The Soil Food Web
The Soil Food Web a complex relationship between plants, plant roots, soil particles, bacteria, fungi, protozoa, micro-arthropods, mites, vertebra, water and oxygen…phew seems like a mouth full so I’ll make this simple.
Before we get into it please understand that this is not a new concept, the research has been done (DR. E. Ingham we thank you.), the facts are in! Soil is life…. Has life. Contains life. A single teaspoon of soil holds more microorganisms than there are humans on the planet…yep you read that right…. One teaspoon of soil contains over 6 billion microorganisms…there is more life in the soil than there is on the surface of the planet!
So why am I, a tree preservation specialist so into the soil? Well virtually every aspect of our existence is directly or indirectly influenced by these microorganisms. From the food we eat, the clothes we wear, the materials we consume, the water we drink, the air we breathe, the health of the fauna and flora on the planet and that includes the trees in your garden. You see a healthy soil web offers tremendous ecological benefits to your landscape, your trees and the planet as a whole.
The major decomposers in the soil are bacteria and fungi, with the help of mites, millipedes, earth worms and even the dreaded termite (to name a few) they shred, chew and poop organic matter scattering it throughout the soil profile. They are natures waste management team…go team!
All of the life in the soil prevents nutrient leaching…think about it…they are now the nutrient’s…so not only do they release the nutrients in organic matter they store it in their bodies and hey presto when they die, they get consumed, the cycle goes on. In a natural system there is no waste!
While the decomposers are doing their job they are moving, creating channels, runs, pockets of space throughout the soil profile…a process called bioturbation…and these teeny tiny spaces are magic…they allow air and water into the soil profile for gaseous exchange and nutrient/water uptake by plants…it’s amazing when you think about it.
This healthy, thriving, system below ground is teaming with life and provides life for everything above, you, me, animals and plant life. And when its teaming with life it can suppress pathogens that are harmful to both humans and flora.
Walkout into your garden and look at the soil in your flower beds and around your trees; can you see the soil....not good, can you scoop it up in your hand, is there life, does it smell earthy or dank/wet/musty…is there organic matter…are you mulching, with the correct mulch in the correct way? (we will get into this in after my next blog....so hold on)
If you take a step back and think about this....the tree is rooted in place, it obtains its nutrients and water from the soil, if the soil is not functioning correctly then the tree will not thrive, it will have poor vigor, stunted growth, may have chlorotic leaves (off color/yellowing) to name a few. ATP works with the soil, correcting deficiencies to positively effect the tree.
It takes times to see results, just for the simple fact that trees are BIG and it can take several seasons to see results. They are not like a blade of grass...where you can have a whole new blade in a month or two and the diseased or deficient signs have been removed.
"An ounce of prevention is worth more than a pound of cure."
Next up how trees function.