Electrical conductivity comes from biology in healthy soil

The agronomy of the future will be based on measuring and managing the biophysics of soil and organisms rather than focusing on chemistry and genetics. Important parameters to manage will include soil electrical conductivity, paramagnetism, redox, and pH, from a perspective of managing electron and proton flow through the ecosystem.

To grow crops that are high yielding and healthy, soils need a minimum electrical conductivity of 200 uS at germination, gradually increasing to 600-800 uS during the fruit fill period. Plants don’t grow from nutrients. They grow from the energy that is provided by those nutrients. Mainstream agriculture provides the electrical conductivity in soils by adding ionic ‘salt’ fertilizers that have a high EC, and thus increase soil EC. Of course, these ionic salt fertilizers oxidize the microbial population, age clay, and damage soil aggregates.

In biological soils, the electrical conductivity should not come from ionic nutrients held in the water solution, but from microbial cells. This is much more advantageous to the crop, because EC levels are sustained through the entire growing season, and do not drop off as soon as soil water becomes limited. Soil biology can provide an abundance of electron flow through the soil, and produce much higher yielding and higher quality crops than we consider ‘normal’ today.

Here is an excerpt from the podcast interview with Tom Dykstra where he alludes to this function of soil biology.

Tom Dykstra:

Now, when these microbes are gone, they are no longer able to hold on to the energy that is in their bodies. And so you have now given up a massive energy source. This is where the electromagnetics comes in: if you do not have those microbes, there is no energy in the soil. Each microbe is about half a volt of sequestered energy. This doesn’t mean that there is this massive amount of energy—that if you stepped on some ground with millions of microbes, it would blow your foot off or catapult you into the air fifteen feet. What this means is that this is clean, stored energy that’s found in the membranes. It’s found in the chloroplast, in the endoplasmic reticulum. 

Everything that is inside the cell has a nice, clean storage form of this energy, and that energy is then made available to the plant, either directly or indirectly. Sometimes the plant can use the nutrients if the microbe dies. Microbes are dying all the time, and some of their nutrients can be taken up by the plant, because everything is bioavailable when a microbe dies. Or you can have a more indirect result—when the microbe is actually releasing minerals to the plants. These microbes can break down minerals far more efficiently than plants. Without these microbes, the plant is no longer able to take in minerals. And these minerals are the constituents—the cofactors—that are used to keep photosynthesis going. Without these minerals, photosynthesis suffers, and we see lower Brix.