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Blood Brothers Nutrition Study 2008'
Blood Brothers Nutrition Study 2008'
Pest Management Systems
Sep 15, 2008 --
Report Submitted by: Dave Bergin M.S. ENTO.
Pest Management Systems & Heritage Foods/Seeds
For the Oak Hill Foundation & The Garden Institute of Alberta Canada
Submitted on September 15th 2008
Here is a short summary of the Nutrition Project to date...
"The purpose of this project is to determine how to maximize the nutritional content of heritage crops by understanding the soil microbiology, adding the missing components and letting the soil feed the plant optimimally and naturally. If a plant can be healthier and happier it will thrive, not just survive."
Five farms began the Nutrition Project with pre-plant soil samples, evaluating their microbial communities ( total/ active bacteria and fungi : TAFB ), as well as samples focusing on soil elemental profile and the needs for good production. Additionally, two fields were tested for a functional group, nitrifying bacteria. Pre-plant soil amendments were added or placed in-row at planting, as each grower chose. Most growers moistened the ground and prepared with a short irrigation or waited for moisture from above.
It was a moist, cool spring which added to difficulties of getting seed in the ground. Soil temp was monitored for 55F or above, at a depth of 2'', with planting completed by the end of May or early June. Seed inoculates were applied at four different sites that incorporate beneficial bacteria, mycorrhizial fungi and Trichoderma sp. for disease control. Only one of the two inoculates had other fungi present, and both innoculates are being trialed beside each-other on one field. One corn crop used no innoculate at all, Ayers Creek Farm. Poor to adequate emergence was noted at the various production sites. Varietal variations were noted in germination rates and vigor, which always leads to hard decisions on what fields are worth saving.
The modern variety sweet corn 'Brocade' grown by Sheldon Davis in Spray Oregon emerged well, but it was noted that rows treated with fertilizer had somewhat better growth than three rows with no fertilizer at all. In the microbial test, nitrifying bacteria were found to be in high numbers, which we hoped would translate into good nitrogen levels in the tissue samples that followed. This was found to be true, although a little too late, and one application of liquid fish fertilizer was applied. The harvest of fresh sweet-corn was excellent with copious amounts of beautiful white-yellow kernels. At the dry down stage, a sample of the corn will be analyzed for the amino-acid profile, with an elemental study to possibly follow. Additional soil samples will be analyzed for the microbial community including mycorrhizal colonization of corn roots. A final soil sample will be tested for the elemental balance at harvest.
The multi-colored sweet corn 'Festivity' is a new variety in development by Jonathon Spero of Lupine Knoll Farm, in Williams Oregon. Nutrient deficiencies noted in the soil analysis were treated with a small amount of lime plus llama and chicken manure. Seed was treated with two types of mycorrhizal innoculates used in separate rows compared to some untreated control rows showed good emergence. Tissue samples were analyzed before tassel and a foliar spray of kelp applied. Currently, this variety is in the dry-down stage with harvest about one or two weeks away. After the harvest, dried corn will be studied for the amino acid profile. Soil samples will again be taken for elemental levels and microbial communities including mycorrhizal colonization. Of the separate innoculates a purple sweet corn, 'Double Red', is being evaluated for the antioxidant, anthocyanin, at early color change and followed at full dry down coloration. This will be compared to base-line data collected on 'Double Red' last year.
At Ayers Creek Farm close to Gaston ,Oregon a premium flint corn, ' Roy's Calla ', is being grown by Anthony Butard. Here the soil was treated pre-plant with organic amendments just below the planting point in the seed row. This is a wonderful milling corn and I am excited about the nutritional quality of the dried corn at harvest. Along with elemental studies the soil was analyzed for microbial communities and found to have the functional group, nitrifying bacteria, in high numbers. Mid-season tissue samples showed low levels of nitrogen in the plant. To my knowledge no further nutrients were put on this crop. It will be interesting to see the amino acid profile and elemental content of this corn at harvest. Soil samples will be taken for elements to evaluate microbial activity.
