Growing The Healthiest Food On The Planet
For the first time, thanks to our ability to conduct highly efficient and low cost genetic sequencing, we now have a map of the normal microbial make-up of a healthy human. A collection of bacteria, fungi, one-celled archaea, and viruses. Collectively they weigh about three pounds -- the same as our brain.
Now that we have this map of what microorganisms are vital to our health, many believe that the future of healthcare will focus less on traditional illnesses and more on treating disorders of the human microbiome by introducing targeted microbial species (a "probiotic") and therapeutic foods (a "prebiotic" -- food for microbes) into the gut "community."
Scientists in the Human Microbiome Project set as a core outcome the development of "a twenty-first century pharmacopoeia that includes members of the human microbiota and the chemical messengers they produce."
We have now come to a point where we can effectively and at relatively low cost, identify and grow key bacteria and the right species of fungi and apply them in larger-scale balanced eco-system agriculture. We can produce these "bio fertilizers" and add them to the Soil to grow with and nourish the herbs, vegetables and other crops. We can sow the "seeds" of microorganisms with our crop seeds and, as hundreds of independent studies confirm, increase our crop yields and eliminate the need for biocides, herbicides, pesticides, chemical fertilizers, etc.
The same technological advances that allow us to map the human microbiome now enable us to understand, isolate, and reintroduce microbial species into the soil to repair the damage and restore healthy microbial communities that sustain our crops and provide nutrient dense food and feed. It is now much easier for us to understand soil microorganisms, what they actually do and how to grow them, and reintroduce them back to the soil. Producing very high quality, nutrient dense, tasty, smart for you, foods and beverages.
The Certified Prime+™ and Beyond Organics®appellations represent not just a superior customer value proposition, but proprietary operational knowledge and a set of standards that go well beyond the clichéd ‘All Natural/Organic’ moniker. Cutting through the clutter, confusion and frustration premium product consumers’ experience in pursuit of their value, quality, health and lifestyle goals.
This is also, in part, the justification behind these customer groups motivation to pay, 50-200% premiums for these product and service attributes. A ‘relatively small premium’ paid in exchange for the assurance of healthy satisfaction with the very limited quality time they have to spend with family and friends.
What Beyond Organics is not, however, is some clever marketing gimmick. It is an authentic restoration of the symbiotic relationship between healthy soil and the vitality of our food, simply put, “life is in the soil, death is in the dirt”. Integrity through a diversified vertical integration, old-school Agra-science and intelligent technologies in synchronicity with mother nature. Restoring the Relationship Between our Food, Health and Vitality. An Authentic and Durable Apex Class Competitive Edge.
MOE Farms’ Beyond Organics continuous harvest grow-house concept
A Closed Loop Eco-Sphere Design: Soil, Water, Photosynthesis & Climate Restores the Relationship Between our Food, Health and Vitality.
This will be a Continuous Harvest Cycle operation. MOE Farms will grow approximately 75 varieties of vegetables and produce, 35 varieties of herbs and premium specialty ingredients. Providing Prime+ and Beyond Organics customers with the highest quality, fresh, healthy, nutrient dense vegetables, produce, herbs, beef, pork, poultry, dairy and specialty ingredients. On demand with in-season taste, year-round at Beyond Organics quality standards.
Eco-science breakthroughs in combination with Proprietary methodologies and technologies enable MOE Farms to provide in-season taste in private label, retail, bulk and hospitality packaging 365 days a year. Add to the mix first mover advantage in a growing and systemic supply demand imbalance, a one stop shop true farm-to-fork vertical integration strategy and you get an authentic, high margin and durable apex class competitive edge. Positioning MOE Farms to pass on to its retail and hospitality customers a measurable and distinctive satisfaction as well. This is what a real, cost efficient and effective customer loyalty program looks and feels like.
Empowered Smart Soil™
Powered on-site by E Q Power
Continuous Harvest Mgmt. System
Proprietary Grow Master Multiplier x 2.2
All produce waste repurposed to E Q Power plant
CO2 from bio-gas production recycled into Garden Ecosphere
Below Zero Emissions and Carbon Negative Closed-Loop Eco-System
Our proprietary Grow Master system is a continuous harvest design that enables MOE Farms to realize a 2.2 times per square foot production advantage. In combination with the Beyond Organics garden house design and Smart Soil formulations, we anticipate a gain of 400 to 500% per square foot in annual production capacity over conventional greenhouse operations.
Restoring the Relationship Between our Food, Health and Vitality. “Feeding the Soil, feeding the plants, feeding us, our pets, livestock and the healthy fungi and microbial communities cycle of life”.
