Sustainable World Radio Interview – Life Within the Soil- Part 1 of a 2 Part Interview with Doug Weatherbee

A few weeks ago I had a great chat with Jill Cloutier of Sustainable World Radio about soil and microbes. Jill has just posted Part 1 of our discussion on her Sustainable World Radio podcast site. Jill will post Part 2 in the near future. I had a great time talking with Jill and I hope you enjoy our discussion.

Go here to listen to the podcast.

Video on the Quivira November 2010 conference, A Carbon Ranch

This video is a short piece on the Quivira November 2010 conference, A Carbon Ranch: Using Food and Stewardship to Build Soil and Fight Climate Change – an event described by attendees as “encouraging,” “life changing,” and “inspiring.”

Microbiological Restoration of Palms – Case Study Interview

Laura Allen and Carl Vidana of Birdwing Gardens Landscaping in Delray, Florida had a number of very expensive Medjool Palms failing in 2010. These Medjool Palms are between 25-35 feet tall living inside of large concrete planters at a commercial mall in Miami , Florida.  For those not familiar with 25-35 foot tall Medjool Palms, losing one Palm would cost $25,000 USD to replace. Wow. Then Laura and Carl’s client would also have the extra $ costs of cranes and planting work.  Florida Palm experts were brought in to give the Palms conventional treatments but the Palms continued their downward slide.  Then in mid 2010, Laura approached me for help. I worked with her and Carl to design a microbiological restoration program that is having excellent results. I sat down in November 2010 to talk with Laura and Carl while they were in Mexico.

SoilDoctor Microbiological Restoration of Palm – Birdwing Gardens, Delray Beach, Florida from Doug Weatherbee – Soil Doctor on Vimeo.

Quivira Coalition 2010 Conference, New Mexico – The Carbon Ranch – Using Food and Stewardship to Build Soil and Fight Climate Change

THE MICROBE REVERSAL . . . November 17- December 1, 2010

This is the first thing that has given me hope.”
Attendee speaking to 400 plus people at The Carbon Ranch conference

I am just back from presenting in New Mexico at the 2010 Quivira Coalition’s annual conference, this year entitled:  “The Carbon Ranch – Using Food and Stewardship to Build Soil and Fight Climate Change.” Craig Sponholtz, of, and I presented a 3+ hour symposium entitled “Bringing Life Back to Your Land: Moisture, Microbes and Climate Change.”  Each time I sit in a room with Craig I am more in awe of how he works with water.  I am very grateful to be collaborating with him and can’t wait to get back to New Mexico to do more work together.

First, I want to say that this was the most inspiring conference I have ever attended.  Quivira and Courtney White’s choices for speakers as well as the dozens and dozens of extraordinary attendees I spoke with out of the several hundred conference goers, have filled me with hope.   In one moment I’d be talking with a working rancher from New Mexico, then in another listening to John Wick and Jeff Creque of the Marin Carbon Project, California, then the next discussing with a US Forestry person soil microbiological strategies to deal with invasive weeds and mountains full of standing dead pines from pine beetle infestations, then I’d have an inspiring conversation with one of the young 20 something farmers associated with Everyone was profoundly engaged.  We might just turn this thing around with the activities and energies of all attending and speaking at the conference.  If you get an opportunity to attend the conference next year or beyond, do it.  This might be THE conference to go to in the United States. has a post with links to the presenters’ slides posted on a new Quivira Wiki.  You can find the post at:

Nov 10, 2010 – Bringing Life Back to Your Land: moisture, microbes, and climate change – Craig Sponholtz and Doug Weatherbee

The Quivira Coalition’s 9th Annual Conference

November 10-12th, 2010, in Albuquerque, New Mexico

The Carbon Ranch: Using Food and Stewardship to Build Soil and Fight Climate Change

Wednesday, November 10
“Bringing Life Back to Your Land: moisture, microbes, and climate change”

Craig Sponholtz and Doug Weatherbee

In recent years there have been many parallel developments in the fields of watershed restoration and soil microbiology. It is apparent that there are numerous opportunities for these fields to intersect and integrate in ways that have yet to be discovered. This combination promises to dramatically increase the productivity of degraded rangelands through the use large-scale hydration of the landscape and targeted improvements to soil microbiology. We will introduce ways that virtually any landowner can integrate land management practices such as erosion control, tree thinning and re-vegetation with small scale composting and compost tea production. Our discussion will include practices that will lead to improvements in soil moisture, microbiology, productivity, sequestration of Carbon and greenhouse gas emission reductions. Our goal is generate further interest and application by landowners.

Check out the Conference at: The Carbon Ranch

The Soil Foodweb takes root In Jalisco, Mexico – Mexico Workshop Complete

The Jalisco, Mexico workshop is now complete.  There was a good turn out of over 30 growers and ranchers producing corn, greenhouse horticulture, agave for tequila, cattle and other ruminant grazers.

We spent three days going over the functioning of soil microbiology in relation to agriculture and how to make biologically beneficial inoculate bacterial or fungal dominated composts.

The classroom and compost making practicum portions of the workshop was held in Arandas at the Instituto Tecnológico Superior de Arandas.  We also made two site visits to a couple of clients who are transitioning to a microbiological approach in their tomato greenhouses.

