Southland Organics' Evan Gill explains the difference between Fertilizer and Soil Amendments.
As poultry farmers, providing sufficient living conditions and environments for chickens is a practice that is instilled upon us. With a new law coming into effect, “sufficient” living conditions won’t be enough to pass the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Organic Program (NOP) standards.
The Avian Rule, which is set to come into effect in May 2017, will require producers and handlers participating in the National Organic Program to maintain ammonia levels monthly and implement certain practices to sustain ammonia levels below ten parts per million (ppm). For indoor chicken houses, ammonia levels are harder to eliminate due to ventilation issues. In numerous cases, maintaining levels of 10 ppm isn’t always doable right off the bat. If your farm’s ammonia levels exceed 10 ppm, it is crucial to implement further practices and monitoring to ensure that levels steady around 10 ppm and don’t exceed 25 ppm. If levels go beyond 25 ppm, it is considered out of compliance and can cause physical damage to chickens in your chicken house. The new regulations fall under the Animal Welfare Rules that were published in January.
Gangrenous dermatitis is a poultry disease caused by the bacterium, Clostridium and Staph (Staphylococcus aureus). Farmers experience rapid onset of skin lesions and mortality spikes as reactions to Gangrenous dermatitis. The results are disastrous to a flock.
Most treatment protocols call for broad spectrum antibiotics. This mentality and application have led many scientists and doctors outside of the poultry industry to become alarmed, and they have begun to pressure government involvement in the regulation of the overuse of antibiotics. Other protocols call for total cleanout and disinfection of affected poultry houses. Full cleanout and disinfection do little for the farmers, as they are forced to absorb costs and fund an ineffective solution.
'Nature abhors a vacuum' is a well-known statement in some circles. This idiom is used to express the idea that empty or unfilled spaces are unnatural, as they go against the laws of nature and physics. Disinfectants are designed to create biological vacuums.
Disinfectants are only good for a very short period of time. They kill the majority of the microbes on surfaces where they are applied, but that killing power may only be good for a few minutes. After that, you are left with an area completely devoid of any kind of life. Eventually, something will move in to fill that space, and that something will be whatever can migrate from a nearby, non-disinfected area.
It stands to reason that if there is an outbreak of Gangrenous dermatitis in a poultry house, then the disease will be in adjacent areas or the depth of the litter. These areas will not be affected by the application of disinfectants. Therefore the result of the disinfection will be an extermination of both harmful and beneficial bacteria. Without a repopulation strategy of beneficial bacteria, a disinfection has made the situation worse, as the dangerous Gangrenous dermatitis is now unchallenged and has free reign.
By leveraging organic acids with a low molecular weight, Litter Life can penetrate biofilms created by Clostridium and other bacteria. Clostridium, the dangerous bacteria that causes Gangrenous dermatitis, is anaerobic, meaning it does not survive in the presence of oxygen. Since it is oxygen sensitive, Clostridium encapsulates its environment with a biofilm for protection. Litter Life penetrates this biofilm and exposes the Clostridium. Once exposed, the disease-causing bacteria has little chance to wreak havoc on poultry.
Additionally, Litter Life brings 14 beneficial bacterial strains to the party. Suddenly the playing field is leveled, and a war for resources takes place. Litter Life controls the harmful bacteria, and we have homeostasis–a return to the normal.
Litter Life is an incredibly efficient and more intelligent approach to battling Gangrenous dermatitis. As justifiable pressure to eliminate growth-promoting and preventative antibiotic use increases, other methods of controlling disease and getting results are imperative. A comprehensive program for litter management that complies with the laws of nature makes the most sense.
When it comes to fertilizers, water, and wildlife, there can be a lot of technical talk and percentages being thrown around, so we figured an explanation was in order.
What exactly is going on and how does it involve you (or us for that matter)? Here’s the breakdown:
So far, 12 states have recently banned the use of phosphorous in lawn applications (aka fertilizers). Stop right there. What is phosphorous? Phosphorous is a natural mineral nutrient that is essential for plant growth and maturity, and it plays a significant role in photosynthesis as well.
Wait, so you’re telling me that phosphorous is good? Why are states banning it then? What is the need for phosphorus free fertilizer?
There’s too much of it.
These high phosphorous levels are bad–bad for the air, bad for the water, bad for aquatic plants and bad for aquatic animals. And let me be clear as well, it’s not good for the water you end up drinking either. The more pollution there is in the water, the harder it is to make it pure again before you drink it. So, it’s not good for anyone. Hence, the legislation in these states for phosphorus free fertilizer.
