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Lively soil, Lively Plants: Mycorrhizae and other Beneficial Soil life

This article is designed to be a primer centered around the topic of Mycorrhizae and their interactions with plants.

corn soil

The question and answer format will help you learn how life in the soil benefits your plants health and how to increase the presence of mycorrhizae and other beneficial life in your soil. This will allow you to harvest the best possible crops whether it be in your home garden or on a larger scale such as an orchard or field.




In modern society we are generally taught to stay away from bacteria, fungi and other microbes and tend towards sterile environments or ones with little diversity. In reality these little creatures are an essential part of any natural ecosystem and are necessary to grow the best plants. The most abundant and resilient farming systems have soil health at their core, a large component of which is soil life. The important types of soil life are almost too numerous to count but a certain group of fungi, the Mycorrhizae, have been well studied and linked to increased plan growth, vigour and health.

What are Mycorrhizae?

Mycorrhizae are types of soil fungi that live in a mutually beneficial symbiosis with plants. They grow in, on and around the roots of plants helping the plant to get more out of the soil. They help make the root zone of the plant as beneficial as possible.

How does it Help?

Mycorrhizae essentially increase the surface area available to the plants roots, acting as little networks of root Hands holding soilextensions. This allows for the plant to be able to reach more nutrients and minerals more efficiently than it could on its own. The plant feeds the mycorrhizae extra sugars it produces and in turn the mycorrhizae brings in water, nutrients and minerals the plant needs. It’s a mutually beneficial arrangement that has had hundreds of millions of years in the making. Many plants still grow without mycorrhizae but not as well or as quickly as they would with it.

On top of being able to grow faster and larger with an extended and enhanced root system, there are many other benefits to mycorrhizae in the soil. Having a healthy population of good microfauna can help ward off certain diseases like ones caused by unwanted fungi or bacteria. The enhanced root system can also grow deeper and hold more water within itself, making any crop more drought tolerant. There is also a measurable benefit to larger root systems aerating and putting more carbon into the soil, help to build it up and make it more suitable for life of all sorts. Unfortunately many soils are depleted of mycorrhizae and other life for various reasons.

What can cause a loss of Mycorrhizae?

The leading causes of loss of mycorrhizae are harsh agricultural practices. Certain crop sprays like pesticides and fungicides can kill mycorrhizae or prevent them from growing back properly. Other disruptive practices like deep tilling, burning, and leaving soil bare can also greatly affect the life in soil, including the mycorrhizal fungi. These fungi normally exist in undisturbed and naturally mulched soils so when they are churned or baked in the sun, they do not fair well. Mimicking the best conditions is the easiest way to promote healthy mycorrhizal fungi populations.

Building Mycorrhizal populations

While properly managed soils should in theory recolonize with microfauna over time, the turn-around time is on the scale of years if not decades. One of the best, and quickest, ways to jump start your soils health and biodiversity, especially if it is degraded or damaged, is to add an inoculant like MycoGold by Biostim ( . Inoculants contain beneficial types of Mycorrhizal fungi and some of the best, like MycoGold, contain other beneficial microorganisms too. Inoculants are an easy and cost effective way to make sure your plants or crop are starting out with the microbiome they need to flourish.

Other Factors affecting Soil Health

Soils of all types can support healthy life of some sort but certain factors affect how well microbes and mycorrhizal fungi can grow and support your plants. Below are some other factors to consider in building and maintaining healthy soil microfauna.

Moisture/Sun Exposure- While dry soils can have lots of dormant microbes in them that will spring to life when dry soilwater comes, a steady source moisture is required to keep them active and thriving. Making sure your soil doesn’t bake in the sun or dry out for prolonged periods of time can help keep it healthy. A great way to do this is to never leave the soil bare, whether it is seeded with a cover crop or mulched heavily, shading the soil and preventing it from drying is essential to healthy soil life.

Drainage/Aeration-While moisture is important it is also important that the soil does not become waterlogged or compacted. The best way to ensure this is to have an inorganic component like sand in your soil.

Organic Matter- Organic matter acts like a sponge, helping hold moisture in the soil near to the surface where the soil life can get it. As discussed above, having moisture readily available has a large impact on soil life.

