A Closer Look at Microbes and Soil

All of us are feeling increasing pressure to do more with even less. Every state is discussing restricting phosphorus and fertilizer, and although they are not good for the environment, it also can make it hard to meet our needs in terms of plant growth. So what can be done to help ourselves as well as our plants?

How much fertilizer gets into the plant?

Were you aware that just 40% to 60% of fertilizer that is applied actually gets to the plant, while the rest of it is lost and runs off into the waterways, tied up inside of soil, or volatilized into the air? That is why having healthy soil is so critical to having healthy plants. Functional soil is a type of soil that is embedded with soil microbes and organic matter that water together in order to hold nutrients into the soil and also convert nutrients contained in the soil.

A symbiotic relationship is formed between the plant and beneficial soil microbes. The plant, in fact, exerts up to 30% of its energy into the root one in order to produce food for microbes. The microbes, in turn, protect plants against stress and feed the plant as well by holding and converting nutrients inside the soil.

What are the various kinds of soil microbes?

 

Soil microbes come in five different types: nematodes, protozoa, fungi, actinomycetes, and bacteria. Each of these types of microbes has its won job to give plant and soil health a boost.

Bacteria

Bacteria is the critical workforce for soil. They are the last stage for breaking nutrients down and releasing them into the plant’s root zone. The Food and Agricultural Organization, in fact, once stated that bacteria might be the most valuable of all life forms contained in the soil.

Actinomycetes

These were classified as fungi in the past, and in the soil act in a similar way. However, some are predators and can harm the plant. Others that live inside the soil act as antibiotics for plants.

Fungi

Fungi, like bacteria, lives inside the root zone as well and helps make nutrients available to the plants. Mycorrhizae, for example, is a type of fungi that help to facilitate nutrient and water uptake by the plants and roots to provide nutrients such as amino acids and sugars.

Protozoa

These are larger microbes that love be surrounded by and consume bacteria. Nutrients, in acts, that bacteria eat are leased when the protozoa then eat the bacteria in turn.

Nematodes

These are microscopic worms that live inside and around the plant. Some of them are predators and others are beneficial. They secrete nutrients into the plant and eat pathogenic nematodes. 

Do you want to dig deeper into soil science?

The natural world contains a complex balance between soil microbes that are referred to as the soil food web. Microbes, animals, and plants are all like instruments that are part of an orchestra. Each of them plays an essential part in life’s natural symphony. Even one player being out of tun can cause the entire soil food web to suffer. However, the results are truly beautiful when all is in good order.

 

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