Dominion Organics has three divisions, the first being Agroganic Products. Agroganic Products has offices in both Canada and the United States. Agroganic Products has developed a line of organic fertilizers, soil amendments and beneficial soil innoculants based on many years of laboratory research, field trials and work with commercial growers. These are products that get real results in the real world and are available to the home gardener, market gardeners and large commercial growers. Agroganic Products is committed to developing a range of products that will assist organic growers in their quest to grow better tasting, more nutritious, higher yielding crops.
The Second component of Dominion Organics is Dominion Plant Laboratory. Out of the unfunded research and development conducted by Dominion Plant Laboratory, has come the products available through Agroganic Products. The research and development has spanned over two decades allowing us to work with some of the top scientists and growers in the pioneering certified organic vegetable production industry in North America. Our research is on going and we continue to work as a general consultant to the organic industry with a specialization in organic greenhouse vegetable production. We have also had considerable experience working with conventional hydroponic greenhouse vegetable growers. As a consultant, we have helped growers work through the organic certification process, develop fertility input programs and serve to help growers as they face a plethora of problems in their production programs.
The third division of Dominion Organics is that we own and operate a 10,000 square foot commercial certified organic greenhouse operation in Washington State. Certified organic cucumbers and tomatoes are grown and marketed locally. The commercial greenhouse operation is where Agroganic's products are put to real life tests. Most of the organic greenhouse growers we work with are smaller, low tech, family run operations and therefore replicating their growing conditions helps us to provide better products to serve the agricultural community and to be better consultants.
Dominion Plant Laboratory started in Langley B.C. Canada doing product research and development for the agricultural market with an emphasis on the hydroponic greenhouse industry. Over a period of 7 years, 21 products were developed, field tested and brought to market.
In 2009, Dominion Plant Lab and Dominion Organics moved to Washington State. During this period of time, Dominion Plant Lab began intensive research into certified organic crop production with an emphasis on organic greenhouse crop production.The research began by attempting to apply the well researched and developed high production hydroponic greenhouse crop fertility input model to an organic input model. The initial results were disappointing. Then, through a series of learning experiences from both laboratory research and extensive field trials, many flaws were uncovered in the conventional fertility input theories as they apply to plants grown organically in soil. Howard Resh in his book Hydroponic Food Production, makes a statement that summarizes the primary fertility input assumption behind both hydroponic and conventional field agriculture. He states as follows: There is no physiological difference between plants grown hydroponically and those grown in soil. In soil both the organic and inorganic components must be decomposed into inorganic elements, such as calcium, magnesium, nitrogen, potassium, phosphorus, iron and others before they are available to the plant (pg. 39 5th Ed).
Thus, this view, which is taught in all agricultural colleges through out North America, espouses that all matter in soil, whether from weathered mineral fractions, decayed plant and animal residues or manures must decompose into specific inorganic mineral fractions such as phosphate, nitrate, etc. before a plant is able to absorb the mineral nutrient. Thus, as this reasoning goes, hydroponic and conventional field fertility practices are merely by- passing the organic and mineral decomposition stage supplying the plant directly the mineral fractions plants require for growth.
However, prior to World War II, there was a plethora of research which proved beyond a shadow of a doubt, plant root systems absorb directly complex, whole organic molecules and incorporates these molecules, molecularly unchanged into plant tissues. Thus, contrary to the above statement, there are significant and profound physiological differences between organically grown plants and those grown hydroponically or by conventional field agricultural methods. These differences have been easily and readily observed by visitors who have taken tours of hydroponic tomato greenhouses and afterward viewed an organic soil greenhouse operation. The differences are clearly seen in the plant color, the nature of plant growth and development and definitive differences in plant tissue texture. However, more importantly, there is a vast difference in the taste and smell of the organically grown crops.
These discoveries prompted a whole new view of plant culture and plant nutrition and the kinds of natural/organic fertility input products that might encourage plants to grow organically in a soil environment. In organic soil culture, the plant system is driven by the biology of the soils micro-organisms. Any truly organic plant culture must create an environment favorable to the growth and development beneficial microbiological soil organisms. We have observed many organic programs, that have only considered the plants nutritional needs (applying conventional nutrient input strategies to organic material inputs), independent of the needs of the soil organisms that work in association the plant root system and as a result, undermine the integrity of the soil, the soil micro flora, the plant root system and ultimately the crop desired to be grown.
Plants grown in an organic soil develop a very different kind of root system than plants grown in hydroponic or conventional soil culture. Thus, organically grown plants nutrient and water uptake differs from plants fed with soluble inorganic fertilizers. Alex Podolinsky, a Biodynamic grower, author, lecturer from Australia has noted the differences in conventional fertility input practices and organic practices. He observed that in natural, humus fed plants there are two kinds of root systems, one that provides water for the plant and one that takes up nutrients in the form of humus colloids. He notes, plant water up- take is performed by the thicker fleshier roots and in humus fed plants nutrients are extracted from the soil by the fine white root hairs. Furthermore, he notes that in conventional soluble inorganic fertilizer programs, both water and fertilizer uptake occurs through the water root system. Uptake of soluble fertilizers through the water roots causes an unnatural accumulation of fertilizer salts in the plants tissue. The plant attempts to compensate for the fertilizer salt accumulation by diluting the salts down by taking up additional water, and in so, doing takes up more soluble fertilizer exasperating the problem yet further. As a result, an unnatural cell expansion occurs due the plant cell being bloated with excess water and the accumulation of un-metabolized fertilizer salts. Plants fed in this manner are lower in nutritional quality, have a lower shelf life and are plants, which are vulnerable to fungal diseases and insect attack. Podolinsky has further noted that organic growers who use raw manures and other organic fertilizers may be supplying, as is the conventional grower, soluble fertility inputs which are taken up by the water roots and are thus experiencing the same kinds of problems encountered in conventional crops. If we are to understand what is being said here, a truly organic fertility program is radically different that what has been commonly taught. This means that organic growers require a very different approach to plant and soil cultural practices and as a result require very different kinds of fertility inputs to assist nature in growing strong, healthy, disease resistant, nutritionally dense food crops. Dominion Plant Lab is continuing to research and develop products which assist the grower to work with natures biology.