Microbes are living, breathing organisms and are very important indicators of our soil health. Knowing what soil microbes eat, the conditions they thrive well in and the temperature their most active in the soil ecosystem is of importance to every farmer.
Microbes compete with plants for nutrients like phosphorus, potassium, nitrogen and other micronutrients. They also feed on vitamins, amino acids and other soil compounds. Their nutrients are primarily derived from the organic matter, but they give back and perform other functions that benefit healthy and productive plant life.
1. Organic matter
These are natural substance such as decomposed leaves, wood chips, shed roots and grass clipping. Organic matter has different nutrient levels especially nitrogen. Microbes need carbon to live as well as they need the nitrogen contained in organic matter. Therefore, the carbon to nitrogen ratio (C: N) is of importance to consider in terms of organic matter.
Organic matter with low nitrogen slow the breakdown rate than organic matter with higher nitrogen levels. Microbes will consume the nitrogen element first leaving the rest undecomposed. Therefore, the rule is to choose organic matter with higher levels of nitrogen.
2. Soil Ph. Factor
Microbes can endure a wide range of soil Ph. levels. However, bacterial favors a neutral to slightly soil up to 8.0. When the soil ph. drops below 6.0, fungi takes over and dominate as bacteria finds it less favorable. It is important to adjust soil ph. to be neutral to favor survival of all kind of microbes into our soil.
Soil microbe activities are dependent on soil temperature. There are three different temperature ranges that microbes are most active:
ü Psychrophile: active in temperatures less than 68 degrees
ü Mesophiles: temperature range between 77 to 95 degrees. This makes up the largest group that soil microbes are very active.
ü Thermophiles: active in temperature from 115 to 150 degrees.
Mesophiles contains the primary group and is of great influence on soil microbe’s activity. Areas where the temperature are warm most of the year, organic matter are consumed very fast hence, the release of nutrients into the soil is good.
4. Soil Moisture
Just like temperature levels triggers different soil microbes, so does soil moisture. Persistent, dam conditions will promote the growth of algae while hindering microbes that thrive in sunny location. Soil requires deep watering with 4 inches deep wet. Shallow watering means only the surface is wet which dries out quickly and this hinders soil microbe’s activities.
5. Oxygen level
Compacted soil will have less oxygen and less water holding capacity. Low oxygen soils will quickly deplete what oxygen it has and lower the soil microbe’s level.
Modern advancement has allowed us to apply specific microbes necessary for healthy plants. Microbes are one of the most important element of a healthy soil and a good farmer will take advantage of many benefits they have and the bio stimulants that encourage their growth and survival in the soil ecosystem.
We just sent you an email. Please click the link in the email to confirm your subscription!