True Life Organics (Part I)

Interview with Kees Schelfhout by Stoney Tark.

The following is an interview with Kees Schelfhout Co-founder of BioTabs with big experience and knowledge about Organic growing, how bacteria interact with the soil, how nutrients become the better improvers, and beneficial for soil, plants, the environment, and therefore Earth. 

Q) Hi Kees, Can you tell the readers about yourself and how BioTabs started?

Your welcome mate, BioTabs is an innovative Dutch Fertilizer brand founded by Karel Schelfhout. We started 6 years ago in a garage in The Hague. Now we are based in Barcelona in a big official warehouse. We exclusively work with living microorganisms, beneficial bacteria and concentrated compost. We look at mother nature and we are copying active soil life. When soil life is thriving, you only have to add water. No need to measure pH or EC.

Our BioTabs nutrient block is a compressed tablet made from different organic materials. This includes fish meal, bone powder, blood powder, and many more. It also contains various strains of different beneficial bacteria. The BioTab will slowly release nutrients throughout the grow.

Easy by Nature

What is meant by true life organics?

There is a book written by: ‘The Rev’ about organic growing. It’s his way to describe organic growing. But also check out the Bio Grow Book Written by founder of BioTabs which is also full of tricks and organic tips.  

For me it means only working with raw natural elements. Because I believe in this way the highest quality can be reached with the best clean tasting smoke, and the most enjoyable smooth buzz.

How would you explain to a beginner grower the difference between organics and hydroponics?

With hydroponic growing, you are feeding the plant with just a small number of basic elements, perhaps as little as 12 different minerals. These are always synthesized in a chemical factory. This results in one-sided feeding (limited choice) for the plant.

The plant may not be at full potential, it may not have the best resistance against pest and disease. An additional worry with chemical nutrients is the need to flush near harvest. When not properly flushed, your smoke may contain nasty mineral residues, with unknown long term effects. The plant is totally dependent on you.

With organic growing, we only use natural products: Beneficial bacterias (Trichoderma Bactrex) and microorganisms (Mycorrhizal Mycotrex) and compost (Startrex, Orgatrex, Silicium Flash). All created in an environmentally friendly way by mother nature. This rich living environment of natural soil is constantly active. The bacteria and microorganisms break down the organic material (compost). The bacteria action ensures that the nutrients are in a form where they are easily and naturally absorbed by the plant. So the bacteria are creating the nutrients on the spot in a natural and organic way, which the plant can readily absorb. Supplying mineral chemical nutrients from a chemical factory isn’t necessary and therefore with BioTabs flushing is simply not needed.

With organic BioTabs it’s important to keep the soil moist and prevent it from drying out and killing the living soil. The bacteria stick to the soil particles and ensure that the nutrients are produced. Some bacteria are eaten by other bacteria, this is all part of the natural living soil biosystem. So keep it moist Y’all.

Could you explain how bacteria interact with plants and where does they come from in the first place?

This is actually where the plants show their superiority when grown organically. The plants are so smart that the roots will produce certain sugars to feed the desired type of bacteria. When in the vegetative state the plant needs nitrogen for growth. 

The sugars produced by the roots will attract bacteria that are able to produce (or ‘fix’) nitrogen in a form which is easy absorbed by the plant roots. Later on, when the plants are in bloom and need more Potassium, the roots will produce a sugar that attracts bacteria that are able to produce Potassium in an easily absorbed natural form for the plant.

This means when you grow organic, you have a self-sustaining plant. Don’t panic, it is organic!

Is there such a thing as bad bacteria?

Yes, there are loads of ‘bad’ bacteria (pathogens) which you need to keep out of your soil. The best way to support this is by working as cleanly as possible. And in the soil make sure there are plenty of Trichoderma (Bactrex) bacteria present.

The Trichoderma will colonize the ‘rhizosphere’ which is the upper 5/10 cm of the soil, where the feeding frenzy takes place on a bacterial scale. The Trichoderma is so big that it becomes hard for pathogens to colonize the rhizosphere. Make sure you keep topping up on the Trichoderma, to ensure it all stays colonized.

How do fungi interact with plants and is it a good thing to have fungi?

Fungi are great! The fungi we like to work with when growing organic is the mycorrhizal fungi (Mycotrex) we use a mix of 9 different mycorrhizal fungi, which are actually spores. When these spores germinate they will look for a root, when they have found a root they will start a symbiosis, that means the roots and the fungi are starting collaboration in which they both enjoy benefits. The fungi feeds on the sugars produced by the roots. And the roots get nutrients from the mycorrhizal fungi. Big Roots Big Fruits…

How can a farmer with mineral deficiency improve the sustainability of their land with the use of organics?

A farmer could totally revitalize his land with the use of organic growing, there are many methods for this. One of my personal favorites is by using plants. There is a special variety of grass called sudan grass. After a big harvest farmers like to grow this, it will grow incredibly fast. When it has reached a height of 1,5/1,8M the farmers spread some compost and bacteria on the land and then will cut the grass and leave it on the field to compost and become part of the natural life cycle. After the grass is composted. The soil is ready to rock. 

Luz Arroyo
Author: Luz Arroyo