The major key to good soil management

The major key to good soil management

The major key to good soil management.

The major key to good soil management.

The key to effective soil management is an understanding of soil ecosystems. The management of soil’s physical and chemical components was our primary focus in the past, but current botanical and microbiological research has shown that healthy, productive plant life depends on huge, complex soil ecosystems.

This finding has altered how we think about agricultural management. The “industrial” approach, which prioritized the agricultural system in terms of the time and resource management required for product production, was formerly used. We’re now using a “biological” management paradigm. This also entails enhancing soil fertility by controlling the soil ecology.

Living Soil

Compared to what lives on the earth’s surface, there are far more individual living forms in the soil. This covers each and every surface-dwelling plant, animal, and insect. For instance, up to 1 million fungi and 1 to 4 billion single-celled bacteria may be found in one teaspoon of soil. Under ideal circumstances, the number of soil algae per teaspoon may reach 100,000.

In the soil, there are tiny organisms such as bacteria, protozoa, certain fungus, and algae. Nematodes, arthropods, and bigger creatures like rodents, earthworms, ants, snails, spiders, mites, and several other worms and insects live in the soil. The bulk of advantages to plants come from tiny living forms.

Individual species of each sort of tiny living form exist, and these species serve various purposes. Only a very tiny number of bacteria really cause illness, despite the fact that we frequently assume all germs are “evil” or cause disease.

The “good” bacteria in the soil carry out a variety of tasks required for plant growth. These include the decomposition of plant poisons; nitrogen-fixing; nitrogen cycling; defense against dangerous fungus; recycling of dead plants and animals.


The term “soil fertility” has evolved to refer to the variety of living forms present in the soil. It is important to keep in mind that biodiversity does not guarantee that soil is fertile enough to support the desired crop. Different habitats are needed for different kinds of crops.

A distinct environment is needed for annual field crops than for woody perennials, for example. To get the majority of their nutrients, most plants need an environment that is dominated by bacteria. The majority of these plants depend on symbiotic fungus for certain nutrients, however, an analysis of the soil life where annuals flourish shows that bacteria predominate over fungi.

On the other hand, woody perennials like berry bushes need a soil ecosystem that is dominated by fungi. Similar to their natural home, which is forest soil, fungus predominate over bacteria in this situation.

To encourage the proper sort of biodiversity in the soil for the crops, these two kinds of ecosystems need different management strategies and compost types. In Unit 2, these various management strategies are covered.


Life forms may be categorized in a variety of ways. By its type—plant or animal—is one of the most typical. Following that, we categorize them into several groupings, including bacteria, fungus, nematodes, mites, and so on.

In soil ecosystems, there is a wide variety of food sources and roles among these groupings. Nematodes are one illustration of this. They may consume bacteria, fungus, root-knot nematodes, other living things (predatory nematodes), plants, or other living things.

By categorizing ecosystems according to what they consume, or trophic levels, we can classify individual living forms more easily and get more knowledge for management strategies.

From the primary producers (First Trophic Level) through the waste processors (Fifth Trophic Level), the trophic levels are discussed. The main participants at these stages are shown in the following in a condensed manner.


The first trophic level is producers. All photosynthesizers, or living things that make food from sunshine, fall under this category. Although we often consider of plants as producers, other organisms, such as blue-green algae, may also be found in soil. For all other trophic levels, producers are the source of food.


The two main categories of soil organisms that consume photosynthesizers are:
Nematodes that feed on plants are parasitic plants that tunnel into plant roots. They eat the nutrients that the plant produces and distribute to its roots.

• Mycorrhizal fungi: These are fungi that develop symbiotic relationships with plants by growing into their roots. The plant gives them part of the sugar it produces in exchange for them absorbing and moving nutrients from the soil to the plant.


These creatures in the soil consume first- and second-trophic-level organisms. They fall into the following two categories:

• Fungal Feeders: These include mites and nematodes that feed on fungi. They consume both the feeders of fungal waste and the fungal symbionts of plants.
• Bacterial Feeders: These include ciliates, flagellates, amoebae, and nematodes that feed on bacteria. They consume every kind of bacterium.

Superior Predators

Lower-level predators are consumed by higher-level predators. Predatory nematodes, mites, and arthropods are included in this category.

Waste processors and Decomposers

The soil life known as decomposers consumes dead plant and animal matter. They create humus out of the dead stuff. The deceased members of all trophic levels, including their own, are consumed by this group. The wastes produced by each component of the soil ecosystem are consumed by waste processors. They are in charge of generating several plant nutrients.

These several groupings come together to form the soil food web. This is a complicated, interwoven system that depends on one another to survive and thrive. Understanding these intricate interactions is necessary for soil management.

Maintaining constant growth in the soil is the first good management activity. Some of the organisms in the food chain are utterly reliant on plants to survive. The process of reintroducing plant and animal waste to the soil is beneficial. Utilizing green manure crops, incorporating agricultural leftovers, and/or using compost are all ways to do this.

Herbicide usage has harmful impacts, including those that eradicate soil life. Compared to plants, herbicides are far more efficient in killing bacteria.

The availability of many plant nutrients is hampered when the majority of the bacteria are eliminated from the soil food web. Compaction of the soil and tillage have a detrimental impact as well. The symbiotic fungus colonies that provide the plants with a significant percentage of their nutrients are destroyed by these acts.