I know you’ve heard it said time and time again–there is such thing as too much of a good thing, and that’s what’s going on here. Phosphorous in and of itself isn’t bad. It’s very important, but when we have too much of it, it creates many environmental problems. The new rules and laws surrounding phosphorous application have many different specifications ranging from a balancing act of fertilizer components to times and areas in which phosphorus use are permitted. So far, there is no comprehensive agreement on how to regulate its use or how much of it is used. But what if we told you that you didn’t have to worry about any of this? If you’re using the right products, none of these rules and regulations apply to you.
Here’s the bottom line: we care about the earth we live on, flora and fauna we live among, and the water we drink every day. Therefore, we care about how you take care of those things and how we can help you.
All of these questions like “when can I use phosphorus application?” and “how much can I use?” do not don’t apply to you when you’re using our the proper products. Organic and natural products allow the lawn and garden you work so hard to tend to stay healthy and beautiful, while keeping the earth beautiful, too.Interested in more of the nitty gritty details? You can educate yourself with some more of the facts here: https://cga.ct.gov/2012/rpt/2012-R-0076.htm
If you’ve read over any of our product descriptions, you’ve probably come across the term “competitive exclusion,” and while the folks around our offices throw that phrase around in everyday conversation, we realize that most people have never heard it before. Therefore, we decided to take some time to fully explain what competitive exclusion is and how it plays a key role in the majority of our products.
Competitive exclusion is the principle stating that two species competing for the same resources cannot coexist. When one species has even the slightest advantage or edge over another, then the one with the advantage will dominate in the long term. One of the two competitors will always overcome the other, and in the case of soil, the species in question are on a microscopic level.
If you were to go outside and pick up a handful of dirt, the resulting mass would appear largely uneventful and boring. After all, it’s just a scoop of dirt right? What’s there to see? Well, that clump of dirt in your hands is teeming with microscopic life. There are hundreds of millions of bacterial cells in every gram of soil, and that’s just bacteria! We haven’t even mentioned fungi, actinomycetes, microalgae, protozoa, nematodes, and other invertebrates. In fact, there are more organisms in a gram of soil then there are humans on the earth!
When you start to look at the soil this way, it begins to take on a whole new light. In many ways, the soil itself mimics a living organism. You can have healthy soil, rich with beneficial biology leading to the growth of healthy plants, OR you can very easily have unhealthy soil, which results in the growth of unhealthy, weak plants if there’s any growth at all. That’s where we come in. At Southland Organics, we focus on the health of the soil which inevitably leads to the health of the crops or turf. If the soil is unhealthy or packed with harmful biology, it will prevent the plants from reaching their maximum potential, or worse, will simply snuff them out. This unhealthy soil occurs naturally or artificially due to human involvement. Either way, the result is an environment that is not conducive to proper growth.
Along with the organic acids and carbon, our turf and crop products are packed with beneficial biology. In fact, there are over 25 unique strains of beneficial bacteria present, not to mention the valuable fungi and other biology. Now here’s where the competitive exclusion takes place. Let’s say that your lawn has been over fertilized and the excess nitrogen has caused an imbalance of nutrients that causes a depletion of other important minerals such as calcium, phosphorus and magnesium. The result is a weak lawn that is prone to different pathogens or an infestation of harmful organisms. When you apply a product like Turf Genesis or JumpStart, it releases millions of beneficial organisms that simply outcompete the harmful ones, because when you fully populate an environment with beneficial or even harmless biology that is dominant over other species, it will force those harmful species out.
One example of this is the fungus Trichoderma. Trichoderma not only stimulates plant growth but it is also a known predator of root-feeding nematodes and other disease-causing organisms. Then we have Bacillus Subtilis and Bacillus Mojavensis, bacterias that similarly increase plant growth as well as induce immune resistance. In this wonderful black liquid, there are loads of different good bugs like these. Some increase nutrient uptake and stimulate the growth of the plant, and some don’t even have an affect on plants, but they do a wonderful job of killing the bad bugs.
When you boil it all down, we simply harness Mother Nature’s natural response to harmful biology. We believe the tools to defeat these problematic pests have already been engineered for us, and the proof has been seen time and time again. There’s no need to waste money on expensive, synthetically made products that will often do more harm than good. The answer is natural. The answer is effective. The answer is Southland Organics.
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.
Fortunately, 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!
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
Challenges of Compost Tea
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:
Plant materials vary primarily due to:
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!
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 →
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.
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