Mineral Content-While organic matter is great, soils that are completely organic matter, such as pure black top soil, can sometimes be mineral deficient. This can not only affect the health of your plants directly but also through the soil life. Little microbes and fungi need minerals too! They can be the first one to feel deficiencies as they are competing with the plants for them in a way. This is why adding things like rock dust, crushed shale, or even sand can help boost the life in your soil. These soil additives will give back two-fold. Indirectly though better capacity for soil life and directly through uptake into the plants.

A Cyclical System

Having healthy soil life, like a strong mycorrhizae population, not only helps with your current growing but for several crops or plantings to come. When the soil is alive and healthy, it is essentially growing, getting better and more plant friendly as time goes on. The actual lifetime of the full effect of an application of a soil inoculant may vary based on several of the factors discussed above. However, meeting the guidelines for health soil and promoting healthy soil life can help the effect last for years, theoretically forever in a cyclical process of regenerating the soil.

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Mycorrhizal Fungi: Nature’s Gardeners

mycoMycorrhizae are fungi that live in a symbiotic relationship with plants in which energy and nutrient exchange benefit both organisms. The relationship results in improved survival and growth, increased rooting amidst more efficient soil structure, and bio-balance pathogens or other plant species. It is thought that as many as 90% of vascular land plants participate in such a relationship; many could not survive on their own.

Why do Mycorrhizae and Plants Co-Exist?

Mycorrhizal fungi live on the roots of the plant and either physically enter or surround the roots. Here they generate a network of filaments among multiple species of plants, soil bacteria, and other fungi. Mycorrhizae provide additional surface area for nutrient and water uptake, as much as 100 to 1,000 times. All 15 major macro and micro nutrients available in soil are absorbed and transferred to the plant.  Nitrogen and phosphorus are contributed by bacteria and shuttled to the plant through the network of filaments.

Using photosynthesis the plant then converts these building blocks into carbohydrates. This process nourishes both plant and fungi. The fungi cannot produce carbohydrates so the symbiosis is essential for survival. Nutrients are shared within the system and can be diverted to ailing members. Scientists believe that the network of mycorrhizal fungi, plants, and soil bacteria can encompass an entire forested area.

Mycorrhizal fungi also contribute protection to the plant by bio-balancing pathogens. The covering of mycorrhizal filaments acts as a physical barrier. Exudates are secreted by the fungi to bio-balance disease-causing organisms.

Why Do We Need Mycorrhizal Fungi?

A benefit of the presence of mycorrhizal fungi is increased soil porosity and improved soil structure. Tightly bound nutrients such as nitrogen, phosphorus, and iron are dissolved by enzymes the fungi release into the soil. Mycorrhizae improve soil structure in two ways. First, the fungal filaments help hold soil together.  Second, the fungi excrete glomalin, a sticky substance that binds soil together. These actions allow for increased soil porosity, aeration, water movements in addition to erosion resistance.

Many common agricultural practices have reduced or eliminated the presence of mycorrhizal fungi. Irrigation, top soil removal, tillage, erosion, road and home construction, fumigation, and the introduction of non-native plants all contribute to the loss of mycorrhizae in soil.  Commercial applications of mycorrhizae have been developed to combat the effects of today’s man-made environments featuring compacted soil, the loss of top soil, and the absence of necessary organic matter.  Botanists often amend soil with mycorrhizal fungi as it known to increase rooting generation, drought resistance, salt tolerance, crop yields, and reductions in transplant shock. Mycorrhizal plants fare better under drought conditions than plants without a fungal relationship.

Not every plant needs mycorrhizal fungi in the same way. As there are a myriad plant species so are there thousands of fungal species. Each fungus excels in its own way, be it improving soil or capturing nutrients. The dependence of the plant on mycorrhizal fungi depends on its own capabilities and environment. Some plants need a mycorrhizal relationship to survive while others merely need it during times of stress. It is clear that without the mycorrhizal relationship the Earth’s flora would be a mere whisper of its potential.

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Testing The Water – What Does Your Horse Drink?

We all feed the feed we believe is best for our horse. We add on those pricey but necessary, and oh so carefully selected supplements. We choose hay that is good quality, and a pasture that is free of toxic plants. Our horses are our best friends, our athletes, our partners and our family. We strive to keep their well being in mind, and pour hundreds of dollars into their health every year. Yet so many of us overlook the most basic and fundamental substance that our horses need to consume not just to thrive, but even survive – water.


