A study managed by the Missouri Department of Conservation
(MDC) was conducted with SumaGrow® on the Ionia Ridge
Conservation Area in Missouri. This 233 acre area lies within
the Hi Lonesome Focus Area for recovery of the greater prairie
chicken and native habitat for other grassland species. The
study on this area focused on interests in pursuing the potential
for soil microbial products to improve success of native tallgrass
seedling establishment and also to evaluate the effect on stand
persistence. This area was an active row crop and cattle grazing
farm prior to the acquisition by the Missouri Conservation
Department in 2008.
The main parameters of this study focused on the differences in
the physical and biological properties of the soil between control
and SumaGrow® treatment groups within the Conservation
Area: When comparing soil treated with a product containing
SumaGrow® with untreated plots, the treated soil experienced
a 15+ percent increase in soil moisture potential. How does this
benefit the grower struggling with drought or frustrated by
soggy soil? The benefit for both is that healthy soil holds water.
Rain and moisture are captured by the soil instead of remaining
on the surface to volatize off or run-off into streams and
waterways, most likely taking valuable top soil and nutrients
with it. For the grower who is struggling with muddy, over wet
soil, fertile ground dries out quicker as the water penetrates the
soil instead of remaining on the surface, slowing down planting
or damaging grasses and turf.
Additionally, the study found a 26 percent reduction in soil
compaction in the SumaGrow® treated soil. Reduced soil
compaction means that the soil is softer and more aerated, so plant roots can grow more easily and reach deeper to tap the
water and nutrients held within the subsoil.
In addition, this study found that SumaGrow® treated soil
contained a higher functional group diversity index in relation
to the microbial populations within the treatment areas.
This can be taken to mean that the SumaGrow® treated areas
had a more balanced microbial population, leading to more
productive soil in the end.
The mean functional group diversity indices for the treatment
groups were significantly higher for the SumaGrow® treated
groups. The 1 gallon per acre rate versus the control had the
highest mean functional group diversity (mean = 1.61, p = 0.0099*),
the 1/2 gallon per acre rate versus the control had the second
highest mean functional group diversity (mean = 1.56, p = 0.034*),
and there was no significant interaction between the SumaGrow®
treatment groups in relation to mean functional group diversity
(mean = 1.37, p = 0.47).
The mean fungal bacterial ratios for the treatment groups were
significantly higher for the SumaGrow® treated groups. The 1
gallon per acre rate versus the control had the highest mean
fungal bacterial ratio (mean = 0.27, p = 0.0029*), the 1/2 gallon
per acre rate versus the control had the second highest mean
fungal bacterial ratio (mean = 0.26, p = 0.0054*), and there was no significant interaction between the SumaGrow® treated groups
in relation to mean fungal bacterial ratios (mean = 0.15, p = 0.33).
In relation to soil compaction, measured in pounds per square
inch, the SumaGrow® treatment at 1 gallon (mean = 7.67 psi) and
½ a gallon (mean = 8.08 psi) per acre were significantly lower
than the control (p = < 0.0001) which had the highest pressure
readings (mean = 11 psi).
In relation to soil moisture, obtained from a moisture probe, the
SumaGrow® treatment at 1 gallon (mean = 61.67, p = 0.056) and
½ a gallon (mean = 62.5, p = 0.035) per acre were significantly
higher than the control which had the lowest moisture readings
(mean = 54.2).