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From: Oz <>
Newsgroups: sci.agriculture,sci.agriculture.sustainable,misc.rural,rec.gardens
Subject: Re: High Plains Journal editorial on Organic Farming
Date: Sat, 7 Feb 1998 09:23:27 +0000

In article <>, Rex Harrill
<> writes
>Craig, I typed "beneficial nematode" into Alta Vista and got 1100+
>hits.  The one below was first on the list and seems to be some type of
>government site.
>These two items were mentioned:
>Also, there are a few articles in my reference books describing how
>fungi in a healthy soil eat---just like the man said---nematodes.  I'd
>go even further than he did and say---bluntly---that nematodes are the
>mark of a *sick* soil.

Oh, Rex, you are a screech! ROFL!

A healthy soil is a complex and ever-changing ecosystem comprising all
sorts of soil organisms including nematodes, arthropods, bacteria,
fungi, viruses and probably a few groups I have forgotten. Take out one,
and you disturb the balance. Those beasties being controlled by
nematodes would flourish epidemically and seriously disturb the balance,
and probably your crop. Nematodes are a huge group and different species
do very different things.

If you have a healthy and fertile soil, and healthy disease-free plants
then it takes quite a lot of root nematodes to affect yield. Now, if the
crop is a heavy one each year, it will have lots of roots, and the root
eelworms will flourish. Of course this provides more food for the root
nematoid eaters, so they flourish too, eventually reducing the numbers
to a relatively low level. I farm an area where cereal cyst eelworm used
to cause complete crop failure, but I have never needed to do anything
about it for this reason. Since some nematodes, as you noticed, are
indeed beneficial I want them too. I want a nice active soil ecosystem
because the evidence is that this produces good crops as long as you can
keep the other pests and diseases away.

[NB The main control of cereal cyst eelworm is indeed a fungus that sets
looped traps to catch eelworm and eat them. I just love nature, it has
so many neat surprises.]

>Of course the word-splitters of this list will
>be quick to point out that beneficial nematodes could not survive in a
>healthy (as defined by me) soil.

We all know by now that 'healthy', 'bebeficial', 'toxic' and 'dangerous'
are all words unilaterally redefined by Rex in order to make his point.
Perish the thought that he would use these words with the same meaning
as everyone else.

>And I would say: yes---you're exactly
>right.  The people that spray toxic materials on their soil know not
>what they do.  They often create yet another problem by simplistic
>chemical interference with a biological process.

Which Rex has not the faintest idea about.


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