Giving your horse constant access to clean, fresh, water is one of the very basics of stable management. Many horse owners dedicate hours of research into their feed of choice, they meticulously gather information on any supplements they use, yet when it comes to water, why do so many of us fail to see its importance? We tackle feeding with a fine toothed comb, giving so much careful consideration to what we choose to input into our horses, yet so many of us let the most basic input of all go unchecked.


Water isn’t just consumed by your horse every time he dips his head to the bucket you fill each night in his stable. The automatic drinkers, the stream running through the pasture, the field trough or the pond he likes to wade in, all give him access to water too. This water isn’t pure just because it appears clean, and though we police what we put into our horse’s body feed-wise, so many of us forget to question, what exactly is water bringing to that mix? As a natural solvent, this liquid picks up little pieces of the environments it has travelled through. From minerals through to chemicals or bacteria, so much can be dissolved in water, while us, and our horses, are none the wiser.


One end to this uncertainty, and a safeguard against it, is water testing. Many barns today, draw their water from wells, making testing even more important as potential for contamination is particularly high. Even water from a main public or city line can, in some cases, be a cause for concern. Although this kind of water is filtered and tested extensively at the source, any fault from there on out, be it in the pipes, the storage, or the plumbing, still results in a problem with the end result – the water you provide for your horse. Though water may appear clean and safe, it is impossible to tell what levels of which harmful compounds are, or aren’t, lurking hidden inside that bucket, without testing it.


Test results show you the levels of the compounds and bacteria in your horse’s drinking water, and even the pH. One compound that can be tested for is Magnesium. Along with Calcium, these salts could be giving you ‘hard’ water. While this is usually no problem for your horse, at high levels, Magnesium can cause unpleasant diarrhoea in equines, meaning being in the know is important. Iron is also on most test panels. Underground, the compound is usually colourless, but on exposure to air or heat, it has the potential to stain water red or rusty in colour and carry a metallic taste. This iron can lead to iron loving bacteria, which feed on the compound and create a rusty slime that covers the inside of your pipes, reducing their effectiveness and lifespan. Another mineral worthy of mention, is lead. Although its effects on horses are not well understood, we’ve all heard the term ‘lead poisoning’ and it’s not hard to imagine high levels are best avoided.

horse-troughTotal coliforms levels check your water for bacteria that usually lives in soil and both animal and human waste. Though these bacteria themselves are not particularly harmful, their presence can act as an indicator that your water supply may be contaminated with run off water from a septic tank, or even the muckheap, paving the way for contamination with things you definitely do not want your horse drinking! Pesticides and extremely harmful substances such as blue-green algae can also be identified through having your horse’s water checked. Testing puts you in the know, and arms you with the information you need to make choices about exactly what your horse’s drinking water exposes him to.


As well as protecting your horse, water testing can also be beneficial for increasing the lifespan and integrity of your pipes and fixtures. For example, pH, which tests the acid or alkaline levels in water, is helpful in this area. Acidic water can contribute to corrosion of pipes, while an alkaline result suggests a high chance of deposits of crusty minerals lining your pipes, reducing their efficiency.


It is advised that water supplied by a well is tested annually, though if any changes in your water occur, it might also be time to get tested. This could include a change in colour, odour or taste of the water, as well as any horse, human or other animal getting sick with a water-borne disease, flooding occurring near your water supply, or work being carried out on the pipes or other fixtures.


In addition to testing, following a few common sense water tips can also pay dividends when it comes to staying in control of what your horse consumes, and making sure he stays healthy. All water buckets, baths, or troughs should be checked and filled daily, to ensure a continuous supply of clean water. This applies to automatic drinkers too. Be vigilant for any signs of contamination, be it build up of dirt, algae, or poop, and ready to clean accordingly! Don’t allow horses to have access to any stagnant or contaminated water, and if you’re not sure that the water is safe, remove access and find another source, until it has been tested and has the all clear.


