2015 is the International Year of Soils. Lush crop fields cover the powerhouse of the plant, the roots, growing in the dirt beneath our feet.For every plant growing on top, there are millions of organisms working below the surface as a support team.
What are soil microorganisms?
The three main categories are bacteria, mycorrhiza, and protozoa. These organisms or bugs often have a symbiotic relationship with the plant growing in the soil, which means they benefit one another. Helping the microorganisms helps increase your crop yield.
How do they work?
One well known relationship is when bacteria “fix nitrogen.” The bacteria build nodules attached to the roots of legume crops. They take atmospheric nitrogen and convert it into a form useable by plants. This is really important in legume forage crops such as clover or alfalfa. The nitrogen that the bacteria help create with the legume crop provides valuable nitrogen for the grass species growing beside the legume plant.
The plant photosynthesizes sugar into the roots. The roots give off up to 60% of that sugar to attract organisms to help the plant grow. The microorganisms provide nutrients and minerals the plant could not otherwise reach.
Learn more about soil biology
In this year of the soil, there are many ways to educate ourselves about the benefits of soil management.
- Innovative Farmers Association of Ontario Soil Health Day, will be held Wednesday, August 12 in Innisfill, Ontario. Dr. Christine Jones of Australia will be discussing restoring and rebuilding soils. Anne Verhallen, OMAFRA, Cover Crops Specialist will be talking about progressive cover crops which help keep soil covered. For more information on this workshop please go to: bit.ly/soilhealthinnisfil
- For more about International Year of Soils go to: http://www.fao.org/soils-2015/en/
In the year of soils, recognizing the power of healthy soils in growing lush crops is important. In the soil are many organisms to help the visible organism on top of the soil stay healthy. Here is to happy soils growing happy plants in 2015.