Soil microbes play a critical role in the sustainability of all plant life.
Soil is rich with biological diversity and complexity that is not immediately apparent. Without a strong microscope, you wouldn’t know that there are hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of organisms in a handful of soil. Bacteria and fungi play critical roles in the growth and healthiness of plants.
Most soil microorganisms work in a recycling role. They decompose dead plant and animal matter. These microbes recycle the organic matter to release the fundamental components that are used as food by plants.
The microbes that work in the recycling role use the organic carbon in the organic matter as an energy source (food). Recycling can free up nutrients like nitrogen, potassium, and phosphorus that are important to plant health. The importance of these recycling microbes cannot be overstated. The proliferation of plant-life would be nearly impossible without these hard-working organisms.
An important group of these microorganisms is called mycorrhizal fungi. Mycorrhizal fungi form special symbiotic relationships with plant roots. They connect with plant roots to provide access to the freshly-released nutrients. In return, the plant roots provide the fungi with tasty, energy- rich carbon that the fungi use for growth in an otherwise desolate area of the soil environment.
Another group of microbes are bacteria called Rhizobia. Rhizobia are able to take nitrogen from the air and process it into a form usable by the plant. These “nitrogen-fixing” bacteria take inert nitrogen gas in the atmosphere (N2 gas) and convert it to the plant-available ammonia and other nitrogen-rich organic compounds.
There are many examples of other plant varieties and how they benefit the Rizosphere. One example of this symbiotic relationship is this. Microbes live in special root formations called “nodules” of legume plants. some plants such as alfalfa, clover, beans, and lentils, are called legumes. They can form this symbiotic relationships with Rhizobia. The legumes in Rhizobia and provide them with energy-rich compounds for food. Because of this symbiotic relationship, legumes can make a great cover- crop. Post harvest tissues of legumes re- introduced to the soil for future plant use by the microbes! Legumes a particularly rich in nitrogen. This nitrogen-rich plant material can provide nitrogen to the next planted crop. This can reduce the amount of nitrogen fertilizers for future crops.
So how do you make your soil microbe friendly? Utilize garden products that provide microbes and beneficial bacteria as ingredients microbial In simple terms, you must “feed” the microbial communities in your soil. microbes use organic carbon in dead matter as an energy source. Cover crop residue, compost, or mulch are good sources of organic matter.
Soil microbes play a critical role in the sustainability of all plant life. They decompose and recycle. They extract nutrients bound in organic materials and serve them up to the plant as food and energy. They help access minerals in rocks large and small and, they can even refine nitrogen from the air into a useful form for plants. They are a most important part of a balanced ecosystem.