Seeing the Soul of the Soil Nov03


Related Posts

Share This

Seeing the Soul of the Soil

Eugenio Gras with a Chromatograph - a disc that reflects the health of the soil

Imagine for a moment that you could walk around your garden, your compost heap or even your pasture and get a direct reading that could tell you the health of your soil? Sounds implausible? Well, Mexican bio-fertiliser expert Eugenio Gras came to Australia recently to show farmers how to do their own soil tests using a little known biodynamic technique called The Chromatograph.

“The Chromatograph is a picture of how the minerals, microbe and organic matter worlds interact together.” he says. Its not about just counting microbes under a microscope that will tell you the health and wealth of your soil.

“Its not about quantities,” says Eugenio, “its about the interaction and the quality of the interaction.”

Eugenio is clear about what we need to focus on to make fertile soils. “If you can take a picture of your soils,” he says, “you are able to make a decision, does it need more compost or manure or do you need to add a particular mineral or more sulphate?”

Eugenio insists the Chromatagraph method he teaches will help farmers make that decision when looking at their soils.

“Two days later the farmer can come back and do another test and see if the Chromatograph has altered.” he says.

Now to the uninitiated the Chromatograph is just a ring of earthy flat colours with various tonal changes on them.

Chromatograph being created

They are all different almost like cross sectional tree rings, so how does one go about interpreting them?

Eugenio insists they are very easy to read.

“Its Like reading a childs face.” he says.

“Is the child laughing or crying?”he asks. “Anyone can read a human face.”

Its that easy says Eugenio who has been teaching farmers this inexpensive technique for years. Filter paper discs are coated with a weak solution of Silver Nitrate and a soil solution carefully is prepared in a dish to wick up the center of the filter paper where it expands colouring the discs accordingly.

A healthy dynamic soil infused with lots of microbes, minerals and humus will create a chromatagraph that resembles the glow of a warm sun. It seems to radiate with good health and imparts a feeling of happiness and vitality. To the experienced eye the discs reveal a rich infused pattern that occurs when the filter discs are exposed to samples of soil taken from various parts of the garden. Diluted soil in a mixture of water and sodium hydroxide runs up a central wick and the minerals in the sample are the first thing that make an appearance on the disc, followed by microbes and enzymes. When the discs are dry, they are exposed to the sun and the image is fixed permanently on the filter paper.

Each test costs roughly about a dollar.

Poor soils or even soils sprayed with weed killer will reveal a lifeless dull bluish cast to the patterns. The minerals may be there, but there will be no evidence of microbial life. The disc may reveal a heavy colour for compacted soil or be heavily striated to reveal a variety of microbial diversity. Poor soils reveal less integration between the various bands. Like a dead moon, the discs reflect a desolate dull landscape. The good news says Eugenio is that even poisoned soils can be turned around gradually using biofertiliser remedies to build nutrients, humus and microbes back into dead soils. Eventually the Chromatographs will reflect the health of the soil.

Eugenio was in Australia recently giving a series of workshop on Biofertile farms and brought here by RegenAg people who always bring out inspiring speakers like Joel Salatin to teach farmers how to improve their farm soil fertility, using new holistic and natural methods of farming.

Eugenio has taught farmers in Mexico caught with spiraling expensive commercial fertilizer fees how to get off the treadmill and make their own natural fertilizer from whatever is at hand cheaply and easily. Money talks and Eugenio says farmers are prepared to listen if you have a plan how to save them money and show them a path out of poverty.

Ecofilms filmed the three day event and with RegenAg’s permission we hope to share some of the highlights with you soon.