Benefits of healthy, living soil.
You already have a lawn person, a tree person, an irrigation person and maybe a few others. Do you really need a soil person? More than you know. In the age of synthetic, bagged fertilizers, we have forgotten the importance of fertility in soil. When soil is treated properly, fertilizers are not necessary. This sounds impossible based on what we've been taught about gardening our whole lives, but think about natural areas. Wilderness areas healthy plant growth where no fertilizer is applied. The plants in these areas survive episodes of drought. How is it possible? There is a whole world beneath the soil surface. Microscopic organisms that have evolved with plants since the beginning of time, provide plants with the right environment for healthy growth. The key to healthy plants is creating the proper environment for this microbiological ecosystem. Feed the soil, and it will feed the plants.
Components of Healthy Soil
|Parent Material||This is the mineral component of soil. It is derived from decomposed rock.|
|Organic Matter||Organic matter is the remains of plants, animals and byproducts. It can be completely decomposed, like when compost is applied, or it could be mulch or fallen leaves. Organic matter is the food source for soil microorganisms.|
|Water||Even in the driest soils, there is some water. It's not always available to plants, but it's always there.|
|Oxygen||Plant roots need oxygen, just like the leaves do.|
|Microbiology||Microscopic organisms have evolved with plants to provide all the nutrients that are needed for healthy growth. In the right balance, microbes keep plants growing and healthy without the need for synthetic fertilizers or toxic garden chemicals.|
|Bacteria||Bacteria are an important part of soil ecosystem. Bacteria decomposes organic matter and captures the nutrients it contained. Some can also break down pollutants in soil. Bacteria exist in larger numbers than any other organism.|
|Fungi||Fungi are also decomposers of organic matter. They can decompose more complex materials than most bacteria. Fungi can also play an important role in suppressing plant diseases.|
|Protozoa||Protozoa are predators in the soil. They eat primarily bacteria. As the protozoa consume bacteria, they release any excess nutrient they don't need for themselves in a form that plants can use.|
|Nematodes||There are no nematodes in the photo, but they are also predators. They eat bacteria, fungi and for some species, other nematodes.|
Beyond just the soil, the entire ecosystem of your yard, garden or landscape is important. Beneficial insects help manage pests without the need for toxic pesticides and many help pollinate. Birds prefer habitat in a environment free of herbicides and pesticides. All systems work together to improve the health of your living environment.