Image for Illustration Purposes Only
Beyond Organics Cutting through the clutter, confusion and frustration premium product consumers' experience in pursuit of their value, quality, health and lifestyle goals.
It all Starts from the ground up with Smart Soil
We have been hearing a lot recently about a revolution in the way we think about human health -- how it is inextricably linked to the health of microbes in our gut, mouth, nasal passages, and other "habitats" in and on us. With the release of the results of the five-year National Institutes of Health's Human Microbiome Project, we are told we should think of ourselves as a "superorganism," a residence for microbes with whom we have coevolved, who perform critical functions and provide services to us, and who outnumber our own human cells ten to one.
For the first time, thanks to our ability to conduct highly efficient and low cost genetic sequencing, we now have a map of the normal microbial make-up of a healthy human, a collection of bacteria, fungi, one-celled archaea, and viruses. Collectively they weigh about three pounds -- the same as our brain.
Now that we have this map of what microorganisms are vital to our health, many believe that the future of healthcare will focus less on traditional illnesses and more on treating disorders of the human microbiome by introducing targeted microbial species (a "probiotic") and therapeutic foods (a "prebiotic" -- food for microbes) into the gut "community." Scientists in the Human Microbiome Project set as a core outcome the development of "a twenty-first century pharmacopoeia that includes members of the human microbiota and the chemical messengers they produce."
The single greatest leverage point for a sustainable and healthy future is arguably immediately underfoot: a living soil, where we grow our food.
Mycorrhizae Hypha Mycelium Network Increases Active Root Surface for Nutrient Acquisition up to 200 times! (Left and Right)
This is what the Artificial Fertilizers and Biocides are Killing and why we have a crisis of Obesity and Malnourishment in America.
There is another major revolution in human health also just beginning based on an understanding of tiny organisms. It is driven by the same technological advances and allows us to understand and restore our collaborative relationship with microbiota not in the human gut but in another dark place: the soil.
Just as we have unwittingly destroyed vital microbes in the human gut through overuse of antibiotics and highly processed foods, we have recklessly devastated soil microbiota essential to plant health through overuse of certain chemical fertilizers, fungicides, herbicides, pesticides, failure to add sufficient organic matter (upon which they feed), and heavy tillage. These soil microorganisms -- particularly bacteria and fungi -- cycle nutrients and water to plants, to our crops, the source of our food, and ultimately our health.
Soil bacteria and fungi serve as the "stomachs" of plants. They form symbiotic relationships with plant roots and "digest" nutrients, providing nitrogen, phosphorus, and many other nutrients in a form that plant cells can assimilate. Reintroducing the right bacteria and fungi to facilitate the dark fermentation process in depleted and sterile soils is analogous to eating yogurt (or taking those targeted probiotic "drugs of the future") to restore the right microbiota deep in your digestive tract.
The good news is that the same technological advances that allow us to map the human microbiome now enable us to understand, isolate, and reintroduce microbial species into the soil to repair the damage and restore healthy microbial communities that sustain our crops and provide nutritious food. It is now much easier for us to map genetic sequences of soil microorganisms, understand what they actually do and how to grow them, and reintroduce them back to the soil.
Since the 1970s, there have been soil microbes for sale in garden shops, but most products were hit-or-miss in terms of actual effectiveness, were expensive, and were largely limited to horticulture and hydroponics. New genetic sequencing and production technologies have now come to a point where we can effectively and at low cost identify and grow key bacteria and the right species of fungi and apply them in large-scale agriculture. We can produce these "bio fertilizers" and add them to herbs, vegetables, or other crop seeds to grow with and nourish the plant. We can sow the "seeds" of microorganisms with our crop seeds and, as hundreds of independent studies confirm, increase quality, yields and reduce the need for irrigation and chemical fertilizers.
These soil microorganisms do much more than nourish plants. Just as the microbes in the human body both aid digestion and maintain our immune system, soil microorganisms both digest nutrients and protect plants against pathogens and other threats.
For over four hundred million years, plants have been forming a symbiotic association with fungi that colonize their roots, creating mycorrhizae (my-cor-rhi-zee), literally "fungus roots," which extend the reach of plant roots a hundred-fold.
These fungal filaments not only channel nutrients and water back to the plant cells, they connect plants and actually enable them to communicate with one another and set up defense systems. As a recent experiment in the U.K. showed that mycorrhizal filaments act as a conduit for signaling between plants, strengthening their natural defenses against pests.
