symbiosis. There are different organisms working together in, good soil. For example, by bacteria that’s helping to unlock the nutrients within the soil. Is that accurate? And can you tell me a little bit about how that works?

[00:11:27] Dr. Elaine: Yeah, sure. There’s a lot of synergism going on in soil. It’s more the standard operating mode than it is to have the little things get eaten by the bigger things get eaten by the bigger Indian, that’s, it’s important in soil, but it’s much more important to be going through the symbiotic interactions.

[00:11:47] So there’s actually probably three things I want to cover in this making nutrients available to your. Section, because that’s such an important thing. And it’s because we’ve destroyed that biology in the soil. That’s why you have to use inorganic fertilizers. That’s why you have to use pesticides and herbicides.

[00:12:09] So it’s really critical that you get this part of the food web up and going as rapidly as you can. So when we’re looking at a, plant starting to grow, the seed pops open and the roots start moving down into the ground, most of the nutrients present in that seed are actually going to be going to the purpose of making exit dates from those roots that are starting to grow into the ground.

[00:12:37] , you have to have enough energy and nutrients for that seedling to put its leaves above ground and start photosynthesizing. That’s really critical to increase that. Flow into the exudates coming out of the plant. The exudates are messengers. I think of it as the pizza delivery system in the soil that you call up the pizza delivery guy when you want to get some food.

[00:13:04] And so the plant is putting out this message in the form of an exudate, which is mostly simple sugars, proteins, and carbohydrates, but very specific to the new trends that the plant requires, whatever the plant is lacking. It’s going to be sending out the message to the bacteria and the fungi in the soil.

[00:13:28] Okay. How much of what kind of nutrient the plant requires. And so here’s his bacterium over here receiving the message, make this kind of enzyme so that you will pull this kind of new Tran out of the silica bi-layer of the sand, the SU the clays rocks, pebbles, et cetera. And so that bacterium is taken up those nutrients.

[00:13:53] Delivered, to the bacterium from the enzymes, working on the substrates and soil, the fungi of course, over here, getting a different set of instructions from the plant. So it’s going after a different nutrient and it sends out high fee and at the ends of the hyphae, releasing the enzymes that are needed to pull those new trans out of the organic matter or the silica by layers in the sand, silt and clay.

[00:14:23] So the fungus is accumulating nutrients for the plant is like the plants pantry. The bacteria are pulling in nutrients, storing them in their biomass. It’s the pantry for the, for your route. And when there’s a high enough concentration, then the predators of those bacteria and fungi go a whole look at those great things to eat over there.

[00:14:46] Let us go over chow down. the new train concentration in bacteria or fungi is much, much higher than what we see in the bodies of the predators of the bacteria and fungi. So they don’t need near what’s stored in the bacteria and fungi. So all that extra, all the excess nutrient is going to be released into the soil in a plant available form back when that those nutrients were in the sand.

[00:15:17] So clays, rocks, pebbles, and organic matter, your plant couldn’t access them, not capable of taking up that form of that nutrient, not until the predator organisms release those nutrients into the soil. Are those new trans actually something that the plant can take up into its root system.

[00:15:39] Michael: So to make sure I understand that correctly, the bacteria and the fun guy can’t deliver those nutrients directly to the plant. You require this extra layer in this.

[00:15:50] Dr. Elaine: Yup. Yup. And it’s it’s hard for people sometimes to envision what’s actually going on,

[00:15:57] and

[00:15:57] it’s really important for plants to be getting all the nutrients they need in the proper balances. When you put out an inorganic fertilizer, you’re only putting out one type of nutrient. And so your plant is going to be unbalanced. It’s going to have way too much nitrogen, but not enough cadmium or zinc or boron or any of those other nutrients.

[00:16:22] So this, the plant still has to carry on this interaction with the or bacteria and the fungi and the , protozoa and nematodes. Still has to be carrying that on. The inorganic fertilizers that we use are all salts there. They’ve got to have the positive and negative portions binding with something.

[00:16:43] And when that inorganic fertilizer gets into the soil, the concentration of the salt in that, which is the structure of the fertilizer is going to kill a lot of different species of bacteria and fungi and protozoa and nematodes and micro arthropods and earthworms. And now lots of things die because of that.

[00:17:06] And so here we are, again, preventing this normal nutrient cycling process from being able to happen. The more inorganic fertilizers you put in The more you kill this.

[00:17:17] biology in the soil and you become totally dependent on very expensive inputs into your system. Whereas if you just make compost from your own organic ways to get rid of another problem, by making that compost, then you can put that compost out and you can put that set that highly diverse set of microorganisms that you need in your soil.

[00:17:42] You can be replacing them anytime you need to be replacing them. Hopefully, you understand pretty quickly that you don’t want to be killing these organisms off anymore. So you don’t have to keep putting more and more compost out, start protecting your beds, start protecting your fields so that you don’t have to put these organisms out.

[00:18:02] There are a lot of clients of ours that have brought the biology in their soil up to what the plant requires. And they’re not putting compost back out on the property anymore. It’s not necessary. All the organisms are in place. How do you know that the organisms are all out there and in place you’ve got a microscope.

