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Soil fertility is the ultimate agronomy

Following nature’s evolutionary lead

“They’re making more people every day but they ain’t making no more dirt.” —Will Rogers

The predominant conventional and chemical mode is steadily destroying and degrading soils all around the world. We need a revamped agronomic system that can restore biodiversity, halt soil carbon loss, sequester carbon and ban the use of synthetic pesticides and fertilizers. But bold new approaches are almost never named, much less vigorously advocated.

Organic agriculture has a misplaced emphasis on avoidance of synthetic chemicals and pollutants which has obscured soil and fertility building objectives. It does not go far enough and cannot lead to true agricultural sustainability. Regenerative agriculture suffers from some of the same failings.

Nutri-culture is a revolutionary and ultimate agronomic system based on ecological understanding applying the best features of several methods focused on nutrition at all levels from the soil to human health.

Nutri-culture is more than organic

Nutri-Culture is a method of growing superior plants and crops that draws from principles and practices of Ecological Agriculture. It is also an extension of my own original concept and term of Mineral-Augmented Organics, with amplifying aspects making it more comprehensive and holistic and yielding greater results through their synergy.

Nutri-culture eschews the use of synthetic inputs and places major emphasis on the neglected role of nutrient minerals in treating soil for superior plant growth. It does not count on technological fixes to get us to more nutritious food and better health. It is not limited to making adjustments in soil chemistry or the customary organicultural techniques of composting, manuring, cover cropping, crop rotation and natural pest control methods. Nutri-Culture adds professional soil testing, mineralizing, biochar incorporation, microbe or pro-biotic inoculation and vermiculture—advancements not commonly used by farmers and gardeners, but which offer astounding qualitative benefits. This is all woven into a logical, cohesive and holistic agronomic system that can be applied all around the world and does minimal environmental harm. Indeed, it is a realistic basis for extensive soil restoration and planetary healing.

Soil balancing based on nature’s example

We can’t beat the intelligence of nature, so we are well-advised to join Her. Nutri-culture works beautifully and simply because it is patterned after the methods and integrated processes worked out over millions of years by evolving nature. It has a surprising universality for application to food growing all around the world, and if instituted on a wide scale, could solve many of the world’s seemingly intractable problems. I will go so far as to declare Nutri-Culture a panacea. I see it as the one practical, compatible and effective way to get us to true sustainability and restored health throughout the biotic realm.

A persistent theme is found in the writings of numerous prominent ecological agronomists: balance. Nutri-Culture is nearly synonymous with soil nutrient balancing, including the full array of nutrient minerals in sufficient amounts in correct ratios. It is noteworthy that the oceans of the world have long been in near perfect nutrient balance; consequently, disease among marine mammals and ocean fishes is a rarity.

Topsoil restoration is essential and achievable

Around 10% of the Earth’s land area is farmland and 30% is in pasture or meadows and there is very little room for either to expand because feasibly remaining lands are so marginal their production would yield less than the cost to farm them by usual methods.

Erosion is a far more serious problem than people generally realize. Sir Albert Howard said that erosion is a sign of a sick soil and that it invariably proceeds from infertility. It logically follows that if we treat our agricultural soils by incorporating humus (organic matter) and minerals in the correct fashion, erosion can’t get started. Many thousands of acres of eroded land await creative restoration programs. It can be done. A great example of generating employment and resources for daily living through reforestation is described in the 2004 book titled The Green Belt Movement, by Wangari Maathai. Instead of converting every feasible acre to agricultural production, thereby causing further massive loss of wildlife habitat, species extinction and irreversible loss of biodiversity, it is encumbent on us to first recover former agricultural lands and create new topsoil.

…the greatest potential for sequestering carbon is in the soil…

Nutri-Culture could reverse global warming

Humanity faces many crises related to our present agricultural system, among them, hunger, greenhouse gas emissions, improper and excessive use of fertilizers and toxins and the resultant pollution from their use, water depletion and waste, non-nutritious and wasted food, drought-vulnerable crops, and loss of wildlife habitat and biodiversity. Nutri-culture addresses all of them.

Current agricultural practices are recognized as the greatest contributor to rising greenhouse gases, mostly due to the use of synthetic fertilizers. By changing its practices, agriculture also has the greatest prospect for sequestering carbon and thereby reversing global warming. Smarter, more careful pasture management is a major factor in accomplishing this. Biochar and pro-biotic inoculants and rock powder minerals fed to livestock can get these restorative materials spread on pastureland in their manure droppings, while at the same time upgrading their health and resistance to diseases. Overgrazed and depleted pastures can be revived with correct management.

Despite the fact that the greatest potential for sequestering carbon is in the soil, nearly all the attention is on reducing fossil fuel emissions, a much less effective, contentious and controversial solution. Incorporation of biochar into agricultural soils is far more effective, longer lasting, less controversial and has the huge bonus of improving our soils, and retaining moisture and nutrients for centuries to come.

Conventional nitrogen fertilizers cause pollution and impoverish soils while generating nutritionally inferior food at increasingly higher cost. Toxins and fertilizers also kill the natural plant/microbe symbiosis. Mycorrhizal fungi supplied in manure and compost are able to grow out from plant root associations to scavenge scarce phosphorus and other minerals and deliver them back to the plant in exchange for carbohydrates supplied by the plant. These natural mechanisms can be fostered so as to supply ample nitrogen and other fertilizer with no danger of pollution. Along with plant, animal and marine waste products, various natural rock powder fertilizers and concentrated liquid sea mineral extracts are quite feasible means of supplying needed full-spectrum nutrient minerals for deficient and depleted soils everywhere. These crops also are more resistant to insect and disease attacks, keep longer and obviate the need for genetically modified crops and the use of pesticides that poison our soil and water.

There is a universal code governing how the world, nature and agriculture are designed to operate. If we crack the code we could solve food supply shortfalls, restore general health, and alleviate many of the world’s problems and put civilization on the right sustainability track for the long haul. That code, I submit, is balanced soil nutrition.

Excerpted by Esther Kronenberg from “Nutri-Culture: What it is and What It Can Do” by Gary Kline. Gary is a former Fish and Wildlife biologist who operated Black Lake Organic garden store for 34 years. His vision is expressed in 10 precepts at

One Comment

  1. Ieneke van Houten April 8, 2022

    Thank you. I believe nothing is as important as this. Our civilisation, or what passes for it, suffers from a serious case of Nature deficiency. We need to go back to more people on the land and less machinery.

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