When attacked by aphids, a broad bean plant transmitted a signal through the mycorrhizal filaments to other bean plants nearby, acting as an early warning system, enabling those plants to begin to produce their defensive chemical that repels aphids and attracts wasps, a natural aphid predator. Another study showed that diseased tomato plants also use the underground network of mycorrhizal filaments to warn healthy tomato plants, which then activate their defenses before being attacked themselves.
Thus, the microbial community in the soil, like in the human biome, provides "invasion resistance" services to its symbiotic partner. We disturb this association at our peril. As Michael Pollan recently noted, "Some researchers believe that the alarming increase in autoimmune diseases in the West may owe to a disruption in the ancient relationship between our bodies and their 'old friends' -- the microbial symbionts with whom we coevolved."
Not only do soil microorganisms nourish and protect plants, they play a crucial role in providing many "ecosystem services" that are absolutely critical to human survival. By many calculations, the living soil is the Earth's most valuable ecosystem, providing ecological services such as climate regulation, mitigation of drought and floods, soil erosion prevention, and water filtration, worth trillions of dollars each year. Those who study the human microbiome have now begun to borrow the term "ecosystem services" to describe critical functions played by microorganisms in human health.
With regard to stabilizing our increasingly unruly climate, soil microorganisms have been sequestering carbon for hundreds of millions of years through the mycorrizal filaments, which are coated in a sticky protein called "glomalin.". As much as 30 to 40 percent of the glomalin molecule is carbon. Glomalin may account for as much as one-third of the world's soil carbon -- and the soil contains more carbon than all plants and the atmosphere combined.
We are now at a point where microbes that thrive in healthy soil have been largely rendered inactive or eliminated in most commercial agricultural lands; they are unable to do what they have done for hundreds of millions of years, to access, conserve, and cycle nutrients and water for plants and regulate the climate. Half of the earth's habitable lands are farmed and we are losing soil and organic matter at an alarming rate. Studies show steady global soil depletion over time, and a serious stagnation in crop yields.
So, not only have we hindered natural processes that nourish crops and sequester carbon in cultivated land, but modern agriculture has become one of the biggest causes of ecosystem instability. Our current global food system, from clearing forests to growing food, to fertilizer manufacturing, to food storage and packaging, is responsible for up to one-third of all human-caused greenhouse-gas emissions. This is more than all the cars and trucks in the transportation sector, which accounts for about one-fifth of all greenhouse gases globally.
The single greatest leverage point for a sustainable and healthy future for the seven billion people on the planet is thus arguably immediately underfoot: the living soil, where we grow our food. Overall soil ecology still holds many mysteries. What Leonardo Da Vinci said five hundred years ago is probably still true today: "We know more about the movement of celestial bodies than about the soil underfoot." Though you never see them, ninety percent of all organisms on the seven continents live underground.
In addition to bacteria and fungi, the soil is also filled with protozoa, nematodes, mites, and microarthropods. There can be 10,000 to 50,000 species in less than a teaspoon of soil. In that same teaspoon of soil, there are more microbes than there are people on the earth. In a handful of healthy soil, there is more biodiversity in just the bacterial community than you will find in all the animals of the Amazon basin.
We hear about many endangered animals in the Amazon and now all around the world. We all know about the chainsaw-wielding workers cutting trees in the rainforest. But we hear relatively little about the destruction of the habitat of kingdoms of life beyond plant and animal -- that of bacteria and fungi.
We are making good progress in mapping the soil microbiome, hopefully in time to identify those species vital to soil and plant health, so they can be reintroduced as necessary. The Earth Microbiome Project is analyzing and mapping microbial communities in soils and waters across the globe. We do not want to find ourselves in the position we have been with regard to many animal species that have gone extinct.
We have already decimated or eliminated known vital soil microorganisms in certain soils and now need to reintroduce them. But it is very different from an effort, let us say, to reintroduce the once massive herds of buffalo to the American plains. We need these tiny partners to help build a sustainable agricultural system, to stabilize our climate in an era of increasing drought and severe weather, and to maintain our very health and well-being.
The mass destruction of soil microorganisms began with technological advances in the early twentieth century. The number of tractors in the U.S. went from zero to three million by 1950. Farmers increased the size of their fields and made cropping more specialized. Advances in the manufacture of nitrogen fertilizers made them abundant and affordable. Ammonium nitrate produced in WWII for munitions was then used for agriculture (we recently saw the explosive power contained in one such fertilizer factory in the town of West Texas).
