This photograph clearly shows the importance of building soil structure to allow access to moisture and air. On the left is a typical ‘brick’ of compacted soil compared to a clod on the right showing roots moving at depth through aerated and structured soil. The latter is the type of result created by the DBS and clearly demonstrates the ‘pot plant’ analysis of how the DBS establishes the right environment for plant root growth.

This photograph clearly shows the importance of building soil structure to allow access to moisture and air. On the left is a typical ‘brick’ of compacted soil compared to a clod on the right showing roots moving at depth through aerated and structured soil. The latter is the type of result created by the DBS and clearly demonstrates the ‘pot plant’ analysis of how the DBS establishes the right environment for plant root growth.

Soil microbiology - in the presence of moisture and air - is the key to the BioFurrow™. That’s the opinion of former CSIRO scientist and microbiologist, Dr Margaret Roper. Dr Roper makes the point that there are between one and two tonnes a hectare of microbes in the top soil with around 70 per cent in the top 10 centimetres, equating to more than 10 billion microbes in a kilogram of soil with literally kilometres of fungal hyphae. Fungal hyphae spread like a network to capture nutrients and in a highly complex symbiotic relationship, bacteria and fungi provide nutrients to plant roots while accessing food in the form of exudates from the roots. A classic visual of this process is the ‘dreadlock’ roots you find on healthy plants, with soil and microbes adhering to roots. But conventional practices such as deep tillage, mouldboarding and spading, while deemed necessary for soil amelioration, can have a detrimental effect on drying out soils and thereby destroying microbial populations which thrive in moist conditions.

 

According to Dr Roper, what science is now showing, through trial research, is a better way to grow crops – by utilizing microbial communities and root systems in the soil. And that is the pith of explaining why the BioFurrow™ - we call the furrow for life – works to enhance this microbial activity for the benefit of plant roots and to aid in building organic carbon levels. The concept of the BioFurrow™ is not new and is often referred to as near-row sowing, with implement steering guidance. The difference with the BioFurrow™ is that the same row is used to seed crops every year rather than ‘nudging’ across the paddock to establish the next season’s rows. Interestingly Dr Roper’s research started 25 years ago and she is confident the hypothesis of the BioFurrow™ is now at a stage to trial over a range of moisture and soil conditions.

 

Dr Roper said the DBS sowing system, particularly, provided significant benefits for a developing seedling. “Firstly, the provision of liquid nutrients directly below the seed provides a source of water vapour for seed germination,” Dr Roper said. “The ‘precision seed bed’, created by the DBS closing tool to provide a firm and aerated base for the seed, contains fine capillaries through which water vapour (from the liquid nutrients) can rise to the seed and promote germination. “Scientific research also has presented evidence that water vapour is the primary source of water for seed germination in unsaturated soils. “This surprising result stems from the fact that although hydraulic conductivity decreases by several orders of magnitude as soil water content decreases, relative humidity within the soil remains near 100 per cent, as long as the soil water content is above wilting point.” Dr Roper also said the provision of liquid nutrients directly below the seed provided an immediate source of nutrients in available forms in close proximity to newly emerged roots. “And the soft-closing press wheel of the DBS covers the seed, creating a firm but not compacted indented surface which collects water and enables air exchange around the germinating seed,” Dr Roper said.

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Publish Date: 
Wednesday, February 17, 2021