The ultimate goal is a healthy soil, with a fully functioning soil food web. One of the important steps in achieving this is ensuring the correct diet for the microbes which make up the full food web.
The unique and constant interaction between plant roots, bacteria and fungi creates a fantastic symbiosis. Farmers are able to facilitate or limit this interaction through the practices they implement.
The soil food web represents the diversity of life that lives in the soil. Earthworm counts can be used as an indicator of the diversity of life that is present in the soil.
The relationship between plant roots and mycorrhizae is often reduced to just the exchange of nutrients and water, but the relationship goes much deeper. Read this blog to find out about other benefits of this mutualistic relationship.
Arthropods play a significant role in the soil food web. Farmers should value the role they play, and ensure they implement practices which facilitate and encourage a healthy soil food web, including arthropods.
Charles Darwin, the father of earthworm science, once said: “Without the work of this humble creature, who knows nothing of the benefits he confers upon mankind, agriculture, as we know it, would be very difficult, if not wholly impossible”
Protists are a group of microorganisms that did not tick all the boxes to be called bacteria, fungi or nematodes. These microorganisms play a crucial role in the mineralisation process.
A lot more attention has focused on plant parasitic nematodes rather than the beneficial free living nematodes in the soil. Intensive research needs to be conducted so as to better understand the role played by free living nematodes especially in the mineralisation of soil nutrients.
Bacteria are one of the most abundant and widely studied microorganisms in soil. Microbiologists estimate that one teaspoon of soil can contain up to as many as 1-100 million individual bacteria and a hectare can contain up to 10 billion.
The role of fungi is unparalleled in soil health. It is one of the most important groups of micro-organisms in the decomposition cycle and is probably one of the most resilient too.