There are many different types of farming beyond conventional measures, including organic, biodynamic, hydroponic and biological. Many of these alternative forms are concerned with the health not only of the crops, but of the soil and the land itself. Biological farming is unique because it reaches both organic and conventional farmers. We spoke with Michael Lovlien of MidWestern BioAg, to learn more about what biological farming entails.
What is biological farming?
MidWestern BioAg, a leader in biological agriculture with an office in Utica, Minn., defines biological farming as “a thoughtful, systems-based approach to farming that uses the best strengths of new technologies and of historical farming practices. It incorporates the best practices of conventional farming and organic farming.”
Essentially, biological farming is an attempt to increase the health of plants by improving the health of the soil.
Michael Lovlien, sales consultant for MidWestern BioAg, describes biological farming more in depth: “We try to create an environment where organisms (and bacteria) can flourish. They’re just like you and I, they need air, food and shelter. A big part of our biological farming is to provide air and water in proper ratios along with some minerals that are the building blocks of their environment.”
By addressing deficiencies in soil composition, biological farming aims to create a nutritious and supportive environment where bacteria can flourish, making it easier for plants to get the nutrients they need to grow.
Digging into soil
Most people don’t give a second thought to dirt, but biological farmers are strongly invested in their soil. They know, for instance, that soil is made up of three main parts: chemicals, physical structure and biological life. By properly addressing all three, their soil will allow plants to grow to their full potential.
According to MidWestern BioAg, “The basis behind biological farming is that all of the living organisms in healthy soils play a vital role in nutrient cycling and uptake and by building upon life promoting systems in the soil you can optimize the health and growth of plants.”
The chemical balance of the soil is the first part of soil composition. This is comprised of nutrients such as calcium, magnesium, potassium, as well as trace minerals
The second part of soil composition is the physical structure. Lovlien likens this to the difference in consistency of chocolate cake and pumpkin pie—healthy soil will be light and spongy like chocolate cake. If your soil is dense like pumpkin pie, your plants will suffocate because they cannot get enough oxygen.
The third facet of soil composition is biological, meaning what bacteria are
in the soil. Biological farming aims to bolster the chemical and physical parts
so the natural bacteria can florish.
Lovlien likes to think of biological farming as “taking care of the livestock
in your soil along with the livestock on your farm above the soil.”
Why farm biological-style?
MidWestern BioAg claims there are enormous environmental
benefits to biological farming:
- Increased drought resistance and improved water usage
- Reduction or elimination of nutrient runoff
- Substantial reduction in carbon footprint
- Rebuilding of soils to counteract erosion
They also say “human health benefits are substantial because fully
mineralized, biologically grown plants incorporate more nutrients into
the crops and have little or no residues from the crop-protection chemicals.”
Lovlien explains what biological farming does is “provide the soil
conditions to allow natural systems to work more efficiently.”
Biological faring works for both large scale farms and also for small garden
plots. It can be used organically or with conventional methods.
As more and more people become concerned about the health of the land,
farmers will have to begin paying closer attention to the soil used to grow