[00:18:25] And so you’re going to be using your microscope to look at what’s actually in your soil. And if the balances are right for the plant that you want to grow, you don’t have to do anything. Now, if the things aren’t balanced more or less properly, then you might want to go out and put on a a gentle spray of a compost extract.

[00:18:46] It’s very easy to apply. Doesn’t take that much compost. Or a compost tea you might need to put out in the first year or two, if you have a lot of above ground disease causing organisms, attacking your plants putting out , a high concentration of these organisms will protect the leaf surfaces top and bottom so that no disease causing organism can even make it anywhere close to the tissue of your plants. So we get rid of the foliar diseases, the full year, insect pests, they don’t touch your plants. They fly on by. They don’t recognize that your plants are plants because they don’t have the smell of the gases that normally come off. The vegetation are no longer being released. They’re being used by these microorganisms to make more microorganisms, protecting your leaves even better.

[00:19:40] Michael: So there’s a handful of things I want to follow up on and what you just said. . Maybe I’ll start with the last topic work my way backwards. So applying these microorganisms to your plants on the leaves, can you tell me a little bit more about what that looks like?

[00:19:55] mentioned compost tea. Is this sort of like a liquified form of compost or how does one create.

[00:20:04] Dr. Elaine: So you make your compost, you take a sample, make sure that it’s got the right balance for your plant. And now all you’re going to do is like in a container, depending on how much you need. If you just have a couple of, plants in a window sale, or if you have a small garden with one or two rows, you don’t need much, you take a five gallon bucket and you put the compost into something where the water’s going to flow through the fabric.

[00:20:32] So your compost is inside all the big chunks stay in the bay where all of that small bacteria, the fungi, the protozoa, the nematodes will be extracted, and you’re just gentle and careful that you’re extracting all of the organisms off the surface of that compost.

[00:20:52] Take about 80 PSI to pull most of those organisms off. So you want to, push your hands together and the water rushing out. We’ll pull those organisms off the surfaces and into the water. So you do that now for maybe three minutes. , no need to go more than that. Some people like to leave the bag hanging in the water.

[00:21:16] I usually like to take the bag out because we’re going to then add a little bit of food to get those organisms active and growing in the ambient conditions. We want to have those organisms making glues that will instantaneously have them adhered to the surface of the leaf. And then think about the fact that we’ve got to get the drops on the top of the leaf, but we also have to get those organisms to stick to the bottom of the leaf.

[00:21:49] So you have to have immediate sticking the second that drop of water that you spray on that leaf touches the surface of the plant. We want all those bacteria and fungi and protozoa nematodes to stick to that surface and start forming a layer where any of the disease causing spores flying through the air lands on your. There is a huge gap between where the spore arrived and where the leaf actually is. So we’re going to allow the organisms that you’ve extracted from your compost. I, when people usually ask me at this point, what do you do with the leftover compost in the bag? You dump it on your compost pile.

[00:22:33] It adds a little bit of extra moisture, but that’s about it. All those organisms that you ripped off, they’re going to regrow on your material. out It’s just more food coming back to the compost pile.

[00:22:45] So during the next 24 hours, You want to be air rating what’s in that five gallon bucket so that you keep it aerobic. You don’t want anything to go anaerobic because the good guys grow in aerobic conditions.

[00:23:02] The bad guys grow in anaerobic conditions. There’s a few minor exceptions to that rule, So you let that incubator that bubble around for 24 hours and then you turn off the air. your compost tea into your spray or unit. If you’ve gotten too much chunky stuff coming out through the bag that you were extracted, you let a lot of that. Material sink to the bottom and you take off just the liquid part

[00:23:36] cause you don’t want to plug your sprayer. And then you spray just as you would for anything else. If you have used your sprayer for toxic chemicals, those toxic chemicals have gotten into the surfaces and you would have to wash the surfaces quite a bit. Five or maybe even 10 sprays for a minute or two to try to get all of the in the inorganic fertilizer or pesticides, toxic chemicals to get that all washed off those inside surfaces. So a little bit of hydrogen peroxide or bleach go on through the first couple of washes and then six. Eight flushes after that are necessary to get all of that pesticide off the inside layers. So a lot of people will buy a sprayer just for their compost tea, compost extracts.

[00:24:30] So now with the compost tea, you go and spray your trees, shrubs above ground parts of your tomato plants, whatever you’ve got, just making sure that you’re trying to spray the top leaves of the leaves, and then you’re directing that spray from below.

[00:24:46] Go ahead and, spray your flowers, spray, the fruit. You want to protect all of those surfaces from the diseases and all of the organisms that are in your , compost teas are organisms. That will be beneficial to you. As long as you maintain aerobic conditions and high diversity.

[00:25:04] Michael: It’s fascinating to me that the same organisms that are flourishing in the compost and in the soil. Ultimate. Can be applied to the surface. It’s such a different environment, direct sun and everything else that’s going on. It, but it’s the same organisms apparently.