Plants gain from the soil life food chain. These advantages may be direct, such as when a symbiotic fungus provides nutrients to the plant, or indirect, such as when a collection of waste processors prevents toxins from accumulating in the soil. The key advantages of the soil food web for plants are:

Builds soil composition

The soil life will create a stable structure if there is enough oxygen, moisture, and food available. Due to the porosity nature of this construction, rain and irrigation water may percolate into the soil rather than collect and evaporate. Additionally, it permits a gas exchange with the environment, which replenishes the oxygen that is depleted in the soil and is required by soil life and plant roots.

The burrowing activity of both relatively big and tiny-sized organisms in the soil produces pore spaces. The soil’s microbial and fungal inhabitants produce polysaccharides, which are gooey molecules that hold the structure together. A key factor in the stabilization of soil structure is fungi.

They penetrate the soil through hyphae, which resemble thread-like growths. The mycelium produced by these hyphae forms a thick network that keeps the soil aggregates together.

disease prevention

A healthy variety of living things in the soil may prevent the growth of pathogenic organisms. This is accomplished passively via the growth of benign and helpful organisms that fill every soil niche. This population density hinders the growth of pathogenic organisms.

Another way that certain soil fungal species control the disease is by producing antibiotics that kill off particular bacteria, some of which might harm plants.
Some fungi that harm plants may also be suppressed by helpful microorganisms.
This was shown by a Japanese study on the fusarium infestation of melon crops. One year, a region in Japan that farms melons saw a significant crop loss.

They say that one local farmer was unharmed. He interplanted leeks with melons in order to grow them traditionally. Researchers discovered that melons were shielded from the fusarium by a kind of bacterium that thrived around the leek roots.

The bacteria devoured the fungal growth until it was totally gone when the fusarium spores began to proliferate.
enhances the retention of nitrogen and other nutrients

The capacity of the soil to store nutrients will grow as the number of organisms increases. The physical capacity of humus and clay to keep nutrients is limited, and water circulating through the soil may drain off the nutrients.

The soil organisms take up nutrients and store them in their bodies or cells. Nutrients are progressively released when soil life excretes metabolic wastes, and they are also released when they die and are eaten by decomposers or predators. Excess nutrients are released by the decomposers and predators, which enter the soil food web.

mineralizes food sources

While most soil nutrients may be absorbed by plants, not all of them can be used by plants. The nutrients must be in a form that plants can use. The soil life metabolizes nutrients that are not accessible to plants, eats them, and excretes them as waste. These wastes include nutrients that certain plants may absorb and use.

The nitrogen cycle in soil is one illustration of this. This is the process by which various bacteria consume nitrogen molecules in various forms, leading to the development of a form that is useful to plants—nitrate. Even soluble nutrients are kept in check by the ongoing processes of absorption, metabolism, and release in the soil.

The chelation of nutrients by soil organisms is another example. Plants are unable to absorb certain metallic ions. These ions may be taken up by soil organisms, who can then combine them with an organic molecule (chelation).
The plant may then quickly absorb and use the metallic nutrients.

the breakdown of plant poisons

Plants are poisoned by some of the waste products released during the ingestion of plants and animals. They contain tannins and phenols. Plant poisons produced by plant waste processors are absorbed and transformed into non-toxic chemicals when a variety of soil organisms is present. This avoids the accumulation of poisons that are present in nature.

Numerous hazardous agricultural chemicals may also be broken down by soil organisms. When the proper organisms that can metabolize the particular contaminants are present in the soil, this occurs naturally.

Additionally, by introducing the proper organism and a food supply, the soil has been remedied.
produces hormones for plant development.

Plants may absorb certain plant growth hormones produced by soil organisms.
These hormones promote branching and root development. The auxin family of growth hormones serves as an illustration of this.

These hormones are found in earthworm castings and promote the development of roots. Studies have revealed that when auxins are present in the soil, plants will develop a considerably larger root mass.
enhancing crop quality

There hasn’t been much research on how soil life might improve crop quality. Crop quality has traditionally been characterized by its size (big), uniformity, and absence of flaws. We have just lately begun to investigate the relationship between soil quality and food flavor and nutritional content.

According to research, there is a correlation between high nutrient content and a diverse range of soil life. According to this research, foods cultivated in soils with a high biodiversity level have higher levels of protein, vitamins, and minerals. Additionally, they have greater concentrations of antioxidants, which aid to fight cancer and aging.


It is becoming more well acknowledged that the biological components of the soil ecosystem contribute positively to soil fertility. The tiny bacteria, fungus, protozoa, and algae play a significant role in enhancing soil fertility.

These organisms are more diverse, which increases productivity, but they are particular to certain kinds of crops.
By grouping together different creatures that feed in the same manner, ecosystems may be structured.

Food is produced by the first trophic level of producers via photosynthesis, and they also provide food for the other trophic levels. Herbivores, which consume the producers, make up the second trophic level.

Predators that consume herbivores make up the third trophic level, while the higher predators that consume other predators make up the fourth.

At the fifth trophic level, the decomposers convert all the dead organisms into humus. All of these living things make up the soil food web.

Plants gain from the soil food web in a variety of ways, including the improvement of nutrient retention, the creation of a solid soil structure, and the suppression of the disease.

Organisms in the soil food chain alter nutrients so that plants can absorb them. The web generates plant growth hormones and breaks down naturally existing poisons. According to a preliminary study, high soil biodiversity and high plant nutrition content are related.


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