Article by Hannah Rouillard
Ray Austin, Soil Specialist
Soil quality influences agricultural production before anything in the Farmer’s Almanac has a chance to form in the sky. Before a drought, a flood, an early frost, or a swarm of thrips and aphids, before any of these uncontrollable influences run aground, the ground has initial say in how far yields will go. Soil health is a result of careful balance of moisture, pH, texture, aeration, nutrients, temperature, and conscientious maintenance. The consequences of slacking on soil are evident in lackluster produce that directly affects profits of agricultural investments. Some soil conditions are inherited from generations of neglect and abuse, but the good news is the damage is only set in dirt, not stone.
BioSafe Systems’ soil specialist, Ray Austin, was grandfathered into agribusiness, “I have been privileged to wear the boots of a farmer…and understand what challenges and obstacles they face, and it is a constantly changing dynamic.” He noticed in the 90s and 2000s, “Many chemistries started to be banned and products removed from the market because of their impacts on the environment…growers had to adapt and change their mindset.” Likewise, Ray has been learning and preparing to grow with the shift from conventional to more sustainable strategies. BioSafe Systems brought him to the team for just this reason.
Instead of treating the soil with a laissez-faire attitude or overworking the soil, Ray advocates for an educated approach when launching a sustainable soils program. BioSafe Systems’ combines pest management knowledge and sustainability to curate agricultural methodology that will be profitable for future generations of growers and consumers. Ray says, “The opportunity for a grower to suppress soilborne pathogens and nematodes and come back within a day and introduce beneficial spores is a change in mindset.” BioSafe Systems supports growers with sustainable practices in soil management.
The diverse variables that contribute to soil profiles differ by region, crop, air quality, water, and cultivation techniques. As the climate and industry changes, these conditions will continuously be in flux, but the recipe for rich soil requires balance in any environment. Step one for conventional and organic farmers alike, TerraStart® HC, a broad-spectrum soil fungicide/bactericide used as a pre-plant preparation or between double cropping to control subterranean plant pathogens, pests, and nematodes in the field. These insects and nematodes can wreck a yield, then hunker down for the winter and revive in time to attack the new season. Applying this during the pre-plant stage or while planting via drip irrigation systems targets and oxidizes detrimental pests on contact like Fusarium, Phytophthora, Pythium, Rhizoctonia, and Verticillium. Plus, the by-products of the chemical reaction release dissolved oxygen into the soil, which stimulates plant growth, root development, and nutrient uptake. TerraStart HC penetrates crop soil and knocks out pathogens and leaving behind helpful oxygen.
The second phase of our sustainable soil program uses TerraGrow®*; BioSafe Systems’ beneficial soil inoculant and plant health promoter. After pathogens have been wiped out, some things need to be reintroduced to the soil. This second step is akin to following antibiotics with a vitamin regiment—get healthy and stay healthy. TerraGrow is easily blended into the soil, composed of five different strains of bacillus with beneficial attributes like minerals, nitrates, enzymes, ammonia, and phosphorous. TerraGrow increases plant growth, root strength, and nutrient absorption, which boosts the vigor and yield of crops.
Competitor on left, TerraGrow on right
Ray affirms the tenacity and resilience of Earth’s tough and seasoned exterior layer, “The soil which covers the Earth, in my view, is like the skin on a human. It will heal itself.” Growers can preemptively mitigate injurious pest infestations and prepare the soil for long prosperous seasons. BioSafe Systems’ soil programs are made to give farmers and their crops the best shot from the very start. The pair TerraStart HC and TerraGrow foster first-rate soil conditions without pathogens and are chock full of beneficial elements, which work together to propagate confidence and healthy yield.