Posted by Anton Lo over 12 years ago
I found this soil foodweb link on Doug Weatherbee's profile @ soildoctor.org, it's a very nice primer on understanding the conditions we want to create in the soil. Creating the soil foodweb is totally in line with permaculture thinking in terms of "letting the life do the work"- we encourage soil microbes to proliferate as opposed to engaging in the tedious and ultimately destructive work of adding synthetic fertilizers and biocides, tilling, etc.
This is a summary of what I learned today:
1. Microbes are important because they engage in nutrient cycling, which converts raw materials into forms that are usable by plants.
2. The main microbes are bacteria, fungi, protozoa, and nematodes.
3. Microbe interaction is actually key, as protozoa must eat the bacteria and fungi in order for nutrients to be released to plants in a usable form. So in order for a healthy population of protozoa to flourish, it is necessary to have enough food for them in the form of bacteria and fungi.
4. Fungi and bacteria are both necessary but one may desired in larger numbers than the other due to the different functions that each performs (Geoff Lawton summarized this by saying that herbaceous plants generally prefer a bacterially dominated soil as compared to woody plants, which prefer a fungal dominated soil).
5. You can analyze the soil for deficiencies in any of the organisms.
6.There are ways to balance the populations of microbes, which mainly involves feeding the bacteria and fungi the materials that they prefer to eat.
7. The goal is to create a food web, or chain, if you will, in the soil that is just as complicated and important to health as those food webs we learned in school with a lion and/or man perched at the top as top predator.
In the original post on my website, I also wonder if a microscope is an essential piece of equipment in understanding your soil... any thoughts?
Image of fungal feeding nematode from soilfoodweb.com
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|Type: Permaculture Design Certificate (PDC) course|
|Teacher: Geoff Lawton|
|Location: Hong Kong|
|Date: Dec 2010|