Welcome to the Ultra Gro Agronomy Letter!
Happy 4th of July! We hope everyone has an opportunity to share some time with family and enjoy safe travels during this busy weekend. God Bless America!
It starts with the soil.

In the past several newsletters, we have been trying to come up with budget-conscious ideas to assist growers during these challenging economic times. A common theme that keeps popping up during these conversations is to come up with ways to mine our soils of the existing nutrients already found in our soils. These nutrients are often “tied up” and unavailable to the plants. As we all know, biology and beneficial bacteria play a key role in improving soil health and making soil-borne nutrients available to plants. Having said that, we have asked Ultra Gro Agronomist Robert Smith to give us a refresher on the role played by beneficial bacteria and micro-organisms in our soils and a brief description of Ultra Gro’s products that address those issues.
Soil Inoculants
by Robert Smith, Agronomist
Soil biology is important for keeping agricultural systems healthy and productive. Living soil is complex. It includes living organisms that cannot be seen with the naked eye, such as bacteria, fungi, actinomycetes, protozoa and nematodes, as well as creatures such as insects and earthworms. This community of organisms is bound together in a food web that affects the soil's chemical and physical properties. We care about these properties because they affect plant growth and health.

A healthy soil can contain billions of bacteria, fungi, and other microorganisms in one teaspoon. Depending on soil conditions, the populations of these different microorganisms rise and fall.
Practices such as adding manures or composts to soil, planting cover crops and rotating crops are all aimed at rebuilding and maintaining soil organic matter, recycling and retaining nutrients, and decreasing soil diseases. These practices are usually associated with increased microbial biomass and increased soil organism diversity.

Biofertilizers contain live microorganisms that, when applied to the seed, plant or soil, inhabit the area around the roots (rhizosphere) or live in the roots. These microorganisms promote plant growth by increasing the supply or availability of nutrients, by stimulating root growth or by aiding other beneficial symbiotic relationships. Biofertilizers are also called plant growth promoters.

Legumes such as clover, peas and beans have root-colonizing rhizobacteria that can increase the availability of nitrogen to the plant by fixing nitrogen from the atmosphere. There are also free-living, nitrogen-fixing bacteria that can supply nitrogen to cereal plants such as wheat and corn. They live in the area right around the root (the rhizosphere).

In many soils, nutrients such as phosphorus, potassium and iron are present in large amounts but in forms that plants cannot use. Many bacteria and fungi are able to make these nutrients available to plants by secreting organic acids or other chemicals (siderophores) to dissolve the minerals. Mycorrhizal fungi that live in plant roots are well known for their ability to provide phosphorus to plants.

Some bacteria and fungi produce plant growth hormones that can increase root growth specifically, and plant growth in general. Increased root growth helps the plant utilize a larger volume of soil for nutrients and water and can help the plant to "outgrow" pathogen attacks.
In addition to acting as a direct inhibitor of plant pathogens, some fungi and bacteria stimulate the plant to activate its own defense mechanisms. This is called “induced systemic resistance”. In response to chemical signals from the microorganisms, plants may change physiological responses so that there are fewer symptoms of the pathogen. This may include strengthening its cell wall to resist infection or releasing antibiotics (such as terpenes) that reduce pathogen attack. 

By boosting and cultivating helpful bacteria, farmers can keep their crops healthier and better maintain the quality of their soil. 

As plants are grown, especially the same crops season after season, soil can become depleted. Essentially this means the life-giving qualities and nutrients are never returned to the soil after it’s reaped by plants which are then harvested. In the natural cycle found in the wild, the decomposition of plants helps recycle life back into the soil. 

Adding the right bacteria colonies boosts the health of the soil, making it possible to naturally produce highly nutritional foods in the same locations. Here is a brief listing of beneficial Microbials that are important to maintaining healthy soils and plants. Many of these are incorporated into Ultra Gro fertilizers.
Ultra Gro and Microbes
by Robert Smith, Agronomist
In the past decade, there has been a surge in the development of microbial products for agriculture, including bacteria and fungi that benefit crop productivity. Ultra Gro has been an innovator and leader in microbial product design and development. We started our company in 1985 and developed our first “snake oil” immediately thereafter. For the past 30 years, Ultra Gro has propagated our microbes at our plant in Madera and we incorporate them into our fertilizers during the manufacturing process.

The microbial biostimulants contained in Ultra Gro products are a diverse group of materials that are used to enhance the development of soil microorganisms. They improve microbial energy, stimulate root growth, improve crop quality and yield, as well as tolerance to abiotic stresses (drought, salinity, heat, etc…).

Most Ultra Gro products (including NPK blends and Calcium products) contain a consortium of microbial organisms, each containing three to five species of bacteria and actinomycetes. These beneficial bacteria act like micro bio-reactors, continually producing enzymes that release nutrients and stimulate fruit production. Ultra Gro has two primary, stand-alone microbial products: UG Organic Soil Booster and UG Soil Treatment (6-0-0-8).  
UG Organic Soil Booster (“organically” certified by CDFA) helps growers get more out of their applied liquid fertilizers by increasing nutrient availability and promoting better root growth and development. By converting organic nutrients into inorganic forms, UG Organic Soil Booster makes nutrients more available for plant uptake and utilization, helping to optimize yield potential and providing outstanding grower ROI. UG Organic Soil Booster can also be used by growers seeking to extract nutrients locked in crop residues or trying to address soil compaction, soil salinity, and water management issues. UG Organic Soil Booster is compatible with both conventional and organic production practices.

Key Benefits:
  • Increases nutrient availability and uptake
  • Promotes better root growth and development
  • Enhances nutrient use efficiency
  • Improves soil microbial activity

UG Soil Treatment (6-0-0-8) is our time-proven blend of Biologicals, 25+ ingredients, with N and Ca. It is formulated to help effectively manage nutrients tied up in the soil speeding the release of existing nutrition while also increasing nutrient availability. The microbials in UG Soil Treatment (6-0-0-8) speeds nutrient release and, while promoting an optimal carbon to nitrogen ratio to enhance soil microbial activity, further expediting nutrient return to the soil profile.

Key Benefits:
  • Improves root growth and overall plant quality
  • Improves crop tolerance to abiotic stress
  • Increase nutrient uptake
  • Improves soil microbial activity

All of the microorganism species in Ultra Gro Plant Food products are tested and selected by the Agricultural Microbiologists for their respective activities in the soil. Additionally, they also help other soil borne bacterial species such as Thiobacillus, Desulforibrio (for sulfur supply) and Rhizobium (for Nitrogen fixation) for making nutrients available to the root system.

These bacterial species in Ultra Gro products have advantage to grow faster over the wild bacterial species in the soil because it carries the residual effect of nutrients used for growing the five bacterial species. The nutrient media is the same used in University labs to grow bacteria.
All of Ultra Gro’s microbial products improve both soil and plant health by stimulating soil microbiota, improving plant growth, and reducing crop stress for better crop quality and yield.
Please call your Ultra Gro Crop Advisor for more information .

Enjoy your holiday weekend!