[00:25:18] Dr. Elaine: There’s a little bit of selection. The things that are really soil dwellers and they don’t like sunlight. And, they, there are no foods for them sometimes coming out of the leaves. But all of the leaves, the twigs, the bark, the flowers, the fruit, all of those release, their own exit dates.

[00:25:38] A great deal of that is meant to grow. These organisms coming from the soil, because where did the organisms on the above ground part of your plant come from? Didn’t come from the seed. If comes from all these cute little critters crawling around in the ground, getting their legs and their body fully covered with all these really good organisms.

[00:26:00] And they walk up your plant and as they’re walking, they’re leaving behind a inocula that the plant then feeds to get that protective layer all over them. So , it’s all starting in the soil.

[00:26:14] So we’re speeding the process up by making the compost by applying the compost as a spray, you’re getting that layer put out there. It’s also a good way to determine whether your neighbors have been spraying pesticides because if they have sprayed pesticides and you’re happened to be, unfortunately, downwind I have to do is take some of your leaf material off and look at those leaves and determine whether you’ve got the organisms present on those leaf surfaces or whether they’ve all been killed by the neighbors sprays.

[00:26:52] So what do you. You wanted then make up another batch of compost tea and spray your trees again, or shrubs or veggies or whatever you think may have been harmed by those toxic chemicals.

[00:27:05] Michael: At the leaves is that again, under a microscope?

[00:27:09] Dr. Elaine: Yep. Using a microscope and we don’t need real high power. And a lot of people have been told you have to have a thousand magnification in order to be able to see. No, not true. And you can prove it to yourself you start out with a 4x objective and you see all these little dotty things zooming around.

[00:27:28] Some of them are not modal, so they stay in place. So you go up to your 10 X objective, take a look, and everything’s just larger. Go to your 40 X objective. Everything’s larger. And you’re going to be saying those look exactly like bacteria. They’re little round guys or they’re short, little rods, maybe longer rods, but you’re looking at all the bacteria.

[00:27:51] So, . Just buy the four X, 10 X and 40 X objectives, 10 X I pieces.

[00:27:58] And you’re good to go. You’ll be able to see all the organisms in the soil that you want.

[00:28:02] Michael: So we could talk a little bit more about using the microscope perhaps for a moment since we’re already part way down that path. And I’ve heard you speak before, and I know that there’s a method by which you can assess the health of your soil.

[00:28:16] If somebody wants to see with a microscope how their soil is doing, what would they do?

[00:28:21] Dr. Elaine: Yep. Well, you take sound like a spatula or you take spoons. Spoon works just as well and is a tad less expensive. So you can take a spoon and you dig down to the depth. You want to look at what’s going on. So maybe you want to look at your zero to five centimeters or three inch level and you just take a couple spoonfuls out of that. put that in the plastic bag

[00:28:48] Go to another place in your in the same plant, same treatment, eh, take another couple spoonfuls and put that in the plastic bag. Maybe go to a third place. So you’re getting some idea of the variability. Within your system. You’re making it more uniform by taking all these little bits from here and there, you then take your bag back inside.

[00:29:13] Don’t start breaking up the clods. Don’t start distorting the structure right away. You want to, you may be taking in several samples, so you don’t start breaking them up until just before. You’re going to start preparing that sample for the microscope. So you bring your baggy and side. Now you mix it up.

[00:29:35] So you make it as uniform as possible. Now you’re going to measure out one gram or one milliliter volume. they both should come out about the same. So measure out , your soil sample one gram in a test tube, and now you add four mils of water. Please make sure that it is water, that doesn’t have chlorine or chloramines in it.

[00:30:01] So that means if you’re taking water from your kitchen faucet or your bathroom faucet, you’re going to have to neutralize the toxic chemicals that are in that water. You’re going to have a container where you like to fill up a gallon of that water and put one drop, maybe two of humic acid, because that will complex all of the chlorine and the Chlor.

[00:30:26] I mean, in that one gallon. You might notice that you get just the slightest tinge of brown color. So you might be able to detect that you have indeed put that humic acid into that water. And now it’s safer for you to use it, to dilute your soil sample. So we usually start at a one to five dilution, one gram or mil of your soil sample, and four mils of the water.

[00:30:57] And now you want to shake that because . Now we want to actually destroy all the structure that’s inside. We want to break up those micro aggregates and the macro aggregates and the way you do that, and we’ve done a lot of testing over the years is if you think of your arm as going out straight parallel to the ground, we want to go from here to a 90 degree angle. And back again in one second. So I find it’s very useful to have my watch. Give me the second. So they’re noting the, by the second, so you go 1, 2, 3, 4, so each second I’m going from here to here . And you do?

[00:31:44] that 30 times.

[00:31:46] Michael: I’m also sitting here thinking that like a physical therapist would probably be able to say, pronate this muscle and rotate this other muscle a little bit, that, that doesn’t help most people either.

[00:31:54] Dr. Elaine: No, not at all, because I can get so confused and, you end up being a pretzel and going, and I’m not understanding this right.

[00:32:03] Michael: Yeah. And it’s not really hard. Like I don’t want to scare anyone away. It’s a very simple motion. It just difficult to describe.