It can be difficult to find specific guidelines for horse’s drinking water, as generally they are lumped into the livestock category. By undertaking water testing, you can at least ensure that the water they consume is, clean, safe, and is suited to their needs as possible. After all, the average horse drinks at least half a gallon of water for every 100 pounds of their body weight, per day, giving it the power to make a significant difference to their overall wellbeing. Water testing eliminates the unknown. It ensures that you really do have rule number one of good stable management down, by confirming the water your horse has access to really is clean, and safe for him to drink.


By Emma Doherty – Luna Sport Horses

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Finding the Perfect Farm Dog

Second only behind big, red barns, the farm dog is an iconic set piece in farm history. Thought of as companions, herders, guardians and more, these dogs fill a major need for farms, even still today. But what makes a farm dog a farm dog? What traits should you be looking for? What breeds fit those traits? These are important questions to ask when trying to determine what kind of dog you need on your farm.


Are you looking for a companion dog that can stay by your side through the day and at night protect your family and maybe some small livestock? Are you looking for something to herd a flock of a sheep or a large herd of cattle? Whether you are looking at getting a farm dog to to watch the chickens or a dog that will be out in the fields working with you all day, you have to get the right breed for the job. Selecting the proper breed, doing the proper training, and assigning a fitting job are all parts of successfully owning a farm dog.


Selecting the Right Breed


Selecting a breed isn’t as simple as going to a pet store and picking out a pup. You need to do your homework and prepare yourself for the next step. First, take a look at what you are trying to do. If you are needing to herd sheep, look for intelligent dogs that have a high work drive, low prey drive, and can protect the flock if needed from predators. If you are herding cattle, look at breeds that are small, low to the ground, and are practically fearless. They, too, will need that working instinct. If there are other jobs, such as pulling, guarding or pest control, you’ll need to factor these in as well.


Once you have done your research, you need to prepare yourself and your home for a new dog. This is no different than if you were getting a dog for personal companionship. Making sure you have the food, toys, a bed, a crate. They’ll still need training, everything from basic obedience and potty training to training for the job you intend them to do. Some dogs have a natural instinct to herd or guard, so training that as early as possible is a great way to capitalize on that instinct.


Let’s take a look at each specific job and understand what it is that is needed, and what breeds best fit those jobs.


Sheep Herding


Herding sheep requires a softer touch than herding cattle does. This is why it’s important to get the right breed for sheep herding. Working in tandem with their handler, a well-trained herding dog will listen to the commands (and in some areas of the world, whistles!) to determine where and how fast to move the sheep. Using these commands, the dog is able to herd the sheep wherever the owner needs them. This means they can move them into pens, new grazing areas, away from dangerous areas, or away from feeding pens so the owner can put out feed without being trampled.


To successfully control the sheep in such a way, you need a calm, yet authoritative, approach, or else the sheep may end up to riled up and won’t move the way you want them to. This is why it is imperative that your dog remain calm yet willful, without being too much to spook the sheep.


The best breeds for sheep herding are Border Collies and Australian Shepherds. There are other breeds that can herd sheep, but none do it with the grace of these two dogs. A border collie, for example, uses the commands it’s owner gives him, and moves the sheep through eye contact. A well trained border collie need not bark or move too much, as eye contact alone will get the sheep moving. This is called “active-eye” or “strong-eye” herding. Border collies, however, are extremely energetic dogs, and without a job to do, can become extremely destructive. This is why they make such good herding dogs.


If, however, your herding needs are less demanding, an Australian Shepherd may be a better choice for you. Aussies, while still having that high work drive, are not quite as energetic as border collies and are usually content with an honest days work. They herd the sheep by moving around them, gathering them into a group, and literally commanding them where to go by walking behind them. This is called “loose-eye” herding. Typically, aussies work in groups instead by themselves, and this allows them to work a herd of sheep easier, as the way they make them move requires lots of movement behind the flock, cutting behind the flock and forcing them to move in the direction they want.


Cattle Herding


Cattle herding requires a lot more than sheep herding. This is due, in part, to the large size of the animals. Aside from that, cattle are known to be stubborn, so you need a strong-willed dog (and a strong will of your own) to make it work. The biggest thing to remember is that herding cattle can be very dangerous, for you and the dogs working with them. One false step, one mis-timed nip, one mistake can lead to serious injury or worse. Again, this warning is not just for the dogs, but yourself as well.


