Soil Biology - Enzymes Part III : Microbial Safety

Microbial Safey - Why is it important?

Microbially safe enzymes, at this point in time, are an oxymoron. They simply do not exist as far as the general consumer knows. Even manufacturers of other fertilizers and soil amendments would more than likely tell you that this concept is opposed from reality. However, not only does it exist, but the benefits are seemingly endless!! A microbially safe enzyme is one that naturally exists in a balanced microbial community. These enzymes can be applied to a bacterially dominant environment without lysing (causing the cell walls to burst) the microbes. So, how is this achieved? 

Most industrial enzymes are actually very good at their job. In fact, they can be too good, making them effective and detrimental at the same time. These enzymes cause such a rapid acceleration of metabolic activity within the cells so they basically work themselves to the point of exploding. This is good for getting rid of bio-slimes and biofilm buildup, to a certain extent. The problem is that the energetic input of the enzymes of microbes only need to slightly adjust the action potential in order to achieve their cellular goals. Even when the products are watered down with little active ingredients, very delicate microbes will stand no chance.

So why do these products only work to a certain degree on very built up systems (causing the grower to take more extreme measures)? Well, what happens is actually kind of complex. The buildup in soils is oftentimes very complex. The surface of that buildup is very brittle and tolerant to enzymatic degradation because it is solely focused on outward buildup. The inner part of that buildup is very dense and requires tremendous amounts of energy to break it up. A watered down enzyme product reaches a saturation point (a point in which the active ingredient reaches its maximum capacity in a particular solution) much too quickly and cannot break down the actual root of the problem. This means it can never reach the point where it will actually eat away at the more dense buildup. What you can take from this is that a higher concentration of a more natural enzyme is much more effective than a low concentration of a harsher enzyme product. 

If you wish to establish a microbial environment with balance that will work for you, then you need to be able to not only regulate the community itself but also the potential buildup that can occur if things go awry. As we move into the future and begin to use microbial products more consistently, enzymes are going to play an important role in regulating these systems, making them more user-friendly and safe for even the most novice of farmers or gardeners. 

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