[00:32:09] Dr. Elaine: Yup. It’s fairly simple. So shouldn’t have any problems with it. So now you’ve shaked. Your sample, you’ve gotten all of those micro aggregates, broken, open, any thing that’s not water stable and a little bit of water into the soil and shaking will pretty much break everything up.

[00:32:31] Now you want to wait probably about 10 seconds to let the bigger chunkier stuff fall to the tip of your test tube. And if anybody needs information on where to buy these test tubes and with caps, so you can shake just get hold of us at info at soil food, web.com. And we’ll give you a couple of choices of places to go with exactly the right kinds of test tubes and caps so that you don’t have to.

[00:33:04] Be searching all over your town now back to the, back to our sample,

[00:33:09] okay. So now we’re going to take a pipette and there’s another thing that you want to buy is a pipette and same sort of deal. You can get a thousand of those for 12 or $15, and now you get your batch of 10 pipettes. So the first one you want to put your pipette just below the top layer of water, and then pull that sample into the pipette, push it back out.

[00:33:34] We want to get the, all of the sides of the pipette, where you inoculate all of the sides. So you’re not losing any organisms to the fact that they’re now adhered to the inside of your pipette. The second one, pull it up, push it. Pull it up. There you go. There’s your sample. And you’re going to put

[00:33:54] just one drop on that microscope slide, but you want to push that drop out very slowly And let it drop onto your microscope. Slide without touching the pipette tip to the slide. So it’s gotta be gravity is what it’s going to determine when, that drop falls. And so a drop that will fall through the air dis joint itself from that pipette tip is going to be the same size no matter.

[00:34:31] What size pipette you’re using. If you do that correctly. So now we’ve got our microscope slide with a drop on the surface. We’re going to take a cover slip and push the cover, slip back and forth about the width of the cover slip, and then drop the cover slip on onto the drop. You should have , just enough water to cover the the. No bubbles in it, no drops outside or inside. So now you’re ready to put that microscope slide on the microscope and start, turn the lamp on. Make sure you focus in with the four X lens. Go up to your 10 check your focus, go up to your 40 X lens and you should start seeing all the cute little critters.

[00:35:20] We do want to adjust the condenser. There’s, there’ll be a knob on the left-hand side of your microscope underneath the stage. And you’ll want to adjust that so that you’re maximizing the amount of light we can get really particular about getting the light just right.

[00:35:39] And that’s probably an important thing. It’s hard to, for me to demonstrate this to you or talk you through it. So that’s one part where you would have to go to a class or something and get a little bit of training. We do have equipment lists on the website so that you can see all the equipment that you need to be.

[00:36:02] It’s a microscope with the right lenses. You’ve got to get a microscope with a condenser that’s focusing will, and it has a Iris diaphragm.

[00:36:12] Michael: And when we’re looking now, you have it all focused. You have the. Correct. What are we looking for? I assume that just seeing things may not be indicative of healthy soil. There’s probably some specific indicators.

[00:36:23] Dr. Elaine: Yep. And we want to be looking for the bacteria and the fungi. The good guys are fairly innocuous. They’re taxi shaped round, or a little bit longer than they are wide. The bacteria that are really scary are the ones that spin like a corkscrew. And you see that wave of motion as the corkscrew is zooming through your sample and about, oh, gosh, probably about 90% of the spur.

[00:36:53] Relow that’s their name is a probably most of them are disease causes. And so if you see spirillum, you want to wash your hands. You want to make sure that you get rid of the sample and, wherever your soil is or whatever that sample was that you were testing. You’re going to want to go out with a really good compost tea and just drench that soil with a good compost tea to kill the disease causing organisms.

[00:37:18] Another one for bacteria are spirochetes, and they move like snakes. If you will stay in a wave motion. The, and the body usually has several of those S curves on them. So very noticeable, hard to mistake when you see your first one, you’ll go. Yep. That’s what that is. You want to be real careful because there’s some really nasty diseases with those sets of microorganisms.

[00:37:44] Probably only 50% of the spirochetes are actual disease causers, but who’s wants to take a chance. . And with both of those genera they are indicators.

[00:37:54] that your soil, your compost, whatever you’re measuring has gone anaerobic. So now you’ve got other problems that besides just the disease causing organisms, you’ve got some really nasty chemicals that have been made and drop the pH down to probably somewhere around a 5.4, five or four, somewhere in that range.

[00:38:17] And putting that on your plants is not going to be beneficial and could actually kill.

[00:38:22] Michael: If you detect that in your compost, can you correct it or are you just need to get rid of it at that?

[00:38:27] Dr. Elaine: You can correct it. It’s going to take you a little bit of time and certainly, if you train with us, we go through all of the ways to prevent those anaerobic conditions from ever happening.

[00:38:39] Michael: So there’s indications along the way that kind of help you stay on track before you have to pull out the microscope and get to that level

[00:38:46] Dr. Elaine: Absolutely. One of the biggest, one of the best and the easiest to figure out is when you walk up to your compost pile for seeing in a day and you go, oh, okay. Who peed in the compost? Nope. Your compost pile is going anaerobic. You, the smell of ammonia, the smell of vomit, the smell of sour, milk.

