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October 06, 2016

Plants & Crops ›   Turf ›  

Fall's Dilemma: Soil Nutrient Depletion

Nutrient Depletion

The summer days have been long and hot, but incredibly worth the labor. Your garden has provided you with an ample bounty of tomatoes, squash, cucumbers and a plethora of other summer gardening delights. As we turn into fall, and the summer plants begin to wind down, we turn our attention to the next phase - the "turn in" or winter preparation.

It is during this stage of garden life that we remove all of the old vines, plant matter, and debris. Soon leaves start to pile up, and our gardens become cluttered. During this period, the average gardener focuses on tidiness but often makes one huge mistake - failure to feed the soil! The result is nutrient depletion.

The excellent crops that provided summer's bounty also take a heavy toll on the chemistry and structure of the garden soil, as the plants and crops grow they devour valuable nutrients and take the soil's energy and creating a bad situation with soil depletion. At the end of the summer growing season, we are left with tired, depleted soils. And of course, weak soils produce poor yields.

To the novice the answer to the problem might be simple- heap generous amounts of synthetic fertilizers and voila - problem solved. This poor and uneducated notion could not be further from the truth. In many cases adding such an unstable and temporary fix results in weaker soils that are higher in salinity and full of excessive and imbalanced nutrients. These imbalances cause an onslaught of harmful nematodes and other undesirable issues. The result is a perfect storm of pestilence and disease for next year's crops.

We have been blindly trained to focus replenishment efforts solely on the macronutrients of Nitrogen - Phosphorus - Potassium. N-P-K represents the three numbers on the sides of fertilizers bags. While the macronutrients are essential, they are vastly over-emphasized and simplified. A soil’s fertility is complex, and deficiencies may be difficult to determine. Heavily fertilized soils may be temporarily rich in N-P-K, but destitute in microorganisms and trace minerals. This mishap creates an improper balance and an even worse case of soil nutrient depletion.

The absolute best thing you can do for your future gardening efforts is to replenish the carbon and organic matter in your gardens. Carbon is THE essential element. It is critical for living microbes to survive and thrive, then used and returned to the soil through organic matter.

Nutrient DepletionFortunately, nature provides us a beautiful cycle just when we need it. Remember all of the grass clippings, weed piles, and vegetable scraps? These items are perfect for compost and food for the soil. Additionally, when the leaves begin to descend upon the ground, we are provided with more organic matter to compost and incorporate thus breaking the cycle of soil depletion. With this blessing, the soil microbes can leverage our organic inputs to transform the soils elements into plant ready food.

This cycle is the reason for our phase three products, Garden Ignition and Turf Revival. These organic products replenish and rejuvenate tired soils and pack a punch with a wealth of the right microbiology at the right time for maximum restoration of soil nutrient depletion.

Don't make the mistake of pruning, cleaning and discarding this fall. Use what nature has provided and make your gardens vibrant and healthy. Happy fall!

September 08, 2016

Plants & Crops ›  

Don’t risk getting it wrong...Compost Tea!

Make Compost Tea

Since the dawn of time, farmers and gardeners have used this rich “decanted brew” as a liquid fertilizer, or "organic tea". It’s just called “tea” because of its typical dark color and the fact that we brew it into existence. Don’t drink it. It won’t do you any good, and it tastes terrible. Please don’t ask me how I know.

Many garden enthusiasts have at least heard of the wonders of compost tea. It is easy to find many recipes online as well as thousands of tips and tricks. If you search Amazon or eBay for compost tea, you will certainly find many contraptions and devices to help you brew a batch. There is a ton of buzz online about compost tea and for good reason - the benefits of compost tea are numerous. Compost teas work quickly and efficiently. Usually applied as a foliar spray, they are sprayed directly onto plant leaves during critical times, such as heat stress or root damage to quickly help with the healing process and strengthen your plants from the top down.

