Tillled Farm Soil Under the Microscope - What is missing?
Most every tilled soil will look like this. Reading about it is not enough- see it. In tilled soils, there will be bits of solid grains of sand, silt, and clay, all of which are not plant available foods. Most of all the sources of plant foods are destroyed. The refreshing cycles of nutrients gone. There are the total nutrients (locked in the solid mineral/rock) but plants need the mobile soluble foods. (400xTM)
Forest Soil: Rich with Life
Depicted here are various microbes, fungal strands (hyphae), testate amoebae (egg-like), and a fungal feeding nematode (slide 2). Quantities of fungi like these are not common in disturbed soils and earlier plant succession. There are numerous smaller organisms not depicted at this magnification. (100xTM) Fungal-feeding nematodes do exactly what they are described as, they eat fungi- nothing else. Root-feeders are rare or never present in systems with healthy plant soils because the food web interactions prevent them from feeding on plants.
Beneficial Nematodes vs. Root-feeders
May be the most abundant animals on Earth! Every cubic centimeter one passes by has nematodes. This makes attention to this group especially significant. Many beneficial nematodes can be easy to get back with the exception of the fungal feeders and predatory nematodes that naturally control crop damaging root-feeders. Applying toxic chemicals and tilling will often wipe them out- allowing root-feeders to multiply faster. Root-feeders have knobs that allow them to puncture into plant cell walls to feed.Get beneficial nematodes to outnumber root-feeders.
Bacteria and Fungi: The Base of the Food Web
Bacteria and fungi will hold nutrients- but protozoa will cycle plant available foods! As foundational species, certain groups of bacteria and fungi will make huge impacts on energy flow and behaviors of other insects.
The other alternative is to lose the sustainable growing by leaching! (And lost $$$ down the stream...)
There are many issues with water quality across the globe and in the United States which are still pressing upon the world (such as the dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico). Many of these issues begin with agricultural sources. The costly leaching of inorganic conventional chemicals can be as high as 80% and holds free water from the soil biology to grow.
The answers to these problems are found in the examples of foundational and keystone species set in place by nature. These include the microbes, the animal and insect life which speed the recovery of the land. When these species interact, their associations transport other species and facilitate growth.
Microbiology groups far outnumber those of other species taxa. In fact, the vast majority of biodiversity on Earth is microscopic. This illustrates how significant a small measure of change to microbes can improve growth. Not just a few species. Data shows that biodiversity reduces issues with the health of ecosystems.
The importance of soil microbiology is to build structure which retains water and nutrients, therefore improving pore spaces for air, and using up organic matter. The healthiest ecosystems on Earth have a vast richness of plant beneficial microorganisms and never once were any fertilizers applied for fertility, no toxic sprays were used. The layers of biodiversity enables this energy return. Plants in the agriculture field can reach a full potential removing the invasive competition of weeds, adding beneficial soil biology, remove plant stressing enemies in the soil and by helping roots to grow deep gaining more water! Beneficial soil biology helps build the aggregates for soil structure which retains more water and plant foods.
Why are they still standing?
My aim is to help you find the valuable resources which have gone missing, life in the soil which makes plants grow and to offer plants the native life they require.
There are more useful microbes for plants than others- keep reading and viewing the slides to learn!
From experience- from looking under the microscope, any soil which has been touched by state forestry, loggers or any farming has nothing near the natural undisturbed microbiology richness seen in the remaining old growth forests of today. It can be replenished! Doing this will not only help humanity, but the abundance of fish, wildlife and everything that needs the food web- showing the dominion of man and nature can be lasting.