Unlike sheep, cattle are typically herded physically. While the dogs still listen to commands, they are rougher with the much larger cattle. This is typically done by nipping at the heels, or cutting, similar to what aussies do for sheep (and can do with cattle, as well). Cattle herding is done, typically, with loose-eyed dogs.


Two great breeds for cattle herding may shock you. The Australian Cattle Dog and the Corgi (both breeds). Many people may assume you need a bigger, tougher dog to drive cattle, but the truth is, these two miniscule breeds have it where it counts. These two were bred extensively for cattle herding. Australian Cattle Dogs, specifically, were bred to work in the herd, running between cows, nipping at heels and driving them for stockyards. The Corgi was bred to drive cattle as well, and does it much the same way the Australian Cattle Dog does.


Other Jobs


There are other jobs that happen on a farm that a dog can help with. For example, if you need something that can pull a cart, but would rather use a dog than a pony, a Bernese Mountain Dog makes a great puller! Another job could be pest control. If your farm is low on livestock but high on crops, pests can be a big problem. Thankfully, dogs like the Jack Russel Terrier were bred specifically to deal with pests.


Often times, a dog is needed to protect a flock of sheep from predators. Dogs like the Great Pyranese and German Shepherd can not only herd, but are great protectors as well. They act as guardians to the flock, and are able to hold their own against any would be predator.


Don’t Judge a Book


You’ve heard the phrase don’t judge a book by it’s cover. That principle applies to herding dogs as well. Just because it’s a Border Collie doesn’t mean it’s going to be fit for herding. Just because it’s a Corgi doesn’t mean it’s ready for cattle. You need to look for dogs from working lines, with strong working instinct. And don’t be pigeonholed into a certain breed based on what they are good at working. An Australian Shepherd can work cattle, and a Cattle Dog can work sheep and goats.


The important thing is finding the right dog for the job. If you follow the advice, do a lot of research, you’ll find the perfect match for your needs. Just keep learning and not only will you find the right dog for the job, but you’ll find a great companion as well.



by Kimberly LeMaster

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Sun Exposure and Your Health

Sun exposure is an interesting thing because it has both beneficial health effects, yet can also have adverse effects for your health over long term exposure. You body needs the things that sunlight provides so it is always a good thing to get out and enjoy the sunshine when it comes to your area. Some locations have sun all the time and others it is severely limited to short seasons so it is not always an easy thing to either get enough sun, or prevent yourself from getting to much.

Benefits of Sun Exposure
sunlight_1The benefits of the ultraviolet radiation in sunlight are more than most people think about. We all have heard that it is a good source of vitamin D, however have you heard all the good affects that vitamin D has to offer. Ultraviolet light and the vitamin D it passes on can help you by strengthening bones and inhibiting the development of some cancer. It also helps maintenance of circadian rhythms as well as well as helping to reduce the risk of seasonal affective disorder which is becoming a more focused on disorder in recent years.

Problems of Overexposure to Sunlight

There are many known conditions associated with long term sunlight exposure. Skin cancer and skin aging are the ones we have heard about most as well as immune suppression.There are also eye diseases linked to too much sun exposure such as, cataracts and macular degeneration which is a loss of vision in the center area of the vision field. So while sunlight has some good benefits, limiting exposure would be a good idea to help avoid some serious health conditions.

How much exposure is good exposure?

Researchers have a hard time deciding this due to the many variables involved: Time of day, time of year, geographical latitude, cloud cover, sunscreen or not, ground altitude and smog are some of the difficulties in coming to a firm conclusion. The suggestion is that moderate sun exposure to the face, arms and legs anywhere between 5-30 minutes twice a week can be beneficial without risking health issues. That however seems a little vague and it might be best to go with your own judgment. If you get plenty of sunlight throughout the course of your normal day then maybe spending hours on the beach over the weekend is not a good idea. Of course severe sunburns are always considered unhealthy so be careful with that aspect as well.

Perhaps just common sense will do the trick too. If you are spending the day at the lake maybe picking out where the shade is and move from one to the other. When you are getting to hot go sit in the shade and enjoy the breeze. You don’t have to be in the sun all the time to get the vitamin D or to have a good time.

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Could Your Cellphone Could Causing Health Issues?