The "Green Revolution" was driven by a fear of how to feed massive population growth. It did produce more food, but it was at the cost of the long-term health of the soil. And many would argue that the food it did produce was progressively less nutritious as the soil became depleted of organic matter, minerals, and microorganisms. Evidenced by the AMAs recent findings that over 50% of all preventable disease is nutritionally related, producing an epidemic of ‘Obese yet Malnourished’ populations. Arden Andersen, a soil scientist and agricultural consultant turned physician, has long argued that human health is directly correlated to soil health. Perhaps the single greatest point of leverage in terms of costs, quality and availability of health care.
During this same period, we saw the rise of the "biological agriculture" movement, largely in reaction to these technological developments and the mechanization of agriculture. Scientific advances now allow us to take soil organisms from an eco-farming niche to mainstream agribusiness.
Many field tests, including a recent one at the University of North Dakota, show that application of a commercial mycorrhizal fungi product to the soybean root or seeds increased soybean yields from 5 to 15 percent. The value of increased yields is three to five times greater than the cost of application at current prices.
Studies show that there will also be major savings from reduced need for chemical fertilizers and irrigation due to more efficient up-take of minerals and water. This also means fewer toxins and pollutants, particularly nitrogen fertilizers, leaching from agricultural lands into our public water system and rivers, which has contributed to massive "dead zones" like that in the Mississippi Delta.
For all these reasons, bio fertility products are now a $500 million industry and growing fast. The major agricultural chemical companies, like Bayer, BASF, Novozymes, Pioneer, and Syngenta are now actively selling, acquiring or developing these products.
Reintroducing microorganisms into the soil, together with the organic matter they feed upon, has the potential to be a key part of the next big revolution in human health -- the development of sustainable agriculture and food security based on restored soil health. Just as in the case of the human microbiome, the soil drugs of the future are ones full of friendly germs, and the foods they like to eat.
Mike Amaranthus is the chief scientist at Mycorrhizal Applications, Inc.
Bruce J. Allyn is the former director of the Harvard-Soviet Joint Study on Crisis Prevention and the author of The Edge of Armageddon: Lessons from the Brink.
The message is simple: soil is at the heart of planetary systems and its correct management is vital in combating climate change as well as a wide range of other ecological damage. The fundamental objective of organic agriculture is optimal soil management; for industrial agriculture soil is just another resource. It is conspicuously clear that it is ecological/organic management that has the capability and praxis to maintain productive agriculture over an indefinite time scale. The alternative ‘consumes’ soil, eroding the very basis of its existence, meaning its time is limited, particularly in the face of global climate change.
The “narrowly-focused ‘seed and fertilizer’ revolution”  that proponents of industrial scale agriculture continue to push is not only the wrong answer, it is a key part of the problem. The increases in agricultural production over the last half century are mainly due to the increased use of synthetic nitrogen fertilizers, new crop cultivars (‘seeds’) that can make better use of the synthetic nitrogen fertilizers and irrigation. The farming system this mixture promotes is monoculture, which is ecologically unstable and therefore requires continual propping up by biocides, i.e. pesticides, insecticides, herbicides and fungicides.
This approach has undoubtedly resulted in considerable increases in crop yields over this time. It is however a classic example of flawed reductionism in that the overwhelming aim has been yield increase regardless of the other effects that using synthetic nitrogen, irrigation and biocides cause, such as:
· the degradation, erosion and loss of soil,
· lower nutrient contents of crops,
· evolutionary biocide arms races against pests and diseases,
· pollution of waterways and Ocean dead zones,
· farmer indebtedness,
· loss of biodiversity, and
· biocides in food, etc., etc. .
The narrow focus on yield from nitrogen and water ignores the consequent negative downstream effects and also fails to consider the long term sustainability of the whole system, i.e. no questions are asked about upstream issues, e.g. where the nitrogen and water come from and how long they can continue to be obtained.
If these are not sufficient reasons to support investment in organic/ecological farming systems over industrial, then further support is provided by industrial agriculture’s significant contribution to climate change, a threat to civilization of such enormity that business (and investment) as usual is absolutely no longer an option.
Agriculture directly contributes 13.5% of the greenhouse gas emissions responsible for global warming and climate change (Figure 2 and Box 1). However, this analysis excludes many of the up and down stream components of agriculture, e.g. the production of synthetic nitrogen fertilizers, and when these are taken into account using lifecycle assessment, agriculture contributes between 25-30% of all GHG emissions .
