A healthy soil, just like healthy human body creates a strong immune system for the plants, if the soil get “sick” it becomes incapable of supporting healthy plants. The organisms living in soil both large and small play a significant role in maintaining a healthy soil ecosystem and healthy plants.
One of the main reasons we are interested in these organisms is because of their role in breaking down organic matter and incorporating them into the soil. These organisms influence all aspect of decomposition and nutrient availability to plants.
Breaking down organic matter is a complex process, which involves chemical alteration of organic matter, physical fragmentation and finally releasing of mineral nutrients. Different organisms are involved in different stages of this process. Breakdown starts immediately after an organism dies. The organic matter are colonized by soil microbes that uses enzymes to oxidize organic matter to obtain energy. Soil animals such as earthworms, mite and ant fragment organic matter increasing the surface area and allowing more soil microbes to colonize and decompose the organic matter.
During decomposition, the organic molecules in organic matter are broken down into simpler organic molecules such as amino acids and sugars. Therefore, as the organism soil biomass breaks complex materials or consume the other dead organism, nutrients are converted and made available to plants.
Environmental concerns have resulted in more emphasis on better management of our soils and at this point, we can see the power of microbes into our soil. That is why all actions taken to improve soil health should contribute to increasing beneficial organisms such as microbes and maintain high level of soil organic matter for plants nutrient uptake.
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