Benefits of Compost Tea

  • Improves plant growth by protecting plant surfaces through competitive exclusion.
  • Improves plant growth by improving nutrient retention in the soil.
  • Improves plant nutrition by increasing nutrient availability in the root system. 
  • Reduces the negative impacts of chemical-based pesticides, herbicides, and fertilizers on beneficial microorganisms in the ecosystem
  • Improves the uptake of nutrients through foliar uptake
  • Improves soil structure.

Challenges of Compost Tea

  • The nutrient content of each type of compost tea will be different.
  • The microbe content of each type of tea will be different.
  • It is a messy, time-consuming and often odorous undertaking.
  • Compost Tea can be dangerous.

Compost tea is great; however, if you want to make your own, so many things can go wrong. Compost teas are made by extracting beneficial nutrients and microbes from organic materials by soaking them in water. But unlike the tea you drink, it isn’t only what's in the bag that matters. The method of brewing is just as important, including brew time, temperature, and many other variables. These can radically affect the benefits, quality, and reliability of organic tea. Getting it wrong can make your tea toxic.

You may go through all the trouble to make a home-brewed compost tea, but if some sneaky bacteria, virus or mold gets into the process, then your tea will have it as well. The reality is that along with the ‘good’ microbes you might also be growing ’harmful’ ones. You could be growing bacteria that will make you or your plants sick. These possible contaminants will not only be of no benefit to your plants but can kill them!

Think about what you are doing when you make your compost tea. You are creating an incubator for microbes. You are providing the moisture, the food, and the right oxygen levels to grow bacteria. But which microbes are you growing? You have no way of knowing. The process for making compost tea is not selective – you grow whatever is in the pot. Aerated compost tea can contain Salmonella and E. coli both of which can prove to be deadly to humans.

Still, think you want to make your own? Here is more information to help you decide. A quality home brewed compost tea would theoretically begin with a quality compost. But in actuality, this is where the challenge begins. Composts are highly variable in composition. They start with water, carbon, and nitrogen supplied by decaying organic material which is a source of other macro and micro-nutrients, such as amino acids, sugars, etc. The content of these ingredients can vary widely. For example, the quality of animal manure alone varies tremendously according to:

  • the species and age of the animal it comes from
  • how well decayed or how old it is (C / N ratio) 
  • the diet of the animal. 

Plant materials vary primarily due to:

  • the kind and age of the plant
  • the nutrients (fertilizers) taken up by the plant
  • the presence of symbiotic nitrogen-fixing microbes 
  • the presence of volatile oils, auxiliary substances, and other plant exudates. 

You can see why the results of these variations can be quite substantial on producing quality compost tea.

Even under ideal conditions, the chemical and biological properties of compost will vary according to how long it decays. Younger compost is closer to the original raw materials than well-aged compost. As compost ages, it converts sugars and carbohydrates, which many disease organisms prefer as food, into starches that beneficial microbes prefer.

The level of decomposition of the source material used in a compost tea will affect the length of time it needs to brew. Theoretically the longer the tea “brews”, the better it will be, except that within a few days (unless carefully aerated) the mixture will go anaerobic, meaning there is little if any oxygen within it. Microbes in the slurry pull all the oxygen out of the water. This oxygen deprivation turns over the production of the tea to oxygen avoiding (anaerobic) bacteria, which produce an inferior tea with fewer available nutrients and organic acids that are harmful to plant growth.

So here are the real dangers that can happen to your home brewed compost tea. Harmful bacteria, viruses, and molds can potentially populate your compost tea, not only a threat to your plants, but also your pets and family.

The easy way to get the full benefits of a compost tea without the fuss and risk is to buy a reputable commercial product like Southland Organic’s Ultimate Tea. Ultimate Tea is a highly concentrated liquid that provides amazing results when applied to plants. Ultimate Compost Tea is the combination of Activated Carbon+Organic Acids+Beneficial Biology. High in Cypress lignin, vegetative and marine carbon, Ultimate Tea brings a plethora of benefits to the table far outstripping what is made in any home brew tea.

So how can companies like Southland Organics produce a compost tea? How does it have a shelf life? How can it be bottled? We will answer those questions next. Please stay tuned!

June 17, 2016

Plants & Crops ›  

Beneficial Garden Insects

Beneficial insects are a vital part of our ecosystem. Without them, there would be little harmony and balance in our agricultural systems and your personal garden.