[00:39:06] And then of course the rotten egg smell, any of those smells are indicate to you that you better turn this pile and turn it pretty soon, or maybe punch some cores down to the bottom.

[00:39:19] So a PVC pipe, as tall as your compost pile is, and you’re going to take that PVC pipe and pound a chimney into the compost. You pull the the PVC pipe out, leaving a chimney where oxygen is going to get all the way down through your compost pile. And of course, hot air rises.

[00:39:40] Cold air comes in. And so you’re helping to drop the temperature on that pile as well. Depending on how hot you’re getting determines the number of places you have to put. chimneys in. So we go through all of the criteria for turning your pile with you. What’s good. What’s bad. What’s what is like, get that BBZ.

[00:40:04] But I bought here now I once a nine o’clock at night, I walked out to my compost pile, check the temperature, and it was at 175 degrees. And that’s like, you’re four degrees shy of your pile becoming spontaneous, combined. It’s going to burst into flames. And of course this was in California in September when all these forest fires were going on, all these, and it’s like, great.

[00:40:34] I don’t want to contribute to this problem. I really don’t want to burn the house down, please. So I just took that PVC pipe and riddled it with holes all the way around, drop the temperature about three, four degrees. And well that was nine o’clock at night and I wanted to go back in and go to bed.

[00:40:55] I set the alarm every hour, so I could go out and check the temperature on that pile. I would, it, wasn’t going to turn it in the day. And we had a bear and her Cub in the vicinity. So I didn’t want to stay out there and nursing my pile. So come Dawn I’m out there. And I turned that pile as soon as I could, but there were a few moments of don’t ever put that, that much high nitrogen into a pile ever again.

[00:41:23] Michael: I had no idea that composting could turn into such a dramatic event, like, risk of spontaneous combustion with a bear, a mother bear nearby.

[00:41:31] Dr. Elaine: Yup. Yup. There was one time we put some fish hydrolysate into one of the compost piles to try to make it go a little faster. And during the night, mama and baby bear came over and tore the pile apart. We found pieces of the wire cage, this, that the thermometers just spread all over the place because they could smell that fish. It smelled like a fish was in there. So if you have a mama bear and her baby, anywhere around, don’t put fish into your compost pile,

[00:42:06] Michael: yeah. Good advice.

[00:42:07] Dr. Elaine: we learn. The things we’re looking at for fungi is we want them uniform diameter all the way along the body.

[00:42:15] If you get a branch and it’s a different size, fine. Not to worry. We want to know that it’s a dark brown color, light tan it’s colored in some way. That’s pretty much a signal of a good fungus. If it’s clear, if it’s colorless a little bit more questionable, they should have septa inside of them cross walls, and you can see the little cross walls. If you don’t have cross walls, especially if it’s clear colorless, I would worry a fair amount that you don’t really have the beneficial fungi that you want. Another factor works in here. If you see five strands of really good fungi and one short strand of bad guy, don’t worry.

[00:43:01] The good guys are going to win. It’s just when you have the only thing you’ve got are clear white, very narrow diameter, no septa. You want to do something to get the good guys back into your pile. So under those conditions, you want to get a handful from another pile that you’ve got really good fungi in and inoculated into the pile where you don’t have any good guys. And it is that easy to bring them.

[00:43:27] Michael: So thing. About here is yeah. People in general and I’m a person too are lazy. And and I’m wondering, are there any proxies or indicators for soil health that don’t require this level of commitment and investigation

[00:43:42] Dr. Elaine: it’s your nose so the smells, if you’re digging into the pile and you’re starting to get bad odors out. You’ve got to get it turned if you’re putting your hand into the pile and if you pull it up and you’ve got water streaming from your hand, it’s going to be going anaerobic sometime very soon.

[00:44:01] So don’t let the pile get that wet. You only, if you put your hand in, pick up a handful of that compost, you want to squeeze it and you want just one or two drops of water coming out. That’s perfect. You’re not likely to go anaerobic if you’ve got the water, right. You can pick up some of the pile, shake it and you want to see lots of airways and passageways, otherwise chimneys get the chimneys going for you.

[00:44:29] And that’s always a good way to assure aerobic conditions. So you don’t have to suffer through what do bad guy fungi look like.

[00:44:36] Michael: And then for the soil itself, , so composting is one thing. And I, for example, a friend of mine was telling me about how they moved into a new house, like 25 years ago. And they weren’t quite sure what they were getting and they wanted to have more native plants and make a better habitat.

[00:44:51] And they noticed just a huge number of slugs on the property and slugs, as try, divorce are probably a little bit closer. To soil then certain other organisms. And they’re also observable, was that an indicator of anything? Are there other sorts of visual indicators that might be helpful for a homeowner?

[00:45:10] Just trying to initially assess the state of their property.

