Soil Biology - Enzymes Part II: Typical Enzymes

Typical Enzymes - What’s the deal?

So maybe you have heard of enzymes before. Heck, maybe even you have tried a few that are available to the average consumer. Let’s just take a stab at what you have more than likely experienced. First and foremost, the product you purchased was probably EXTREMELY expensive. It probably cost you upwards of 20-50 cents per dose (a single gallon). It was more than likely sold to you because you have some sort of imbalance or buildup in your system and its sole job was for sanitization and cleaning. You may have even used it to help combat bioaccumulation (like bio-slime) in your reservoir or root-rot in your plants. No matter what you used it for, you more than likely ended up using anywhere from 2x-10x the recommended dosage in order to actually achieve the effect you needed. This means an even higher cost per dose and more $$$ out of your pocket! Even then, it might have not fixed the problem! What a nightmare! What’s going on? 

Oftentimes liquid enzyme products only have 5-10% active ingredients. So, in essence, you’re paying for a watered down product. On top of that, the active ingredient in these products is often unnamed; so what enzymes are even there? Are they plant-specific enzymes whose job is to passively assist in natural chemical reactions, or are they run of the mill commercial enzymes that are essentially industrial floor cleaner. The former almost never occurs and the latter can have some serious detrimental effects. 

If the enzymes you are applying are not plant-specific enzymes whose job is to PASSIVELY assist in natural chemical reactions, some serious issues can occur if you apply them to “living systems” (systems containing and utilizing living biological inputs like microbes and fungi). In “dead systems” (purely synthetic systems with no beneficial biology), traditional enzymes can be very effective because their only role is to breakdown/strip salt-based fertilizer inputs from your system. However, in living systems, the application of a strong traditional enzyme is like dropping a nuclear bomb. Yes, in your containers it will help pull out bioslime and plant waste, but every single living microorganism in the container will be dead on contact. Any amount of time you have spent brewing teas and adjusting the microbial and fungal balance in your system you can throw it directly out the window. If you’re adding it to your teas, what you’ve basically done is brewed a bucket of dead bodies. 

All of this can seem very alarming. You may even be saying “so why would anybody use enzymes, it seems all they do is bad unless you’re in a dead system”. At this stage it seems like you may have a point. So next time I’ll discuss what a good enzyme product is and what benefit it can provide to any system. 


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