Each winter as the chill of the air rolls in I am reminded of the importance of beneficial garden insects as hundreds of ladybugs somehow find their way into our master bathroom. They seek the warmth and moisture and are fascinating to observe. I am certain if my mother reads this that I will soon get a lecture on the inefficiencies of our windows and doors, but this year it has been particularly enjoyable to observe the ladybugs as our two-year-old daughter loves them! View full article →
April 15, 2016

Animal Health ›   Poultry ›  

Poultry Farming: Battling Poultry Disease The Proper Way

Poultry Farming

As a poultry grower, perhaps the greatest fear you have is disease. E. Coli, Clostridium, Salmonella, Enteritis and many other diseases can decimate a flock, leaving a grower with bills to pay and no money to pay those bills. The traditional way to fight disease has always been a disinfection strategy. Clean out and sterilize everything in the house, and give the birds antibiotics as a way of disinfecting the inside of the bird.

The “disinfect in and out” strategy is partially correct: it is about both sides of the bird. Not the left side and the right side, but the inside and the outside. As time goes on though, we have found that there is a problem with the traditional strategy. Disinfection and antibiotics may be causing other problems, and those problems are beginning to look serious.

View full article →
February 26, 2016

We Feed The Soil

Soil Amendments

That little jingle was coined a few years ago by my great buddy Matt Chastain.  Matt has a knack for breaking down the complex into simple and relatable communication.  When we started Southland Organics, we were mesmerized by the technology and science that fuel our products.  Soon enough we found ourselves speaking a language that we barely understood and there were very, very few people that could understand our products.  One day I was explaining to Matt some complex biological problem that we solved for a farmer somewhere and Matt stopped me cold - "Did the farmer understand all of that?" he asked . . . I said, "No, but he did understand the results and that was all he cared about!"

At that point, we decided to stripped down all of the geek speak and broke the science down into something clean and concise, something our customers could make sense of.  Alas, enough of the techno mumbo jumbo!  At the very essence of our products, the very essence of our company we are about the soil.  Sure we can get into the weeds about the microbiology, organic acids, cation exchange capacity and all that comes with it but at the end of the day, we get our hands dirty and care for the very thing that cares for us. . . The soil.

Our challenge to you this spring as your gardens begin to grow and your grass begins to green is to remember the backbone of Mother Nature and care for your dirt.

June 10, 2015

Animal Health ›  

Quail Farm Disease & High Mortality

Quail Diseases

The story begins with a few quail birds getting sick on the gamefarm in one pen. The sickness continued to progress until it was at 100% mortality. I treated the ground with many products, additives, supplements, antibiotics, and added more birds for a second time with the same result-- 100% mortality rate.

I used another claim to fame product with the same result! Now I was completely at a loss! Total losses were now greater than 3500 birds!

On the 3rd try adding birds, I had contacted 5 different universities across the country with experience in Bobwhite Quail, with Diagnostic labs including the local state lab. We all worked together trying to solve the issue of birds’ mortality rate. We tried changing feed, treating the ground, removing soil and replacing with new soil, antibiotics, electrolytes/vitamins, supplements, burning the ground, but none of the worked! I still continued to lose birds in this pen.

In the 4th batch of birds, the sickness had now spread into the next pen despite the barrier between the pens. It was not until Dr. Chris Seabury (at Texas A&M) did some research and suggested that I call Southland Organics that I discovered a product called Litter Life. 

In talking with the folks at Southland Organics (Allen Reynolds), I agreed to order the product and give it a try. What did I have to lose? I did another clean on the pen keeping all the variables the same, with the exception of now I was spraying down the Litter Life.

After the first application, within 5 days the mortality was decreasing and within 2 weeks it was down to 1% loss. I resprayed again 2 weeks and over the course of a month mortality was eradicated. I called to let all the universities, vets at the labs, and doctors know what the results were. They were very impressed that I was able to turn the mortality around. I now continue to use this product. On a routine basis of every 12 weeks, I spray the pens, and I have had no more issues with the problem. I also spot spray in areas that have a high concentration of ammonia and clean the pens.