[00:45:13] Dr. Elaine: Yep. If you are seeing a lot of snails either slugs or snails, the slugs and snails have come into that area because the soil is compacted. And if you can’t get oxygen into your soil, the anaerobic organisms start making alcohol. And the slugs and the snails are attracted by that.

[00:45:34] And, they’ll have a perfectly wonderful time taken down the alcohol and then turning around and chewing on your plants. A little green, a little alcohol, a little more green, a little more alcohol. So they are, that is really not good news to have the flood of of the slugs and snails coming in.

[00:45:56] How do you fix it? You’re gonna want to go out with a broad fork and punch that into the ground and walk it back and forth. Go on, do it again. Just try to get a little fluff in the soil and then as soon as possible, get out there with a compost. You don’t have the compost extract.

[00:46:12] You’re just going to extract the biology from the compost. And then you use that. You don’t need to put food into it and grow the organisms because we don’t have to be concerned about the organism sticking to the surface of the soil. They’re going to manage just fine to do that all by themselves. So as soon as you’ve got an area fluffed up with the broad fork you put in that compost extract and it pretty rapidly you could, you’re going to be able to go deeper and deeper one good test for that kind of thing is where is the compaction is if you take a metal rod and push it into the soil, and then you find out how far down is that anaerobic compaction layer you can buy a penetrometer, which is the metal rod. And on top of that top of the metal rod, there is a where you can measure how many pounds per square inch are you pushing in order to push that metal rod through the soil? Most plants cannot push their root systems through a soil that’s compacted any greater than 150 PSI.

[00:47:24] You have plants that have the bottom root will go through the, it can punch through and get deeper. So any of the things that like the bulbs, we can do that. So if you’ve got that special strength, they may be able to make it down to 300 PSI, but I’ve never encountered a plant that can get through soil that is compacted at more than 300 PSI.

[00:47:49] So you’ve got a. Get the biology back into that soil. So they will build that structure for you. And I’ve seen organisms break up pressure areas that were up around 1200 PSI in four weeks. They can do it rapidly, but you gotta make sure that you’ve got the organisms. You’ve got the foods for them in that soil. You’ve got the mineral compounds that they need to break up to, to get structure built that rapidly.

[00:48:21] Michael: So the first step of taking the the fork and loosening the soil that’s to speed the process up and make it easier. Then when you apply your compost or the tea as.

[00:48:32] Dr. Elaine: Yeah, because . When the slugs are coming out, you don’t know whether the alcohol is from way deep in the soil coming up as.

[00:48:40] it’s evaporating or whether the compaction is right there at the surface. You don’t know. And so the broad fork to get things started, and then it’s a lot easier to start pushing that metal rod through the soil and trying to figure out where is the compaction?

[00:48:57] Michael: And if a property has been treated with chemicals and I expect there’s going to be a wide range of of timelines here, let’s maybe just start with fertilizers with inorganic fertilizers. Is there any special steps that would need to be taken to flush that out of your land or you just need to wait?

[00:49:15] What would you do in that

[00:49:16] Dr. Elaine: Yeah. It’s if you knew when the fertilizer was applied you could have some idea of whether it’s worth your effort to go get some really good compost right now, and try to tie up all of those nutrients and keep them in your soil. It’s just that you want to convert it from. The salt form being organic salt form of fertilizer into your organic matter really quickly.

[00:49:41] Just getting a compost extract out into that soil is going to suck up those nutrients rather rapidly. So you keep them. It’s a, it’s a waste of money that they just in the water going off, leaving your property are, is taking all those soluble nutrients with them and causing problems in everybody’s lakes and rivers and streams and the groundwater.

[00:50:05] That’s all negatively impacted by that inorganic fertilizer being lost. And it will be lost because fertilizer companies recognize over the years that they’ve had to increase the amount of inorganic fertilizer going on because there’s nothing left in that soil to hold it. It is the biology that holds those nutrients.


[00:50:31] Michael: That’s really interesting to think about in that. You can start on this slippery slope by applying these fertilizers, that then start destroying the biology of the soil, which then causes you to apply more. And then in the case that I was asking about where we’re, now you’re trying to restore an environment.

[00:50:47] It’s not that you want to get rid of what was previously applied. You want to try to hold onto it and then restore the biology at the same time. And I guess I’m just repeating this because it will help me remember it that, that was not how I thought that story was going to go.

[00:51:01] Dr. Elaine: Yeah. You thought you were going to get a lesson on how to leach all these horrible things out of your soil? Well, it’s different if they applied something that has a lot of heavy metal in it, that’s a different story because we don’t want the heavy metals in the soil. So if you know that something that somebody else applied had a heavy metal.

[00:51:24] Now we definitely want to get the mycorrhizal fungi back into that soil, get them growing on the surfaces of the plants because the mycorrhizal fungi will sequester the heavy metal just outside of the root system of your plant. There’s been conjecture about why that works that way. And the best anyone can figure is that the plant can detect when that heavy metal is approaching, coming through the mycorrhizal fungal hyphae.

