Myths of ecology

From: “Better than Organica Conversation” with Agricola by Michael Astera

One way of describing his energy ideas might be the comparison of a dead battery and a fully charged battery. Their elemental makeup is identical: the same amount of Lead, Sulfur, and water are in each, but one of them can do useful work while the other one just sits there. There’s an energy flow when you connect + and – on the charged battery, nothing on the dead battery.

Let me see if I can make that a bit more clear. The charged battery has the same mix of elements in the same proportions as the dead battery, but there are a lot of potential chemical reactions that haven’t happened yet, chemical reactions that release energy. Sort of like a bottle of vinegar and a dish of baking soda; when you pour the vinegar onto the baking soda, things start fizzing, heat and energy are released. When the fizzing stops, things have reached chemical equilibrium and there’s no more energy release. A living soil with the right balance of minerals always has a certain amount of chemical imbalance, things being born and dying and decomposing, plant roots exchanging Hydrogen for Calcium or Potassium, grains of sand breaking down and releasing new minerals. Nutrient elements are constantly shuffling around and energy is being released. In a dead soil, nothing is happening, new nutrients are not being released and exchanged, and the only way to get plants to grow is by feeding them synthetic fertilizers.

So one could have two soils of identical chemical composition but of different energy potentials, and the energized soil would grow good crops while the “dead battery” soil just sat there. This is a valuable observation Reams made, one that has been overlooked by many agricultural researchers.

Reams and his students also popularized the use of the refractometer in agriculture. A refractometer is a fancy name for a simple tube and eyepiece with a prism lens at one end that is used to measure dissolved solids in a liquid. It measures in the Brix scale and has long been used by professional winemakers to measure the sugar content of grapes–the higher the Brix reading, the sweeter the grapes.

Now this is a simple little device that anyone can use. One could even take it with them to the fruit stand and measure the sugar content, hence the mineral content, of an orange or a tomato before buying a bagful. If that orange has a Brix reading of 16%, buy it! If it’s only 4 or 6%, don’t waste your money on insipid, tasteless food. Pretty cool.

What the refractometer measures is how much light is bent, or refracted, by the dissolved solids in the plant’s juice or sap. A thin, watery sap devoid of nutrients won’t bend the light passing through it like a sweet, richly mineralized sap will. So a person can use a refractometer to measure the quality of their own homegrown fruits and vegetables.

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One Response

  1. As a gardner … composter… grower… this was a really cool snippet.


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