What is amazing about the possibilities of any damage coming from using cellphone’s, as well as all the electronic devices we feel are necessary for day to day life, is that it is not positively known if they do damage. There seems to be many indications that this is the case, there are scientists who believe this is the case, but as yet there is no concrete proof. So they are still mass marketed and we all have to have one. Is that wise though?


Consider that by the time science can give us proof, and that if that proof is yes it does cause health issues, then what do we do? We have all been using these things for years and will continue for years more. DDT was used for years before there were any provable bad health effects. We now know from statistics it was the cause of cancer in people that did not show until years after the exposure. We could be doing that again.

The problem that is being considered is the EMF that is generated by cellphones, (electromagnetic field) these fields emit electromagnetic radiation. All electric devices that run on alternate current (AC), have this affect. Some products have more than others, but they all have it. This also includes wireless transmitters like cell phones. So essentially we are holding a radiation emitting device against our skulls. Keep in mind if you think this is alarmist; our bodies are moved by electrical current. It seems doubtful that there would be no affect whatsoever, all things considered.

There are those who believe we should wait for definitive proof of harm before taking any action. Most of these groups are predictably industry leaders who sell, or profit from the sales and mass use of cellphone’s. This makes sense when you consider there are several different industries that market one form of electronic device, or software made for cellphone’s, or cellphone accessories or any one of many more that make up billions of dollars a year in sales and manufacturing. That is collectively millions of employees and employers whose livelihood could potentially be affected. Even with that being true, it still does seem like a good idea to at least find a way to lesson potential damages in the future. There may be billions of dollars at stake, but there are hundreds of millions of people whose health could be at risk.
cell-phone-towerYet that side of the argument saying that until proof comes out it should be business as usual is not just the cell phone companies. Consider the whole power grid in the United States is an EMF generating network that reaches most people in America and 75% of the world’s population. Not only is that not something that can just be switched off, it is something with powerful backing. In the United States there are leaders who say that there is no danger because the FCC says so, despite any indications to the contrary. Big corporations pay their scientist to find answers they want, not answers that are actually real answers to the question, and it is becoming more and more clear that that is who the FCC listens to in many cases.

I recently learned that most college or even high school health classes all the way into nursing or earlier doctor training do not mention EMF radiation. It seems the only time it comes up is that it is a part of the equipment used in diagnostics. The fact that it is not even mentioned seems like a mistake. Health practitioner training should at least mention that there is a debate about that subject. I do not know if this is a concerted effort by the industries and their scientist to make the knowledge less accessible, or just our culture. Modern society is run completely on things powered by electrical energy, generators, and batteries. It is so much a part of everyday life for most of us it is not something we think about. Perhaps we do not think about it because of the implications.

The power went out for a week outside the Seattle Washington area 5 to 7 years ago and it was fairly widespread. Computer, phones, heat, and lights were all off. I remember reading how that people would drive just outside of the affected area to get gas for their cars and not only was their lines around the block, there were fist fights over getting gas for cars. This is how tied into EMF radiation emitting devices we are. The pumps don’t work so people go somewhere else and fight over it. This alone is proof on a small scale that there is no way we could just shut things down. It is too much a part of our society and consciousness.

The other side of the argument is scientists and analysts who believe in taking a precautionary approach to any public risks like this. The problem they are fighting is that there is nothing concrete on what the health risks might be, or would constitute safe usage. Like, how long a day should you use your phone before it becomes a health risk, that sort of thing. There is one thing that has been proven though and that is that all electromagnetic radiation impacts living beings.


Studies are currently underway, and have been for years, on the effects of electromagnetic radiation. Possible cancer links are being investigated and the effects on nature are being studied as well. The honey bees dying off are by many, being attributed to the overall increase of this radiation. Many peer reviewed studies and experiments are pointing towards the possibility of this radiation causing health problems worldwide. Since there is no concrete proof however, there is nothing being done.

This is what really needs to be considered by the health community and those in positions of authority in our societies worldwide. Does it not make sense, to at least look at precautionary measures now, because of the possibilities of problems down the line? There is no way people are going to stop using their devices; I do not believe that will happen at this point. So how about research and development on phone shielding of some kind. I do not know if that is even possible, but I am sure scientists would love to investigate. That is what they do, shouldn’t we let them. You can detect EMF at home with a EMF Detector.