[00:51:56] And it will basically say to the microrisal fungus, you aren’t bringing that stuff in here and it’s just stays in the fungal hyphae outside that root system. So it’s tied up, it’s going to, as the mycorrhizal fungi decompose, those heavy metals are going to be put into the structure of the organic matter in the. And as long as you’re always increasing organic matter, the part of that organic matter that has the heavy metal in it will never be decomposed. It’s not going to harm your plant because it’s in the wrong form for your plant to take it up. Nobody else wants to decompose it because it’s like what a detach, tach.

[00:52:40] Yeah, heavy metal. when you have somebody who’s stupid and they dumped the diesel oil or they clean their engine out and all the gasoline went out on the property.

[00:52:52] You might over the years, see some problems generated because of that. And when you start picking that up, then it’s very easy to put in a innocula of microorganisms that are specifically meant to decompose that stuff. The biggest problem, usually then. You’re not quite sure what it is that’s causing that it’s like we’ve had ranches and sheep country where you just can’t grow anything in this field.

[00:53:21] There’s, it’s no matter what you do, you can’t get anything to grow. And then you discover by talking to all the old guys in the community, you discover that this is the old sheep shearing pen. And this is where they had to put the animals into drenches of copper and a couple other real nasty things to, in order to get the fleas out, the ticks out the, you name it, and you don’t want them in your wool anyways.

[00:53:49] So you arsenic. That’s another one that they used quite often there. And so now you’ve got this whole section of this pasture, and now you understand why. , now that we know that it’s arsenic, we can get the right microrisal fungi out there to take up that our snack and the, again, it’s in outside the root system of your plant, so that you remove the plants.

[00:54:15] You’ve take the whole root system soil in all, and put it in into a container where you can go and separate out the arsenic from everything else.

[00:54:26] Michael: Before we started recording, I was telling you a bit about my audience and how there are a lot of people that probably self identify as naturalists and are a community science oriented using naturalists and fact and other things. And I’m wondering the topic of soil.

[00:54:41] It’s something that I haven’t seen a lot of interest in from that community. Is there, do you have a call to action for those folks? Like what would you like them to start reporting and documenting out in the field

[00:54:53] Dr. Elaine: what would be useful is when they’re, expecting to see some plant in a community there, the expectation is that whole community should be there, but there are some glaring absences. And is that because of. We don’t have the right mycorrhizal fungi in the soil to allow those rare and endangered species or close to rare and endangered species.

[00:55:22] Can we go out and find the mycorrhizal fungi extract, some of those spores from the mushrooms that are produced by those mycorrhizal fungi or from the roots, small amounts of the roots could be harvested. And then you apply that to a land where this plant should be, maybe get a few seeds going, put a couple of starts, and we could start to repair the lack of diversity that we have in some of our natural areas.

[00:55:52] I want to be careful about it’s indigenous. We’re not going to be going outside. The area to collect the microrisal fungal fungi, the spores.

[00:56:02] There’s a lot of the higher predators that they eat, the organisms that eat the organisms that eat the protozoa that eat the bacteria and you’ve got, and we’re missing one of those larger predators somewhere along the way that’s supposed to be present that would help make this natural areas. More typical of what it should be. Get more production growing diversity is really important, helping any community fight diseases or pests or problems. So yeah, there’s, they need to under their, understand their soil. It’s not like the above ground goes on without stuff from below. Got to understand the soil. If you want to have a healthy above ground system,

[00:56:52] Michael: So yeah, that sounds. Good advice for land managers as well. And then let’s just talk about soil, food, web your organization,

[00:56:59] I know you offer classes that go really in depth into some of the topics that you touched on here today. Tell me a little bit about that and where people can go to.

[00:57:08] Dr. Elaine: Great. Well, we have two companies. One is the soul food web school where we offer the foundation courses where we get pretty deep into the science. We teach people how to.

[00:57:19] use a microscope at a fairly elementary level. And then the course after that is we go way deep into becoming a lab technician, running a lab where people send samples in and then to become a consultant is the third stage.

[00:57:38] We think of it is this is your PhD and how to help people. Convert their dirt back into soil. So these consultants are trained in a number of environments. So they know how to help people work with people. How do you make compost? How do you make teas and extracts? They can help you do that where essentially they’re getting people started on the understanding of what they need to have.

[00:58:07] So they can become a certified. So we have a number of advanced courses. There’s always new stuff happening. There’s new ways of measuring carbon sequestered in your soil. And we’re considering an advanced class on doing that. And how, how could we make this easier with microbes epi fluorescent.

[00:58:28] Microscopies some of that work where you can identify a lot of the pathogens by applying specific stains that are attached to something that reacts. With salmonella or something that reacts with pasteurella any one of those disease causing organisms. And that’s the only part of the sample that will start fluorescing.

[00:58:53] And you can see it in the microscope and know that it’s yep. This is real. This is attached to a bunch of the bacteria. So.

[00:59:01] lots of different advanced classes going on that we’re trying to. Increasing the number of advanced classes for people to come back to the school. We are planning on having annual meetings where people would be presenting.

[00:59:17] We do have the soil summit is coming up here pretty quick. It is all done virtually. So there’s no travel to a convention area. We need to add that. I think so. another four years, five years, we’ll be getting seriously into that. I’ve had a company called soil food web incorporated since 1996.

