What about NPK?
It is common knowledge today that all plants need nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium for growth and development. What has become known in recent decades as “conventional” fertilizer attempts to provide these three macronutrients to plants in varying proportions. However, the delivery system for these nutrients, most often salts or petroleum based mediums, are detrimental to the microbiological life in a soil environment that would otherwise benefit the plant and its nutritional needs. By optimizing the life of the soil and providing only nutrient sources that are not counterproductive, plants of all types can gain the nutrients they need for growth much more efficiently.
Roughly ninety-five percent of the content of most plants is carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen, which is derived directly from the air and water. In addition to nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium, many other nutrients are necessary for proper plant development. These other nutrients are often referred to as micronutrients as they are needed in lesser amounts, though they are no less necessary than the macronutrients. Often, the utilization of the macronutrients by a plant is inhibited by the lack of a secondary micronutrient, thus leading to erroneous diagnosis of the plant’s nutritional deficiency.
Nitrogen is extremely volatile when in the compound form needed by plant roots, and since any nitrogen in this form not received by the roots quickly evaporates, a slow, constant supply is needed. This is accomplished in healthy soil by nitrogen-fixing bacteria which pull the nitrogen from the air, metabolize it through stages of compounds until it is available directly to the root. Thus, in a healthy soil environment with optimal pH and organic content supporting a vibrant and diverse microbial life system, very little if any nitrogen needs to be introduced as a soil amendment.
Phosphorus and potassium are likewise needed in much smaller quantities than commonly assumed, and are provided by the organic content of a soil. In a closed system, such as an old growth forest or a turf where the clippings are returned to the soil, these nutrients are constantly being metabolized by soil organisms and renewed in availability to the root system. Often, poor plant performance is attributed to a lack of one of these nutrients, when in reality much is available to the plant. Either they are locked into the soil in an insoluble form, or the plant lacks the ability to make use of the nutrient. For example, only very little phosphorus is needed for flowering, and it is certain critical hormones, such as cytokines and auxins, that allow the plant to use the phosphorus.
Many other microbiological components of a healthy soil environment provide other critical support for plants and their root systems. Ectomycorrhiza scrub roots of the food source that would otherwise be available for other unwanted fungi and nematodes, while endomycorrhiza hook inside root membranes and create long chains or networks, pulling in nutrients and moisture from great distances and effectively enlarging a plant’s root system. These in turn are supported by other microbiological life, each type of bacteria a useful and integral part of the soil environment.
By providing all of these components in balanced, living, and sustained products, Black Castings™ and VermaPlex® are valuable tools for efficiently and cost effectively rebuilding and maintaining optimal soil health for the best support and provision of nutrients for plant growth.