The 13.5% of direct net GHG emissions by agriculture is estimated at between 5.1 and 6.1 gigatons (Gt) CO2eq, in 2005. This is composed of 3.3 Gt CO2eq methane, 2.8 Gt CO2eq nitrous oxide and 0.04 Gt CO2. The CO2 figure is small because these are net figures and while there are very large flows of carbon between agriculture and the atmosphere they are mostly cyclical and in balance. However, land clearance for agriculture and soil degradation which do result in substantial CO2 and other GHG emissions are not counted under agricultural emissions by the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). In comparison agriculture is considered to be the main emitter of nitrous oxides and methane, which is additionally problematic as these have approx. 300 and 20 times respectively the global warming potential of CO2 see Box 1.
Nitrous oxide emissions mostly originate from:
· high levels of soluble forms of nitrogen in the soil mostly from synthetic nitrogen fertilizers; and
· animal housing and manure management.
Methane emissions mostly originate from:
· the digestive processes (enteric fermentation) of ruminants (e.g. cows, sheep, goats) (see Box 2);
· anaerobic rice paddies;
· manure management; and
· compaction of soils due to the use of heavy machinery.
The burning of biomass, e.g. from slash-and-burn agriculture, and clearing land for agriculture emits both methane and nitrous oxide. Manure, 7% Soil emissions, 38% Enteric fermentation, 32% Biomass burning, 12% Rice production, 11%
Climate Change and Investment in Ecological Agriculture Outperformance and Opportunity
Soil in Earth’s Critical Zone
Earth’s Critical Zone is the thin surface layer of our planet that extends from the top of the vegetation to the bottom of drinking water aquifers. Soil is at the heart of the Critical Zone and delivers many soil functions that provide important environmental goods and services that are essential for humanity. We cannot survive without soil.
Earth’s Critical Zone is the thin surface layer that provides most of our life-sustaining resources. Essential soil functions within the Critical Zone include:
- Biomass production
- Storage and transmission of water
- Storage of carbon and reduced greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions
- Nutrient transformations
- Pollutant transformations
- Providing biological habitat
- Maintaining Earth’s gene pool
Soil forms when rock breaks up and
dissolves at Earth’s surface, from the action of water with the help of plants
and soil organisms. The mineral particles that form, bind together with living
organisms and decaying organic matter to create larger aggregates of soil material.
Fertile soil is rich in aggregates. As a rough guide, fertile soil has more
than 60% of its weight contained in the form of aggregates that are greater
than 0.25 mm in size.
Human Impact on Soil and the Critical Zone
The Critical Zone and soils are under huge pressure from growth in human population and wealth. By 2050 it is projected that Earth’s population will exceed 9.5 billion people with a predicted quadrupling in the global economy, doubling in demand for food, doubling in demand for energy and biofuel crops and more than 50% increase in demand for clean water
These pressures have already led to extensive soil degradation worldwide.
· Since the 19th century, around 60% of soil carbon in
organic matter has been lost.
· In the past 25 years one-quarter of global land area shows declining soil functions.
· Soil erosion from conventional agriculture is up to 100 times faster than soil formation.
· Draining peatlands worldwide causes peat loss 20 times faster than the peat formation.
Flows and transformations of material, energy and genetic
biodiversity contribute to soil functions. The flows connect the different
parts of the Critical Zone (left) and transmit the impacts of human activity
through the Critical Zone. Good soil management reduces bad impacts.
Increasing resource demands are causing soil degradation worldwide. Soil functions are lost due to erosion when bare soil is swept from the land surface by wind and water; desertification that occurs when loss of soil organic matter is so severe that soils no longer retain nutrients and support vegetation; degradation from pollution and from salts that are left behind when irrigation water evaporates; compaction from machinery and tillage that destroys larger soil aggregates; and sealing over by expansion of cities, buildings and roads.
The Critical Zone Chain of Impact
Soil is everything and soil health is the keystone of our environmental ecosystems, from which their delicate balance evolves. Good soil is teeming with organisms; it is literally alive. Poor soil doesn't have this, or has it in such greatly reduced quantities that it is negligible, and the richness of microbial life, just as with humans, has a lot to do with health and fertility. We've been mistreating soils on an industrial level for many decades now and the damage done is emerging in the catalogue of environmental woes facing the Earth in the 21st century. Soil is under siege.
It's disappearing at an alarming rate. Topsoil is being depleted faster than it can be replenished and something like 83 billion tons of it is lost every year. On top of that over 70% of it is degraded. The term 'peak soil' has recently entered our lexicon. It's a quiet crisis brewing across the globe.