I was not only impressed with the product but also the ongoing customer support from Allen Reynolds at Southland Organics. He worked with me to not only solve the problem but to save my business as well. I also wish to thank Dr. Chris Seabury at Texas A&M, U of Arizona diagnostic lab, Univ. of Mississippi, Univ. of Georgia, Univ. of Arkansas, and San Diego State.

I will continue to use Litter Life from Southland Organics as long as both of us are in business. The only cons with this product are: 1) it stains clothes, 2) it has a problem not suspending in water so it constantly plugging up the sprayer. (BUT I'M TOLD THAT THAT PROBLEM HAS BEEN CORRECTED)

Again, thank you Allen Reynolds at Southland Organics for your product, time, and patience.



Dennis Brown
Brown's Gamebird Farm
Tucson, AZ
April 07, 2015

Plants & Crops ›  

What is Soil Conditioner?

What is Soil Conditioner?

What is Soil Conditioner? Most simply put soil conditioner is a substance that can be added to soil to change the soil properties.

We carve out this definition simply to provide distinction and clarity for our customers.  In todays “fast green” world we see an over abundance of fertilizers and heavy focus on the chemical inputs but we often ignore the other two categories of soil amendments.  At Southland Organics we distinctly divide soil amendments into 3 categories;

Fertilizers - be it organic or synthetic a fertilizer is a soil amendment that provides plant nutrients.


Soil inoculants - are soil amendments that add biology to the soil in order to improve the soil food web. Often these focus on bacteria or fungi but can also include beneficial nematodes and other biology that play key roles in the carbon cycle (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carbon_cycle) or nitrogen cycle (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nitrogen_cycle).  Soil biology plays a tremendous role in a healthy environment.

Soil conditioners - As previously stated that enhance soil properties.  Often this is thought of as altering the soil physical structure but that is only part of the effect.  Soil properties include many areas such as cation exchange capacity, soil ph, water holding capacity, or or soil compaction.

In classifying a soil amendment we basically evaluate the product based on its impact. Does the product provide nutrients?  If so then it is a fertilizer.  Does the product deliver biology to the soil?  If so then it is an inoculant.  If the product does not provide any of nutrients or biology but is deemed as beneficial for plant life then by default it is a soil conditioner.  It should be noted that many soil amendments take on aspects of a fertilizer, inoculant and or a conditioner but their objective should be clearly defined.

Soil conditioners repair damaged soil and help maintain the soil quality for plant life. Over time soil will become compacted soil conditioners help to loosen the soil as well as replenish and maintain nutrients in order for the plants to flourish. For the best result it is important to mix the soil and the soil conditioner before planting. Though some soil conditioners do work better when placed on top of the soil after planting the crop.

Soil conditioners may consist of organic matters. These would be the plant and animal remains that are in various stages of decomposition, typically referred to as compost.  When compost is added to the existing soil it begins decomposing immediately as it provides an additional rich food source for the microorganisms in the soil. The microorganisms eat the plant and animal remains and eventually die, thus adding themselves to the organic composition of the soil. The end product of this cycle is Humus, which is dark brown or black and will not decompose any further. Humus is important to the condition of the soil because it readily chelates soil nutrients and greatly increases the water holding capacity.  By providing organic matter as a soil conditioner we are helping the plants sustain a healthy life. When the soil becomes depleted of organic matter and water tends to drain and the biology is less prolific. Therefore the plants have a harder time sustaining life.

The soil’s ability to hold and release various elements and compounds that plants need for nutrition is through a process called Cation Exchange Capacity (CEC).  Soil Conditioners are used to balance out the Cation Exchange Capacity within the different types of soil. Because there are various types of soil, there are various levels of the CEC within each of these different types. Soil conditioners will bind together the atoms plants need in order to grow. They are also able to release the different nutrients at the time when the plant needs them the most. The property of the soil is ultimately changed through the soil conditioner to be the most perfect state that a plant needs to grow.

