How Do Microbes Benefit Soil and Plants
Soil is composed of many components that vary based on the composition of the elements, their concentration, and the environmental surroundings.
What Is Soil Made Of?
- Geologic elements like sand or loam and pieces of rock
- Decomposed matter from living organisms like plants and animals
- Living matter like microbes and bugs
What Do Soil Microbes Do?
Microbes play an important role in soil by breaking down matter and converting chemicals into a form that can be used by plants. When the soil has a healthy microbial population it has more carbon available to nourish organisms.
When microbes and other decomposing organisms feed on dead plant and animal material, it releases carbon into the soil. Microbes also may take up chemicals from the environment. They provide two major services in doing this:
The first microbe soil benefit is that they modify nutrients like nitrogen into a form that plants can use.
The second is bioremediation.
Bioremediation in the process of microbes in the soil absorbing toxic chemicals, like heavy metals and pesticides, from the soil and either storing or digesting them. The overall effect is a healthier environment because the toxins are kept from leaching into groundwater.
Does Synthetic Fertilizer Kill Soil Microbes?
When it comes to synthetic vs. organic nutrients, there is an effect on soil microbes. Fertilizer quality is important and can strongly influence crop productivity and the ability of plants to use nitrogen. Organic fertilizers increase the activity and population size of microbes resulting in more carbon stores.
Synthetic fertilizers, also called chemical or inorganic, do not impart this advantage to the degree that organic fertilizers do. Long term, inorganic fertilizers reduce microbial populations and activity. It can take years for microbial populations to recover from extended synthetic fertilizer use, so it is important to avoid depleting them by limiting the use of agricultural chemicals.
Examples of Organic Fertilizers
In addition to mixing organic nutrient sources with soil for a custom bled, there are pre-conditioned soils that you can buy for a ready-to-use solution. If you are looking for an extra boost, you can buy mycorrhizae mixes like Premier Tech Pro-Mix BX Biofungicide + Mycorrhizae to add to your soil.