While the idea of carbon sequestration and carbon credits lay fresh in our mind, in this blog, I will introduce the Soil Food Web. Coined by soil biologist Elaine Ingham, the Soil Food Web works in “harmony with plants to produce a number of benefits,” including increased yields, protection from pests and diseases, weed suppression, reduced irrigation requirements, and carbon sequestration. The Soil Food Web has also been proven to increase crop yields and to grow crops with a more-dense level of nutrition. This translates directly to hemp, as the Soil Food Web also increases terpene production on cannabis plants, and also produces terpenes with advanced structures and benefits for the consumer.
(Ingham, Soil Food Web)
So, what is it? “The Soil Food Web is a complex set of relationships between fungi, bacteria, protozoa, nematodes and other life forms in healthy soil. Collaboratively a healthy ecosystem of soil life creates an environment rich in plant available nutrients and water as well as an appropriate soil pH.”
(3C, Comprehensive Cannabis Consulting)
A balanced soil ecosystem gives plants the conditions they need to grow and thrive. Because the Soil Food Web acts as both a natural fertilizer and a natural pesticide, as growers, we no longer need chemical pesticides to reach a maximum yield. Just as it has been proven that food retains substantially higher levels of nutrition when grown organically; in hemp plants, terpenes retain a higher level of effectiveness, and also a larger flavor profile, when produced organically.
In this way, the consumer receives the healthiest and most natural experience possible. The land is used in the healthiest way possible. The many eco-systems surrounding us have a harmonious relationship, in which each thing is a catalyst for another thing. “In turn, soil organisms support plant health as they decompose organic matter, cycle nutrients, enhance soil structure, and control the populations of soil organisms including crop pests (Natural Resources Conservation Center, Soil Food Web).” Through each process of the web, benefits to both crop production and the Earth as a whole come to fruition time and time again. For example, by allowing organic matter to grow and thrive in creating fertilizer, we are also supporting the growth of necessary fungi and bacteria to help restore soil actively. Nematodes and arthropods help turn soil and retain moisture, and their presence’ within a soil mixture are indicators of the overall health of the ecosystem we are creating in our soil through composting. Our desired end result is larger quantities of production with consistent overall plant health. With that comes the benefit of our crops acting as tools of carbon sequestration. It’s as natural a process there is, as plants storing carbon beneath their roots as a necessary way of survival. So, thus far, we can see the benefits of the Soil Food Web as a way of creating and maintaining overall soil health, allowing plants to thrive, which then directly gives back to the Earth in the form of carbon sequestration; an especially HOT topic in our shared warming crisis.
In a conversation with Elaine Ignham, world renowned hashishin Frenchy Cannoli states, “nobody thinks of my home and the life web of the soil when everything is coming from (corporations).” Frenchy and Dr. Ingham are talking about how, for so many years, the farmer has been simply reduced to the worker, laboring away, putting different fertilizers from the fertilizer companies on their land as they are told, monocropping, and generally prioritizing money, when really, the farmer has always been a part of the culture of the community. Science now can tell us what our land can be optimally used for by extracting and testing samples of different areas of land. We can quickly see what crops have had success or failure over years of trial and error, just through soil samples. The farmer is in the know once again, and in control of their production. We learn what naturally best fits to produce in the climate we are in. “Nature really selects more toward symbiosis,” says Dr. Ingham, “ working together socially with plants in the soil. They should really have mycorrhizal fungi that they are sharing, and therefore every plant in this whole thousand acres should be connected equally as healthy, because they are connected below ground. They are really one plant (Future Cannabis Project, Ingham).”
~example of mycorrhizal fungi~
“The plant is the farmer. The plant is putting out the exudates to grow this system to protect itself both above ground and below ground. The plant is in control of this.”
But of course, as growers, we still have agency over our production. We still make the choice to build compost, to feed compost tea to our plants, to work the land in the least-stressful way possible, and to contribute to a healthier environment as a whole through growing practices that create low-to-no waste. It is our priority as a company to provide you with the highest quality, boutique quality CBD hemp products. All of our hemp is grown organically and soil that is truly fully organic. Botana has put a great deal of resources into studying our own land and soil composition, so as to amend our growing soil in the most natural, effective way possible.
It would be difficult to write about the Soil Food Web without writing about Biodyanmics, another popular practice that dates back to 1924, an influence for sure on Dr. Ingham’s practice. “Biodynamics is a holistic, ecological, and ethical approach to farming, gardening, food, and nutrition. Biodynamics is rooted in the work of philosopher and scientist Dr. Rudolf Steiner, whose 1924 lectures to farmers opened a new way to integrate scientific understanding with a recognition of spirit in nature (What is Biodynamics, Biodynamic Association).” Biodynamic farming takes a mix of the extreme practical and highly spiritual and has been proven by many to show major results in crop production. Biodynamics in CBD hemp has become an exceptionally popular method of producing CBD, with farmers claiming the holistic benefits of their crop to be higher, the connection to the plant to be stronger, and many have shown their yield to be higher through the use of biodynamic preps and practices.
“Organic and biodynamic are very similar; both are grown without chemicals and GMOs. ... The main difference between organic and biodynamic is that biodynamic farming uses different principles that add vitality to the plant, soil and/or livestock, whereas traditional farming typically deteriorates the soil (Needham, John. Mountain Creek Whole Foods).” In Biodynamics, a calendar advises when we should take actions based upon the zodiac, the different principles aforementioned. “Many accept and abide by the Farmers Almanac as it tracks the lunar cycle throughout the year, but Biodynamic farmers and gardeners go a step further and look at all of the influences in the sky: constellations, planets, moons, eclipses, comets and more (Demeter, USA. Notes from the Marketplace).”
Both biodynamics and the soil food web have much to do with composting and soil science. Biodynamics can be thought of as a spiritual component to farming, complete with texts and yearly rituals. The Biodynamic calendar tells when to make different actions in our garden; what to plant, what to prep, how to prep, etc. It makes sense that in trying to produce in the most ecologically sound way possible, a further connection to the land is necessary in bringing a more fruitful harvest. We do strongly believe in the principals put forth by Dr. Elaine Ingham and in Dr. Rudolph Steriner’s biodynamics. When you purchase products from Botana, you can be sure that you are purchasing organic biodynamically grown hemp of the highest quality. Our mission is in healing people and restoring the land we grow upon. “Botana's sustainable methods enhance the biochemical equilibrium within the hemp plants which maximizes the beneficial effects of our organic Hemp oil.”
“Comprehensive Cannabis Consulting.” 3C, www.3ccannabis.com/2017/09/the-soil-food-web-and-optimum-plant-health/.
Demeter USA. “Demeter U.S.A.” Notes from the Marketplace - Demeter USA, www.demeter-usa.org/learn-more/notes-from-the-market/using-the-biodyamic-calendar.asp.
Ingham, Elaine. “Home.” Soil Food Web, 2020, www.soilfoodweb.com/.
“Natural Resources Conservation Service.” Soil Food Web | NRCS Soils, www.nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal/nrcs/detailfull/soils/health/biology/?cid=nrcs142p2_053868.
Needham, John. Mountain Creek Wholefoods, mountaincreekwholefoods.com.au/organic-vs-biodynamic/.
Project, Future Cannabis, director. Elaine Ingham- Soil Food Web. YouTube, YouTube, 29 Mar. 2019, www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xe1xIjt2gg0.
“What Is Biodynamics?” What Is Biodynamics? | Biodynamic Association, www.biodynamics.com/what-is-biodynamics.