March 26, 2015

Animal Health ›   Poultry ›  

Big ole Bird Ingredients

Poultry Probiotic

Over the course of time we have been asked often "what are the ingredients in Big ole Bird?" Despite our open and honest reply many people are confused at the answer. The ingredients are straightforward, simplistic and non-proprietary. In order to earn the WSDA Organic Certification for Materials Approved for Use in Organic Production & Handling we had to fully disclose our full ingredient list and manufacturing process.

Ready for the amazingly complex list of ingredients? Here ya go . . .

  • Organic Composted Humus
  • Deionized Water, cas# 7732-18-5
  • Fuller’s Earth (organic agricultural clay) cas# 8031-18-3

That's it! That is the full list that is supplied on the application.

So why the confusion? Well lets quickly eliminate two of the ingredients. Deionized water is simply water that has been run through a powerful filter called a deionizer. This process simply removes minerals from the water supply. The second ingredient that is simplistic is the Fuller's Earth. This is essentially a clay that we use as a thickening agent or suspension liquid. See the Fuller's Earth Wikipedia article.

That leaves us with the ingredient that sets Southland Organics apart. The portion that makes this simplistic ingredient list seem like we are holding something back, it's the Organic Composted Humus. You can read all about the source of the humate deposit.

What Is Big Ole Bird and What Does it Do?


Why is this effective and worthy of your hard earned dollars? Why is this beneficial for the health of your beloved flock? Simply put Big ole Bird replenishes with living biology and provides valuable activated carbon. The process of cold water extraction leaves not only indigenous biology fully intact but provides an environment for them to rapidly multiply. Here’s a look at some of the indigenous microbiology and what they do:

Bacillus mojavensis
The biosurfactant produced reduces the interfacial tension between hydrocarbons and aqueous. Oxidizes sulfide and nitrate.
Bacillus subtilis
One of the poultry powerhouses. Eliminates harmful bacterial through competitive exclusion. Improves feed conversion and growth promotion.
Nitrobacillus georgiensis
Nitrifies ammonia and produces biosurfactant. Enhances the emulsification of hydrocarbons and increase their availability for microbial degradation.
Bacillus sp.
Strong production of biosurfactant.
Paenebacillus polymyxa
Reduces nitrate. Produces biosurfactant.
Bacillus megaterium
Provides enzymes for feather degradation, waste processing and processing phosphates. "tightens the gut"
Bacillus amyloliquefaciens
Breaks down starch into sugars. Increases feed conversion. Click here to read the study
Bacillus pumilus
Aerobic and anaerobic growth with strong biosurfactant production. Sulfur oxidizer and starch degrader.

So how is something so simple so powerful? Nature! We adore her beauty and enjoy her bounty.

We hope this clarifies a few things for you and puts you at ease knowing that we have performed our due diligence. Additionally we have sought out and secured the best certification possible. See our listing on the WSDA Materials Approved for Use in Organic Production & Handling

March 25, 2015

Animal Health ›  

Dry Poultry Litter

I can think of few things that are as fun as putting on your mud boots at 4:30 in the morning and wading through the thick muck of a wet chicken house floor. Not only is it unpleasant, to say the least, it is also detrimental to the health of your birds.

High levels of moisture in the litter can have many adverse effects. Bacteria will grow which can cause all types of disease and odors including ammonia. The presence of insects will increase, you will have burned feet, breast blisters, and many other physical problems. And if that is not enough there will probably be some carcass downgrading in your future.

If you are reading this article then you don’t have to be convinced of the downsides to a wet litter floor. Dealing with moisture is not difficult unless you are trying to deal with it in an environment used to grow food. There are many toxic and less than ideal ways to get rid of moisture, most of which are unhealthy. If something corrodes your metal equipment in your house then think what it must be doing to your feathery assets walking on that floor.

Leaky water lines and poor drainage from storm runoff can create wet litter. These are things that require plain ole manual labor to fix. Southland Organics would not be much of a help in these areas without coming to visit and staying for dinner. Where we CAN help is in the more difficult causes of moisture in the house. Even in the cases of water accumulation from lines and drainage,Litter Life dries the litter floor.

