Improving soil health on farm fields integrates the three types of soil management: physical, chemical, and biological. Physical management includes how farmers use their equipment on fields – tilling, harvesting, etc. Chemical management involves the timing and choice of fertilizers, manure, and other additions. Soil biology is the next frontier being researched for optimizing soil … Continue reading What is the current research about soil additions to help soil biology?
Most living creatures extract the energy in food through a process called respiration. During respiration, organisms take in oxygen and organic carbon (food) and breathe out water and carbon dioxide. Humans (and most creatures) require oxygen for respiration and therefore survival. But many microorganisms in soils do not need oxygen to survive! Unlike humans, soil … Continue reading Microbial respiration with iron
If you’ve been gardening without gloves lately, then the answer is probably “yes.” But that is, for the most part, a good thing – besides having to clean your hands! In garden soil there are millions to billions of microorganisms, or microbes. They could be bacteria, fungi, viruses, and archaea. Baseline estimates suggest that there … Continue reading Are there soil microbes under my fingernails?
Soil microbes like bacteria, fungi and actinomycetes are important for many reasons. They help move nutrients to and from the soil. They help with plant growth. They even help make substances that hold soil particles in aggregates, which helps the stability of soil. These microbes are small but exist in large numbers in soil. Soil … Continue reading Why is testing for soil microbes important?
There isn’t a simple answer to this complex question – but my research hopes to shed some light on this important subject. The key to answering this question starts with understanding that all soils, microbes, and fertilizers are unique. Different farms – or even areas within a farm – may have different situations. Interactions between … Continue reading How are soil microbes affected by fertilizer in soils?
Roots are not passive actors in the exchange of nutrients with soil. Their growth helps the plant, and the environment!
What is the first color that comes to mind when you envision soil? Is it brown, black, yellow, or red? How about white, gray, green, or blue? Any of these answers are correct depending on where you are from! It is true; soils come in an incredible range of colors. Complete soil profile, Maracai, Brazil, … Continue reading In general, what relationship does soil color bear to climate?
Soil is essential to life. That’s why we hear more every day about the microbes that inhabit soil1. What many don’t realize, however, is that those microbes are related to the emerging field of “soil health.” Microbes also affect how soils are tested in laboratories. This topic has captured the attention of farmers, scientists and … Continue reading How do soil microbes affect soil health and nutrient availability?
The polar regions of the globe are often very cold for the most of the year. In the dead of winter, these environments can experience air temperatures well below -50° F! The coldest temperature on record (-128° F) was measured in Antarctica in 1983. Soil with a permafrost layer beginning at 60 cm near the … Continue reading I’ve heard that soil microbes are living in Antarctica. How can that be?
The greatest number of living creatures in soils is those you can’t see with the human eye. Although small, the activity of these organisms is vital for life as we know it. There are more microbes in a handful of soil than there are humans on the earth. Microbes, like bacteria and fungi, depend on … Continue reading Is it true bacteria live in the soil? Isn’t that bad?