Full Spectrum Mineral Nutrition
By Jim Toler
What is full spectrum mineral nutrition? All living organisms require a minimum level of at least 64 elements to be fully healthy. Major elements like carbon, oxygen, nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, magnesium and calcium make up the bulk of living tissue. Most elements however are needed in very tiny amounts. These are the trace minerals. Some familiar examples are iron, selenium and manganese. Trace elements perform necessary enzymatic functions in the organism. For instance, copper is necessary for the production of vitamin D, cobalt makes up part of the vitamin B12 molecule and everyone knows iron is needed for the blood to carry oxygen effectively. There are many more trace elements in living tissue whose function is unknown but we must not assume they are unimportant. In his book, Minerals for the Genetic Code, Charles Walters maintains that an element as rare as yttrium is essential for proper brain function. In its absence, the body will substitute calcium, resulting in a tendency towards degenerative brain diseases like Alzheimer’s, Lou Gehrig’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and multiple sclerosis.
What is the nutritional key to getting the necessary minerals in the proper proportions into our plants and subsequently into ourselves? With people, just as with plants, many thousands of different species of bacteria are needed (in our digestive tract) to make the food we eat fully digestible. They have enzymes we don’t have that are necessary to break down complex food molecules so we can absorb them through our intestinal walls. They also produce certain vitamins and other growth substances we cannot produce. We feed them, they feed us – a perfect example of symbiosis.
In a natural system, plants also require bacteria (and other microbes) to break down organic matter around their roots. In fact, the living soil mediates nutrition to plants by providing a steady stream of essential vitamins, hormones and mineralized nutrients to be taken up by the roots. That’s why it is important to have healthy living soil. If some essential microbes are missing in the soil, certain necessary elements may not pass into the plant. Plants living in healthy soil perform better, they resist drought symptoms better, they resist pests and diseases better and they are more efficient in energy usage than weak plants. In his book, Tuning in to Nature, Dr. Phillip Callahan postulates that weak plants actually broadcast radiometric signals to attract herbivorous insects, thus removing themselves as an evolutionary influence on their genome.
Unhealthy soils that are not fully biologically active are usually brought about by mechanical disturbance of the soil (including heavy pedestrian use), use of synthetic fertilizers and pesticides (including herbicides), prolonged exposure to environmental pollutants, and/or poor cultural practices. Some symptoms of unhealthy soils are: compaction; low pH; prevalence of plant pests and diseases; and general poor performance in the landscape. To restore good health to damaged soils, it is necessary to reestablish the soil microbial populations in their proper proportions.
Compost tea is a tool that can help rebuild soil quality. It is an aqueous extract of compost, containing beneficial soil microbes, humic substances and natural soluble nutrients that when properly “brewed”, handled and applied, can help restore essential microbes to the soil and plant surfaces. Periodic application of compost tea can help refresh and revitalize the soil, thereby enabling uptake of the full spectrum of mineralized plant nutrients necessary for the health and hardiness of plants and the animals that eat them.
The Willamette Organics/NaturesGate fertility management programs utilize compost tea as a base solution to improve and maintain soil health. To learn more about the programs, visit HYPERLINK “http://www.naturesgateorganiclandcare.com” www.naturesgateorganiclandcare.com.