That is part of the problem today. We have plenty of scientists who are willing and able to investigate this matter whole hog. The problem is funding for it. These days funding for science exploration is more and more coming mostly from industries and they have a very narrow view on what they want discovered. This is not how America made it to the moon. When President Kennedy told NASA we are going to the moon in 10 years, make it happen, there were no restraints on the direction the scientists could look for answers. Due to this not only did we go to the moon, we stumbled onto enough new scientific information that our manufacturing base in the country was fueled for the next 30 years. Wouldn’t it make sense to just tell scientist to “make it happen” again. They would figure something out and modern society could continue in our need for our gadgets and electricity. We would not have to worry if our cell phones were killing us.

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Raw Milk Ban – The Result of Political Left Blowback

There is risk in just about everything. As adults we should be free to evaluate these risks verses the benefits. Many of the left of politics love to use government to ban things that could cause harm. It is ironic that the same system they advocate turns against them and bans freedoms they enjoy eg. raw milk.

If you want to ban knives, guns, fast food, GMOs, vaccines, fireworks, sweeteners, Monsanto and you advocate giving power to the government, don’t be surprised when they ban raw milk, unvaccinated children, medical cannabis and others.

Stop supporting the coercion of others by advocating banning. Using political power to get things you want banned does backfire. Punish those who do wrong not everyone and use persuasion instead of coercion. Is it really that hard to understand?



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The Alpaca Farming Bubble Disaster

alpacaI don’t know how many of these bubbles I have been through but greed is always at the heart. It doesn’t seem to matter if is make millions growing organic certified food or plant lemon myrtle plantations people get sucked into the greed and easy lifestyles touted as saviors. A honest business grows or declines with the market based on supply and demand. Simple economics 101 is if supply is high and demand in low the price will be low. Most of these niche systems do initially have low supply have high demand so prices are extremely high but the markets are so small that even modest increases in supply means the price drops considerable.

To give you a idea currently alpacas are currently selling at 70-90% reduction of there asking price a few years ago.

The best way to avoid these mistakes is completing a business plan. In there should be realistic expectations of market expansion and what competitors can enter the market. Building a brand will also help weather some of the downside.

Phrases to look out for:

– solid investments

– a perfect “phased retirement opportunity”

– retirement opportunity for empty nesters, especially those seeking an escape from the corporate rat race.

– minimal or no farming experience

– free 300 page guide

– turn $35,000 to $1,000,000 in ten years

– peace of mind

– tax advantages

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Boost Crop Growth with Compost Teas

compost-teaThere are plenty of organic techniques out there and many of them are proven to make ecological and economic sense such as crop rotation, cover cropping and beneficial insects. One such technique worth mentioning is the use of compost tea which has rather remained the subject for scientific research for many decades now.  Compost tea’s contribution in bio-balancing many plant diseases has long been recognised by organic growers. The liquid derived from the compost tea is known to have bio-balancing characteristics besides stimulating plant growth. Compost tea bio-balances disease by inoculating plants with beneficial organisms. These organisms can be bacteria, fungi or yeast. They form a physical barrier against pathogens by effectively bio-balancing plant pathogens. Best of all, it doesn’t burn crops as store brought fertilisers can do so you can’t over use it. It works by restoring beneficial organisms to your soil. The bacteria, fungi or yeast present in the compost tea enhances nutrient cycle and helps plant get the most of the nutrients from soil.

Before we dig any deeper into the subject, lets discuss what tea compost is. Compost tea is a liquid derived from compost. There are many ways of preparing it, like many people prepare it by suspending compost in a barrel of water for a brief amount of time in a burlap sack. The resulting liquid is applied either as a soil or foliar fertiliser. For many people it’s not a compost tea until the extract is fermented or brewed with some type of microbial nutrient source like molasses, fish byproducts or humic acid. Compost tea is prepared ether aerated or non-aerated techniques. In aerated technique, oxygen is introduced into the compost tea by injecting air or by showering re-circulated tea over an open tank. However non-aerated teas are made by simply mixing the compost, water and other ingredients and allowing them to ferment a little without disturbance. At the end of both the methods, filtration is required before it is used as fertiliser.