Soil Foodweb and Compost Workshop – Mexico – English and Spanish

I’ve partnered with a Latin American organic farming consultants group to teach a Soil Foodweb and Compost making workshop in Jalisco, Mexico August 5-7. Its taking place at the Instituto Tecnológico Superior de Arandas, Arandas, Jalisco, México.  The course will be in English and Raúl Medina of COAS will be translating into Spanish.  Hope to see you there. Some of the topics I’ll be covering are:

  • Soil Food Web Trophic Patterns
  • Plant Diseases and Pathogens: Its a Numbers Game
  • Ecosystem Succession Pattern: Why Its Important for our Plants
  • Reversing Ecosystem Success Pattern: Disturbances from a Microbe’s Point of View
  • Soil Compaction: The Problem of No Oxygen
  • The Mutualist: Mycorrhizal and Rhizobium
  • The Carbon Cycle: “Carbon Farming” Needs to Evolve to “Greenhouse Gas Mitigation and Sequestration”
  • Biological Driven Nutrient Availability and Retention in the Soil
  • Soil Chemistry Testing: What It Doesn’t Tell Us
  • The Soil Foodweb Lab Report: What It Tells Us
  • 2009 Jalpa Corn: A Detailed Case Study
  • Making Custom Inoculate Composts

For hotel information in Arandas:

MEXICO – Red Trófica del Suelo (Soil Foodweb)

MEXICO – Red Trófica del Suelo (Soil Foodweb)

Desde jueves, agosto 05 2010 –  9:00am
Hasta sábado, agosto 07 2010 – 5:00pm
Cada día


El suelo contiene todos los nutrientes que las plantas necesitan y es solo por la actividad humana que está bloqueado el flujo de estos nutrientes hacia los cultivos que establecemos. Cuando dejamos de “estorbar” la vida en el suelo retoma y provee todo lo que las plantas requieren.

Hoy podemos elegir iniciar a orientarnos y actuar acorde con este conocimiento o continuar creyendo a aquellos que nos dicen que el suelo CARECE de los minerales que nuestros cultivos demandan mientras crean las industrias que nos ofertan los productos externos que resolverán las carencias de las que nos hablan bajo un costo.

La Red Trofica del Suelo es el conocimiento profundo y amplio del  proceso de alimentación de los seres vivos el cual se extiende e incluye a los 3 dominios o 6 reinos de la naturaleza (Woese), a diferencia del esquema industrial cuyo manejo aísla la nutrición vegetal y animal del resto de los organismos vivos y elementos de la naturaleza provocando la dependencia a los productos e insumos industriales para su sobrevivencia.

En la comprensión del esquema de la Red Trófica del Suelo el productor descubre que la nutrición de cualquiera de los organismos de los distintos reinos está intrínsecamente relacionada al resto de los seres vivos, y sólo cuando dejamos de obstruir el flujo energético-nutricional de unos a otros la nutrición natural comienza a suceder

El conocimiento de la vida en el suelo nos permite coadyuvar en su equilibrio, y con ello activar la circulación de nutrientes desde los minerales a las plantas, hoy bloqueados. La participación del agricultor es cada vez más simple. El taller RTS nos enseña técnicas para equilibrar e intensificar la red de actividad de los distintos microorganismos integrantes del suelo. Ellos hacen el resto. Construyen el suelo, nutren los vegetales, controlan malezas, enfermedades y plagas.

El resultado es una simplificación extraordinaria de la nutrición de cultivos y animales, la reducción sustancial del uso de insumos externos, el aumento del margen de utilidad de los productores y nuestra contribución indirecta, en el mediano plazo, al fortalecimiento de la economía natural y las redes sociales locales.El Taller teórico-práctico sobre Red Trófica del Suelos (Soil Foodweb) se realizará en el Instituo Tecnológico Superior de Arandas. Se tiene programado  efectuar visitas de campo a 2 productores locales que manejan sus cultivos bajo el esquema de la Red Trófica del Suelo.

La transmisión teórica y práctica del conocimiento de la Red Trófica del Suelo (Soil Foodweb) iniciará  con este taller que será el primero de dos eventos. Este taller introductorio se llevara a cabo durante los días jueves 5 ,viernes 6  y sábado 7 de agosto, y el segundo taller complementario será en el mes de  octubre 2010 (requisito haber participado en el primero).

Ambos talleres serán impartido por Doug Weatherbee M.A. consultor certificado en Soil foodweb por sus estudios con la Dra. Elaine Ingham y Matt Slaugther, ambos del Soil Foodweb en Oregón, USA

Localización: Instituto Tecnológico Superior de Arandas, Arandas, Jalisco, México

Hospedaje en Arandas

Some key soil biology facts

Original re-posted from the April 2010 Soil Foodweb Australia Newsletter:

Leonardo Da Vinci: “We know more about the movement of celestial bodies than about the soil underfoot” – not a lot has changed in the last 500 years.

It never hurts to be reminded of the key facts about the living soil beneath our feet. The US Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) has a succinct page available on the Internet with some good information.

For instance, did you know that:

  • in most ecosystems, there is more life and more diversity below ground than above
  • arid systems have few earthworms, but have ants, termites and other invertebrates that perform similar functions
  • grasslands have near equal bacterial and fungal biomass, or may be dominated by bacteria. Coniferous forests may have 100 to 1,000 times more fungal biomass than bacterial biomass
  • soil microorganisms drive carbon and nitrogen cycling
  • mature trees can have as many as 5 million active root tips
  • a single spade of rich garden soil contains more species than can be found above ground in the whole Amazon rainforest
  • the plants growing in a one hectare wheat field can have more than 30,000 kms of roots – more than enough to go around the Equator
  • soil can act as either a source or a sink of greenhouse gasses – 30% of the carbon dioxide, 70% of the methane and 90% of the nitrous oxide released to the atmosphere each year pass through the soil
  • in agricultural soils, more than 1,000 arthropod legs support your every step
  • one cup of soil may hold as many bacteria as there are people on the earth
  • five thousand soil species have been described
  • twenty thousand nematode species have been identified, but it is thought that 500,000 species may exist
  • earthworms move soil from the lower strata to the surface and move organic matter from the surface to lower layers. Where earthworms are active, they can turn over the top 150mm of soil every 10 to 20 years