What is Living in Healthy Soil?

"The soil foodweb" refers to the collection of micro-organisms and micro-arthropods in the soil that interact directly or indirectly with plants, decompose organic matter, and/or prey on the organisms that interact with plants. This dynamic living ecosystem — the soil foodweb — is incredibly diverse and made up of organisms that range in size from one-celled bacteria, algae, fungi, and protozoa, to more complex nematodes and arthropods, to earthworms, insects, small vertebrates, and plants.

Although most are not visible to the naked eye, they help soils in numerous ways with their ability to improve soil tilth and make nutrients available to plants. They help sequester nitrogen and other nutrients that might otherwise enter groundwater, and they fix nitrogen from the atmosphere, making it available to plants. These organisms enhance soil aggregation and porosity, increasing infiltration and reducing runoff.

The soil foodweb works from the premise that everything that can eat or be eaten is involved in a cyclical relationship. As these organisms eat, grow, and move through the soil, they aggregate soil and make nutrients available for healthy plants. In this role, the soil foodweb is an integral part of the landscape process.

A healthy soil is full of life! One teaspoon of healthy soil contains millions of beneficial soil microorganisms that include thousands of species of bacteria and fungi. Beneficial soil organisms act like brokers and make nutrients available to plants, help reduce disease and retain nutrients in the soil.

- Excerpted from a website by Marin Soil Solutions.

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