There are many factors contributing to the effectiveness of compost tea for biobalancing disease. The compost used for the compost tea is either made from animal manure or from quality compost feedstock. The compost should not be more than 9 to 12 months old. At least 5 to 8 days of fermentation time should be given to the non aerated compost tea, while 24 to 48 hours of fermentation is just fine for aerated compost tea. Once compost tea is brewed (prepared), it should be applied promptly since it has got a very short shelf life. Recently a two year study at Rodale Institute and Pennsylvania State University was concluded that studied performance of aerated compost tea in stimulating crops of grapes, potatoes and pumpkin. The analysis of the compost tea showed adequate amount of beneficial organism population and safe level of human pathogens. Approximately 50% bio-balancing of powdery mildew was observed in the first year alone in grape plantation. There wasn’t any significant bio-balancing of powdery mildew observed in the Howden pumpkins in the very first year. However decrease count and size of pathogen colonies was observed from year two onwards so back into balance. It also came out in the study that compost tea offered more measurable benefits in terms of stimulating crop growth than bio-balancing disease.

Conclusion: Compost teas are a great addition if they can be aerated and a quality compost starter can be used. We don’t recommend applying to editable parts of plants due to human pathogens. We prefer to brew Microbe Brews instead as we prefer the reduced liability of producing less human pathogens. We recommend using a clean inoculum for consistency and reduced human pathogens on commercial farms.  

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5 Easy Perennial Herbs to Grow

herb-gardenPerennial herbs are wonderful additions to the garden. They’re easy to grow and cultivate, beautiful, and offer many uses- uses such as flavoring food, for making teas, making natural medicines, for cleaning and freshening, and even decorating. Perennial herbs offer beauty and function. Here are our 5 easiest perennial herbs to grow that deserve a spot in your garden or landscape.

  • Thyme: Thyme comes in two forms- growing upright, or spreading. Both versions are wonderful plants to have in the garden. Creeping thyme specifically makes a beautiful dried or fresh herb for cooking, but it also makes a wonderful air freshener. In the garden, it grows very well in hot, dry places along paths, or can even take some treading on in between stepping stones. The purple or white flowers are long blooming and are a favorite of many pollinators, specifically for wonderfully helpful honey and native bees.


  • Mint: Mint can be a bully, but in the right places it can spread happily and fill an area with useful, aromatic goodness. Use mint to take over a spot where other stuff won’t really grow well, and keep it contained by a deep, root-busting yearly trench around the perimeter you have your mint growing to keep it from spreading. Mint can be used in savory foods and sauces, in sweet foods and sauces, in drinks both cold (think about a refreshing mint julep in the middle of the summer!) or hot (a tea that soothes a sore throat in winter). Use mint to freshen air. You can mix it into natural cleaning products to add a wonderfully clean smell to your surface cleaners. Use it in homemade soap and shampoo recipes, as well as a breath freshener or in homemade toothpaste. Like thyme, the flowers are numerous, long blooming, and valued by pollinators.


  • Lavender is an old herb that has as many uses as mint, and makes a stately and beautiful statement in the garden. Beautiful greyish blue foliage mounds and purple spikes of beautiful flowers are very welcome to pollinators. Long-lived, it also grows well in dry conditions in the hot sun. Lavender is a calming, restorative herb and can be used in household product accordingly. Satchels, cleaning products for the home and body, in medicinal tonics, and cooking are all basic uses of lavender. Wonderful fresh, it also dries very well and is an essential in the best potpourri recipes.


  • Echinacea is a US native plant that has also been domesticated and changed for the garden, with big purple or white flowers, and now even additions of red and orange blooming Echinacea’s are easily found. Very hardy, long lived, tough, and an essential plant for wildlife (pollinators and birds alike!) cone flower is a standard perennial for every garden. As an herb, it’s incredibly healing. Usually made into teas or added into soaps, it possesses very powerful restorative qualities and also makes a great preventative herb.


  • Sage is a standard herb in most red meat dishes, but is also an incredibly strong healing herb. Made into a tea, it works wonderfully for cold and flu symptoms in the face and throat, and has been shown to help ease menopausal symptoms. In the garden, many types of sage are available and all are very beautiful. Another long-lived plant, its toughness will astound you. The flowers are loved by butterflies and hummingbirds, as well as bees and other pollinators.

We hope you enjoy our 5 favorite easy perennial garden herbs!