What does living soil actually mean?
Until now most of us have not managed our soils with biology in mind; the life in soils requires the same attention as above-ground biodiversity. Biodiverse soils have potential benefits beyond healthy crops and higher yields: soil has contributed to a number of recent discoveries, including new forms of antibiotics and anti-depressants.
Living soil is therefore a soil embedded with organic matter and soil microbes that work together to hold onto nutrients in the soil and convert nutrients locked in the soil.
What are the different types of soil microbes?
Beneficial soil microbes form symbiotic relationships with the plant. In fact, the plant will exert as much as 30% of its energy to the root zone to make food for microbes. In return those microbes not only protect the plant from stress, but also feed the plant by converting and holding nutrients in the soil.
There are five different types of soil microbes: bacteria, actinomycetes, fungi, protozoa and nematodes. Each of these microbe types has a different job to boost soil and plant health.
Bacteria is the crucial workforce of soils. They are the final stage of breaking down nutrients and releasing them to the root zone for the plant. In fact, the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) once said “Bacteria may well be the most valuable of life forms in the soil.”
Actinomycetes were once classified as fungi, and act similarly in the soil. However, some actinomycetes are predators and will harm the plant while others living in the soil can act as antibiotics for the plant.
Like bacteria, fungi also lives in the rootzone and helps make nutrients available to plants. For example, Mycorrhizae is a fungi that facilitate water and nutrient uptake by the roots and plants to provide sugars, amino acids and other nutrients.
Protozoa are larger microbes that love to consume and be surrounded by bacteria. In fact, nutrients that are eaten by bacteria are released when protozoa in turn eat the bacteria.
Nematodes are microscopic worms that live around or inside the plant. Some nematodes are predators while others are beneficial, eating pathogenic nematodes and secreting nutrients to the plant.
Our blends of ingredients help improve your container grown plant soils by incorporating soil microbes. For more information, see our Ingredients page.