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Soil is the ultimate dining experience for nature!
"All food webs are fueled by the primary producers: the plants, lichens, moss, photosynthetic bacteria, and algae that use the sun's energy to fix carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Most other soil organisms get energy and carbon by consuming the organic compounds found in plants, other organisms, and waste by-products. A few bacteria, called chemoautotrophs, get energy from nitrogen, sulfur, or iron compounds rather than carbon compounds or the sun.
"As organisms decompose complex materials, or consume other organisms, nutrients are converted from one form to another, and are made available to plants and to other soil organisms. All plants -- grass, trees, shrubs, agricultural crops -- depend on the food web for their nutrition."
The Soil and Water Conservation Society (SWCS) produces an on line version of a basic soil biology overview.
The "Soil Biology Primer" is an introduction to the living component of soil and how it contributes to agricultural productivity, and air and water quality. The Primer includes units describing the soil food web and its relationship to soil health, and units about bacteria, fungi, protozoa, nematodes, arthropods, and earthworms.
The co-author of this booklet is Dr. Elaine Ingham, who developed the techniques for measuring quantitatively the fungi, bacteria, protozoa, and nematodes in compost and soils.
The Soil Foodweb: by E.R. Ingham
"The soil foodweb is important because: Plant productivity increases as soil foodweb complexity increases. Hidden in this simple statement is an incredible wealth of interesting interactions, complex feedbacks, and less-than-obvious subtleties. In order to reduce the cost of growing row crops, herbs, shrubs, orchards, and forests, we need to manage soil organisms. We need to be aware that soil organisms exist, we need to know which ones help plants grow, and which ones harm those plants. In order to manage those organisms, we need to be able to measure them."
See the Soil Foodweb website at:
It's almost time to dig your toes into the loose loamy skin of the earth that is made up of 99% minerals... but where's the poetry in that image?
ENJOYHappy toe wriggling!
LEARNHow healthy is your soil? Does it have a living community of worms, insects and animals cultivating and nourishing it?
MAKE A CHOICEChoices that make a difference in soil health include limiting or stopping the use of pesticides, fertilizers and other harmful chemicals. Positive choices include composting non-contaminated vegetation, shading the soil from direct sunlight with mulch, and returning the leaves of local plants to the soil. Erosion can be stopped with these choices, as well.
MAKE A CHANGEWhat WILL you do today to move toward your goal? Even one small action today makes a difference. And you can add a little tomorrow and the next day... Together we will restore our environment in our community and around the world.
For more articles about CONSERVATION & GARDENINGWhen is a plant a weed?
Controlling Slugs and Snails
California Heritage Gardens
Walk Gently with the Earth
Weather and Temperature are Linked to Landscaping