I may have been taught at some time that plant roots must absorb inorganic soluble salts into their roots, but perhaps emptying loads of manure from our chicken houses convinced me that plants eat manure. At any rate, I now understand that the microorganisms in the soil convert the organic materials into inorganic soluble salts.
In a typical commercial hydroponic system the medium for growing food is an inorganic material similar to sand or gravel. The nutrients are a careful mixture of inorganic commercial chemistry, purchased many times from distant lands. This is possibly a good temporary solution to running out of vast fertile fields outdoors. In theory, this method eliminates weeds, insects and diseases by eliminating the "middle-microorganisms" that operate in the soil.
The problem that I am confronted with is that this merely creates another source of misplaced waste material, requiring extensive energy-intensive transportaion, distribution and packaging. It is still my basic premise that ...
WE CAN PROVIDE THE PLANET WITH AMPLE FOOD FROM JUST OUR ORGANIC WASTE ALONE, and
IT CAN BE DONE ON A LOCAL OR NEIGHBORHOOD-SIZED SCALE ...
This is where you may become uncomfortable.
The folks who are producing plants with organic hydroponic technology have been tending their crops in their basements. Now that "medical marijuana" has come "out of the basement", so to speak, we will gain the benefit of what they have been learning. Strange as it may seem, at this time, these growers may be holding the keys to our survival with "sustainable agriculture".
Remember the instruction to provide your worm farm with 70% moisture so your herd of worms can breathe through their skins? Well, guess what has been percolating down through the bins into the containers below. INORGANIC SOLUBLE SALTS that the microorganisms have converted from your organic wastes while being transported around in the guts of worms!
My friend, Richard, had his VermiJuice tested by MSU and they told him that his Potassium and Phosphorus tested "off the charts". So how about the highly touted Nitrogen? My usual answer is that microorganisms breathe in Nitrogen from the air for about four years, making the small test number into a large test number over a long period of time. It appears that a better answer can be obtained by adding some ingredients to the VermiJuice and bubbling air through it. So far we are playing with blackstrap molasses, fish emulsion, bat guano, etc. Stay tuned, and let us know what you have discovered!