[00:59:40] And I’ve gone through several permutations with them. And so the soil food web school is a Of soil food, web incorporated. And the last couple years I’ve been considering what am I going to do with soul food web incorporated. And we’ve decided that’s going to be the hands on school that people take the introductory about the foundation courses.

[01:00:06] And then once they’re finished with those, now they can come and do hands on making compost extracts teas, doing conversions of dirt to soil. Because a lot of people don’t have a place. They can make an do these things. If you live in an apartment, where can you find space problem areas that need the dirt converted back into soil.

[01:00:32] So we’re working with an 800 acre farm right now that needs to be complete all 800 acres need to be converted. So that will be happening. We will be working with grass seed growers. We’ll be working with nut growers. We will be working with a number of large consortiums of people that everybody wants to be able to convert their dirt back into soil because it reduces costs by so much money.

[01:00:59] And then they can also get carbon credits for storing more carbon in the soil. We’re working with some really large companies in Malaysia, Philippines, India, South Africa Ecuador, Brazil where people want to do this conversion. So if you want to wander around the world for the next 10 years and be paid for doing that you might be interested in coming and learning to work with us on these projects.

[01:01:28] There they are definitely large scale and we’re going to need literally thousands of people to do all the acreage that we’re looking at on.

[01:01:37] Michael: It sounds extremely interesting. And do you have any other resources that you would recommend for people? If they’re interested to learn more about soil health or the soil microbiome, or even composting

[01:01:50] Dr. Elaine: there’s all kinds of books starting to come out on soil, food web. There’s a book by Jeff Lowenfels called teaming with microbes. And that’s a really good starting manual for you because he goes through. It’s just, it was published back in the gosh, probably the late 19 hundreds, 19, 19 hundreds now, 1990s.

[01:02:15] And things have progressed since then. But the basic knowledge in that book is

[01:02:22] It still applies very well to today.

[01:02:24] Your pick up. Most of the references in the foundation course. Because everything that we talk about in the foundation courses have links back to scientific literature, back to USDA or NRCS literature that would get you right into the middle of everything. you know, If you’re interested in graduate school, you want to be looking at papers, the scientific papers, and who’s doing what, finding a major professor, that’s doing a project that you want to do, or they’re doing that kind of research.

[01:02:59] Michael: Okay, thank you for that. And I know there’s so much more we could have talked about. You touched on the fact that healthy soil is useful for carbon sequestration. We didn’t really even get into that. There’s so many more branches we could have gone down.

[01:03:11] Dr. Elaine: didn’t talk about the fact that you don’t have. you’re controlling the biology and your soil weeds are a thing of the past protecting your soil surface. How do you do that? You put in ground cover. Well, what kind of ground cover? , so there’s lots of topics we haven’t touched on yet.

[01:03:28] Yes.

[01:03:29] And that reminds me of another really good reference for people to go looking for. The USDA back in 2000 or maybe it’s 2001 they publish the soil biology primer. And out of the, I think it’s like eight chapters in that book I wrote all except two of them. So Andy molding, he wrote the chapter on micro arthropods and Clive Edwards wrote the chapter on earthworms,

[01:03:59] so it’s a good place. And that has the, picture of the soul food web in it I think we only had five overarching principles at that time were up to seven, so that’s increased,

[01:04:10] Michael: Is there anything else that you feel like is a burning topic , that we should attempt to cover

[01:04:16] Dr. Elaine: There’s just so many.

[01:04:17] burning topics. It’s we’ve got to stop destroying that, which supports us. And it’s almost criminal to me that there are big chemical companies out there lying through their teeth that all of their toxic chemicals don’t harm anything.

[01:04:32] Well, they use different laboratory techniques those techniques never will be able to isolate most of the microorganisms in the soil. It’s like, anytime you use a plate count, you’re missing 99.9 9 9 9, 9% of the organisms in that soil. And so they use play count methods to say, now we have a sample of the soil without the toxic chemical called a sample with the toxic chemical with 10 times higher concentration.

[01:05:06] And we look at them and there’s no difference in the number of organisms that come up on any of those plates, because you can’t grow those things that are harmed by those toxic chemicals. And yet, the USDA EPA lets them get away with that. boggling. So we’ve got to get ourselves out from under the corporate thumb , ah, we will get there sooner or later.

[01:05:33] So we need to, we need this study. We need to understand, we need everybody who possibly can to be putting this biology back into their soil.

[01:05:42] So they’re going to get all of the benefits of the nutrition of no diseases, no pests, no toxic chemicals in the food that they’re consuming or in their water. We got to do all of those things.

[01:05:55] Michael: Dr. Elaine, it’s been really fascinating and I appreciate all of the information you’ve imparted here today. Thank you so much.

[01:06:04] Dr. Elaine: Well, thank you for inviting me. It’s a good opportunity to reach more people. And that’s what we have to do is get everybody having a good biology in their soil. So whatever they’re growing has all the benefits from the organisms in the soil.

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