Litter Life is an organic litter treatment that has numerous health benefits. We like to say that Litter Life creates a Healthy Litter Floor. We receive calls and emails daily for various problems where growers need a solution. They range from ammonia to E. coli to darkling beetles. Litter Life deals with all of these and more but whatever drives a customer to use Litter Life, the one thing they all acknowledge is its effectiveness at keeping a dry floor.

Decomposing waste is essentially the task at hand in a litter floor. Litter Life’s base formula is rich carbon with humic and fulvic acids that is teeming with indigenous biology. These are nature’s key players when it comes to returning to the soil the nutrients that we, and our livestock, consume. Our humic acid source has the highest carbon count ever recorded. You don’t have to research far to find the importance of the carbon to nitrogen ratio in composting. When the C:N ratio is in proper balance decomposition is greatly accelerated. About 25:1 to 30:1 is the ideal. When this ratio is not met, decomposition takes longer leaving high levels of moisture in the litter. Decomposition by its very nature dries the organism. Washington State University found that when the C:N ratio is low, the available carbon is used up and the excess nitrogen is released as ammonia.

Another obstacle to keeping a dry floor is when caking takes place. The organic fulvic acid in Litter Life penetrates and breaks up compacted soil. Each fulvic acid molecule is highly oxygenated. Whether you are planting a tree in hard ground or needing to break up a litter cake, organic acids penetrate and aerate. Litter Life has many many benefits but a dry floor is one of its greatest accomplishments.

Besides being extremely effective, it is also organic. Until recently, no one was certifying litter treatments for organic use. We received our first approval two months ago from the State of Pennsylvania. Our poultry probiotic Big ole Bird was certified last year and has paved the way for Litter Life. You can use this product with birds in the house and you don’t have to worry about getting it on your person. It is nature’s solution to nature’s problems. Maybe you can trade those mud boots in for a pair of flip flops. Well…..maybe not.

Learn More About Litter Life
April 01, 2014

Bioremediation ›  

Odor Control in Portable Toilets

Odor Control in Portable Toilets

Portable toilet and pumper companies were facing increasing resistance and escalating regulations from operators of wastewater treatment facilities concerning the composition of chemicals being pumped into the systems from the tanks of the pumping trucks. Companies using formaldehyde, or formaldehyde-based odor control products were the main target. Many products being used would create two major problems for the treatment facilities. The introduction of many of the toxic products into the treatment system would cause “biological kills” of the bacteria being used to degrade the solid waste and control biochemical oxygen demand (BOD) in the facility. These toxic products in the effluent would also create unacceptable water release problems for the facilities. Also contributing to the need to find an alternative product was the fact that most of the products on the market were hazardous to handle, and in some cases, actually fatal if ingested, even in very small quantities. The companies were faced with a two-fold problem. First, they had to have a safe, effective product to control the odors in the portable units. Second, they had to find a product that would be readily accepted by the operators of the wastewater treatment facilities. Most companies had tried natural products that would be acceptable at the treatment facilities, but found the products to be ineffective in controlling the odors in the portable units.

We were approached with the opportunity to show how Southland Organics’ Port was much more powerful than anything else they had tried. The initial field tests were conducted with the assistance of Waste Management. The tests were conducted in southeast Georgia in the month of July. Average daily temperatures ranged 90 to 96 degrees F. The relative humidity was consistently above 90% during the test period. The Port product was found to be extremely effective in controlling odors emitted by the portable units. With a system charge of the Port product, one heavily used test unit was not pumped for 14 days. No offensive odors were ever present in the unit. The unit eventually had to be pumped and cleaned because it had reached volume capacity and near overflowing levels.

Port is not a masking agent that simply covers up unpleasant odors, particularly hydrogen sulfide odors. It actually reduces the effluent’s ability to produce the odors.

Not only is Port accepted by all wastewater treatment facilities, but it also provides a residual benefit to the effluent at the treatment plants by helping to control hydrogen sulfide odors and corrosion along with contributing to a measurable reduction in total suspended solids (TSS) and BOD at the plant.

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