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.
We all know that in order to get different results, you need to do something differently. You cannot expect to get different results if you carry on doing the same things over and over again. The first key to achieving healthy soils is in changing your mindset.
I think the concept of soil life can be challenging for some farmers, as it is not something that they can see. They can’t see the actual organisms we are speaking about, and they can’t see the direct benefit that they provide.
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”
In essence it entails learning from what happens in nature and implementing it in our intensive agricultural systems, so that we can benefit from the services that soil provides in nature.
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.
Soil respiration has been extensively promoted as a simple, holistic measure of microbial activity in the soil. Simply capture and measure the amount of carbon dioxide produced by soil and you will have an idea of the metabolic activity of the life in the soil.
Active carbon is the part of soil organic matter that is readily available as an energy source for soil life. It is a very good indicator of soil health, responding much faster to changes in management practices than most other indicators.
“The soil is the only stomach that the plant has”. I had never thought of soil in this manner before, and found it to be an interesting perspective.