Last year the entire Nutrition Project with Pest Management Systems and Heritage Foods/Seeds was conducted at American Grass Seed, outside Tangent Oregon. Important base-line data was accumulated especially with regards to antioxidants. This season Shepard Smith, project manager, planted 'Blood Bros.' red sweet corn along with 'Painted Mt.' sweet corn in hopes of crossing for shorter season red sweet corn. Data was collected as with the other farms, through tissue sampling, but weed pressure and poor stand development lead to abandonment of the project in early July. It is with deep regret that a well conceived plan collapsed due to poor-moderate emergence and weed pressure at this field.
The North Fork Ranch is a testament to the reverence that a man has for his land and the extended community around him. Jim Bahrenburg's farm lies along the north fork of the John Day River, near Monument, Oregon. Pre-plant soil samples taken, showed sulfur deficiencies in some-what alkaline conditions, with high active fungal presence. Organic granular fertilizer was shanked into the planting row, followed by seed that was innoculated with mycorrhizae. 'Blood Brothers' was planted densely in hopes of thinning the stand at the five leaf stage. Irrigation challenges were a major problem through the season, as pumps failed and temperatures rose. At the end of the vegetative stage before tasseling began, the corn was sprayed in the evening with liquid fish, Kelpak, and SP-1, a high bacterial solution for good plant health. Tissue samples here showed good nutrient availability for nitrogen. This will be noted in the nutrient profiling to be completed on 'Blood Brothers' this fall. Material was sent in several weeks ago to take a look at anthocyanin development in kernels ,just beginning to change color; material will again be tested at harvest. At harvest material will be analyzed for the amino acid profile, elemental content, possibly total protein content. Soils will be analyzed for elemental levels and the microbial community.
The season 's data now reaches a higher level, as amino acid analysis becomes available. I am privileged to work with Bob Durst with the Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University, again this harvest. This time, we are collaborating on two levels. Amino acid analysis will be carried out at UCLA in California through a colleague of Durst's, as well as an examination of seed coat pigment changes and possible changes in anthocyanin development with both 'Double Red' and 'Blood Brother' sweet corns. This information will have an impact on how each of these corn can be marketed in the coming seasons.
Elemental data may be correlated to harvested grain as well. Last year, corn showed a slight drop in total protein, will this be the case with plants this year under nutrient stress? The market for milled specialty corn's is ever growing and buyers are anticipating a limited supply, demanding the premium required for sustained seasonal production.
Since the Columbia River Basin has some of the highest cancer rates in the country, we believe that we can deter free radicals, acidosis, and other ailments through raw foods and wheat grass juice enzyme therapy. This facet of work could prove to be one of the most promising benefits of our research in 2009.
One of the most challenging aspects of this research, is how to introduce to the general public and farmers alike, the essential "basic" building blocks of biology & the our need to embody or model the finer facets of nature's "program." Due to economic restraints, we often find that there is a short-circuit between values, beliefs and life-style. Folks today are stressed, over-worked, and by and large suffering from neurosis. Quite frankly, humans are "out of time" and at odds with natural law.
I want to encourage farmers, gardeners, common folks and artist's alike to network resources, knowledge and utilities. We live in an abundant bio-region, however much of our resources including the harvest go to waste!
The general public needs to understand and periodically re-visit our fundamental relationship to each-other, biology, the Earth and it's resident life forms. We can localize that awareness into creative forms and re-integrate the essential values obscured by "time is money politics."
In so doing, we are actively exploring local partnerships and non-profit organizations to assist with our mission. You can find links through our web-site to the Gorge Grown Earth Center. The Oregon Tilth Organic Research & Education Center, The Foundation for the Law of Time, and a new organization in central Oregon called the North Fork Bioresource Non-Profit Corporation are potential organizations that we will also approach for funding.
A Summary of Accomplishments to Date
* Elemental and Microbial Relationships to the quality of grain at harvest
* The impact of organic management strategies
* The integration of field research into a Gorge Grown Network
* Establishment of the KinShip Research & Development Center for Wellness
* Refined the Outreach Education Protocal & Kinship Garden Cosmology
* Internet Web-site Development, Communication & Community Networking