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Dianne and Ian Haggerty say they’ve learned a lot from Australian microbiologist Walter Jehne, who talked to them about the importance of root-to-shoot ratios.
“It was our understanding originally that what you saw on top of the ground was pretty much reflected in the root system below. But we’ve found that’s certainly not necessarily the case, as plants show different growth habits with more ecological focus,” Dianne says. “A lot of root structure can be there with a very small plant.”
When plants are putting a lot of investment into root development it’s setting itself up for future growth potential, so that it can handle shocks or stresses that might be happening later on in the season, whether it’s a dry or cold spell, soil toxins or pH changes, she says.
“At the end of the season, the plant’s got so much capacity that if a season does get dry it can actually finish growing really well,” she says, quoting Jehne’s teachings. “That’s something we’ve really noticed consistently, is that every year, no matter how poor the season is, the grain quality is always maintained.
“When you look under a microscope and see some of those air pores being created, that’s what effectively does happen over the whole root mass and you can rebuild a sponge into the soil, which is something that Walter talks about with great passion. Water infiltration in western Australia is really critical. There’s a lot of warm, sunny days there and…