It may look like ordinary, brown dirt but your soil is a complex ecosystem of predators and prey, otherwise known as the soil food web. So, when even one link in the soil system is missing it can impact the quality and fertility of soil. And you guessed it! At the top of this pyramid is bacteria and fungi which break down organic matter. The breakdown of this organic matter by microorganisms results in metabolites that are consumed by other organisms. Furthermore, the by-products of this food chain are nutrients that your plants vitally need.
To sum up, a healthy, living soil is dependent on beneficial microorganisms. Overuse of chemicals and the lack of organic inputs can result in dead soil. So what exactly is living in your soil? And how can you rehabilitate damaged soil?
What is the Soil Food Web?
The soil food web is the community of organisms living all or part of their lives in the soil. It describes a complex living system in the soil and how it interacts with the environment, plants, and animals. Food webs describe the transfer of energy between species in an ecosystem.
Soil Food Web Infographic
So, by introducing organic amendments and microbial additives back into your garden, you supply the top level of the pyramid — the beneficial bacteria — that will keep your soil healthy and invite beneficial insects, ultimately creating an environment where plants will flourish. Bye, bye, dead lifeless soil!
“Our soil teams with a multitude of organisms which provide the necessary work for healthy plants to grow free from disease, pests, and intertility. These interconnected interactions and feeding relationships (quite literally “who eat who”) help determine the types of nutrients present in soil, its depth, and pH, and even the types of plants which can grow.” – Dr. Elaine Ingham\