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Showing posts from September 2, 2008

LEARNING ORGANICS "DIRTY" SECRETS

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Martin Entz, pictured above, is a professor at the University of Manitoba's Department of Plant Science. In 1992 Martin Entz started growing crops in an un-Western way to prove to himself that it couldn’t be done. But after nearly 17 years of comparing organic and conventional agricultural practices at research farms around Winnipeg the plant scientist delightfully notes his assumptions were wrong. The Glenlea long-term organic/conventional crop rotation study is Canada’s oldest and it’s providing valuable insights into natural farming systems. A major finding pertains to soil health, specifically, the microorganisms living in it. (To re-cap from a first-year Biology course, over 95 per cent of vascular plants have fungi in their roots and this association benefits the plants in numerous ways.) In Year 13, graduate student Cathy Welsh, working with Entz and soil sciences’ Mario Tenuta, compared the plots’ fungal spore density and diversity – a hallmark of soil health, and ind