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Benefits of the Soil Food Web

The presence and activity of the soil food web provide a range of benefits to soil health. Learn about those benefits below as they are vital to the success of organic farming. If you'd like a more in-depth look at these benefits find that information in my E-Book, " a Guide to Living Soil and Composting."

Farming Field

Water Capture and Filtration

Through microbial activity and structure building soil has far better water infiltration. During heavy rains healthy living soil will be able to infiltrate water much faster and store that water in pore spaces for later. Through this soil, structure water can drain slowly and either become part of the water table or be slowly released into natural waterways. This means that you find plants to be more drought tolerant as free water is more available and soils will have a higher water holding capacity.

Improved soil biology helps capture water

Reducing Pesticide Needs

Many pests that modern agriculture faces today result from poor soil microbial life. Fusarium, root aphids, fungus gnats or root-knot nematodes are but a few examples of these common pests that plague the farmer. By developing a healthy soil microbiome there are many organisms and conditions that limit and inhibit these pests. Other pests found on the foliage can also be controlled with a liquid application of these biocontrol organisms which are both selective for pests and organic. By eliminating the sources of these pests through natural biocontrol methods you will not only save money but also valuable yield lost previously to pests.

Healthier plants resist pests naturally which means less money spent on fertilisers

Reducing Herbicide Needs

Many of the species we call weeds are pioneer plants that have short lives where seeds are produced as quickly as possible. In natural systems, these plants are found in disturbed soils where rapid ground cover is needed. The longer the soils are undisturbed the fewer weeds you see as other plants begin to take over. The process at work in the soil is the development of soil fungi which can begin to spread out due to the lack of disturbance. The result of higher fungal levels is increased levels of ammonium and a decrease in nitrite levels. This shift causes the weeds to be less successful and the need for herbicides decreases. Taking it a step further through testing your soils the microbiome can be tailored to the needs of your crop so that your microbes provide the best balance of nutrients for the needs of that specific crop

Weeds cant dominate soil managed in a correct way

Reducing Fertiliser needs

The activity of a healthy Soil Microbiome turns organic materials, sands, silts, clays and rock fragments into plant-available forms. The Bacteria and Fungi mine these resources with powerful enzymes and concentrate the nutrients in their bodies. Once a predator consumes and releases these nutrients back into the soil now in a form perfect for plants to use. These minerals are found naturally in your soils and can be unlocked by using a healthy soil microbiome. In practical terms, we are reducing the number of fertilizers annually and increasing profit margins.

Improved soil nutrient cycling means less fertiliser costs

Reduced Erosion of Topsoil

Glomalin is a glue-like substance created by healthy fungi in your soil that glues the soil particles into larger aggregates. This process creates structures that allow water or air to deep into the soils. These are similar to long passageways which are vital to allow water to pass through the soil rather than run off the top. Healthy soil microbes create soils that can infiltrate water at a much higher rate. This means in heavy rain your soils are holding the water rather than letting it wash the top soils away. By holding the water like a sponge the farm will have greater access to water once the dry season begins. Not only do you prevent erosion on your land but you hold that water for your crops for when they need it most.

Improved soil strucutre leads to less tillage

Deeper Roots

The activity of good micro-organisms creates soil structure by building both soil aggregates and pores spaces. The role of Each organism is slightly different. The fungi or bacteria that produce glues bind themselves onto soil matter to form aggregates. Our nematodes and protozoa will move these aggregates while in search of food and by this activity we create a more stable soil structure that allows both deeper air and water infiltration. The earthworm works the soil like a natural plough creating large pathways and inoculating the soil with more beneficial microbes. All of these organisms do the work of preparing the soil for your plants allowing the roots to reach deeper and deeper every year we leave it untilled.

Better soil strucutre allows roots deeper into the soil

Capture and Sequestration of Carbon

The Soils of this planet are a sink for over 2500BnT of carbon where they are stored for many years if undisturbed. Once these soils are disturbed the carbon is released as CO2 which is a greenhouse gas. Having A agricultural system that limits disturbances will allow carbon to be stored in your soils as plants capture CO2 and Fungi hold it in their structures. Through good soil management, you can sequester up to 10 Tones per hectare per year which slows the effect of climate change. Many countries are talking about the power of Caron Credits to help farmers earn income from their good farming practices. While it is difficult to see that happening now it will become increasingly important as we face the climate crisis. Taking the steps today to begin storing carbon and reducing the risks we face from climate disasters may be the best way to ensure stable weather for our future.

No-till practises help to store carbon in the soil

Capture Atmospheric Nitrogen

Through the use of specific cover cropping and bacterial inoculations, you can withdraw from the vast pool of Nitrogen in our atmosphere. Using what we call Nitrogen fixation you can utilise a free and unlimited source of Nitrogen. This process requires some steps to be followed by relying on a relationship between certain plants and nitrogen-fixing bacteria which capture free forms of Nitrogen out of the air. It is then stored in nodules found on the root systems of these plants where it can be accessed. With the current price of Nitrogen, there is no cheaper source than this organically derived form produced in the soils right there for your plants as was intended.

Legumes capture nitrogen from the atmosphere
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