Beneficial soil microorganisms have more functions than science knows. The beneficial influences of soil microbes on plant growth are countless. In this article we’ll explore some of these influences and find out why your soil needs biology more than minerals.

6 Key Functions of Soil Microbes

1. Soil Microorganisms Fix Atmospheric Nitrogen 

Nitrogen fixation plays a crucial role and benefit to plants. It is a process by which certain microorganisms convert atmospheric nitrogen into a form that plants can utilise for their growth and development.

In the soil, nitrogen fixation is primarily carried out by bacteria known as diazotrophs. These bacteria have the unique ability to convert atmospheric nitrogen gas (N2) into ammonia (NH3), which can then be further converted into plant-available forms.

The availability of fixed nitrogen in the soil is essential for plant nutrition, and is an essential element required for various biological processes, including protein synthesis, chlorophyll production, and overall plant growth.

Most plants are unable to directly utilise atmospheric nitrogen due to its inert nature, but this is where nitrogen-fixing bacteria play a vital role.

By converting atmospheric nitrogen into usable forms, these bacteria contribute to increasing the nutrient content of the soil. This enhanced soil fertility benefits plants by providing them with an adequate supply of nitrogen for their metabolic needs.

compost

2. Soil Microorganisms Unlock Bound Minerals

Soil microorganisms have the ability to unlock bound minerals in the soil, making minerals and trace elements available for plants to uptake.  These bacteria have the ability to break down organic matter and release essential nutrients, such as phosphorus and potassium, which are often bound or “locked up” in the soil.

By breaking down these organic compounds, beneficial bacteria make these nutrients more readily available for plants to uptake.

Locked up minerals refer to nutrients that are present in the soil but are not readily accessible to plants due to various factors like pH levels, organic matter content, or mineral composition. Beneficial soil microbes help break down these mineral complexes through processes like mineral solubilisation and chelation.

Mineral Solubilisation; involves the secretion of organic acids by certain microbes that can dissolve mineral compounds, releasing essential nutrients like phosphorus, potassium, and iron into a form that plants can absorb.

Chelation; is another mechanism where soil biology produce compounds called chelators that bind with minerals and prevent them from becoming insoluble or fixed in the soil.

By accessing locked up minerals, beneficial soil microbes enhance nutrient availability for plants. This leads to improved plant growth, increased nutrient uptake efficiency, and ultimately better overall crop health and yield.

Plant root rhyzosphere

3. Soil Microbes Break Down Organic Matter

Soil microbes play a crucial role in breaking down organic matter in the soil, which in turn benefits plants and enhances soil fertility. These microscopic organisms, including bacteria, fungi, and protozoa, are responsible for the decomposition of dead plant and animal material into simpler forms.

When organic matter such as leaves, roots, and other plant debris accumulate on the soil surface or are incorporated into the soil, soil microbes begin their work.

Microbes secrete enzymes that break down complex organic compounds into smaller molecules that can be easily absorbed by plants

The process of decomposition releases essential nutrients like nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium back into the soil. These nutrients are then made available to plants for growth and development.

Soil microbes highway and internet, fungi

Fungal networks in the soil, (above image).

4. Soil Biology Builds Soil Structure

As organic matter decomposes, it improves the structure of the soil by enhancing its ability to hold water and nutrients.

Furthermore, beneficial bacteria produce sticky substances that bind soil particles together, improving soil aggregation and water infiltration. This activity helps create a favorable environment for plant roots to access both water and nutrients.

Microbes contribute to the formation of stable soil aggregates, which enhances water infiltration and retention.

Furthermore, soil biology also forms mutualistic relationships with plants through symbiotic associations such as mycorrhizal fungi. These fungi form a network of fine threads called hyphae that extend into the root system of plants. In return for sugars produced by photosynthesis in plant leaves, mycorrhizal fungi help plants access nutrients from the soil more efficiently.

5. Biological Networks In The Soil Support Plant Immunity

Beneficial soil microorganisms play a crucial role in supporting plant immunity and enhancing soil fertility. These microorganisms form complex networks in the soil, known as microbial communities, which interact with plants in various ways.

One of the key benefits of microbial networks is their ability to improve plant health and enhance resistance against diseases and pests.

Certain strains of beneficial microbes can directly suppress pathogenic organisms by producing antimicrobial compounds or competing for resources. This helps to reduce the incidence and severity of plant diseases, leading to healthier crops.

Soil microorganisms

6. Soil Microorganisms Detox Chemicals From The Soil

The presence of beneficial microbes in the soil plays a crucial role in detoxifying it from harmful chemicals and pollutants. Soil microorganisms have the ability to break down and metabolise various toxic substances, thus improving soil health and fertility.

Beneficial microbes, and the addition of Biological Soil amendments containing microorganisms such as lactobacillus, have the capacity to degrade organic pollutants through a process called biodegradation.  They utilise enzymes to break down complex compounds into simpler forms that can be easily absorbed by plants or further decomposed by other microorganisms.

Detoxification not only reduces the concentration of harmful substances in the soil but also prevents their migration into groundwater or nearby ecosystems.

In summary, the presence of beneficial microorgansms, and microbial networks, in the soil is crucial for supporting plant immunity, nutrient cycling, and maintaining soil fertility.

Harnessing the potential of these microbes, through using regenerative agricultural practices, can lead to healthier crops, reduced reliance on synthetic inputs, and improved overall ecosystem functioning.

If you were curious to know why your soil need biology more than minerals, when the soil is given what it needs to support the beneficial microorganisms and biological networks, then the microbes will find the minerals necessary for plant nutrition.

Colonies of lactic acid bacteria

Colonies of lactic acid bacteria in SONIC Liquid Fish Hydrolysate (above image).

Probiotics for Plants

Probiotics for human health are not new but the concept of managing plant health through the manipulation of probiotic organisms associated with plants has gained interest only recently.

Plant-specific stimulation of specific microbial groups in their rhizosphere suggests that plants may have evolved to strategically stimulate and support particular microbial groups capable of producing antibiotics as a defence against diseases caused by soil-borne pathogens.

Diseases caused by soil-borne fungal pathogens result in more than $150 million of annual production losses in cereal crops in Australia.

– Beneficial Microorganisms for Sustainable Agriculture by Vadakattu V.S.R. Gupta, CSIRO Ecosystem Sciences, PMB 2, Glen Osmond, SA 5064, Australia.  Download Article

“The ultimate goal of farming is not the growing of crops, but the cultivation and perfection of human beings.”

Masanoubu Fukuoka

Korean Natural Farming

SONIC Natural Farming

BIOLOGICAL SOLUTIONS

for Soil, Crops & Livestock

You Might Also Like…

Top 7 Benefits of using Seaweed in Agriculture

In the pursuit of sustainable agriculture, farmers are increasingly looking to nature-based solutions to improve soil health and fertility while...

5 Ways to Build Soil Biology for Long Term Profitability

Building soil biology is a crucial aspect of sustainable agriculture and gardening practices. By encouraging the return of microbial life and...

Why Fermentation is Key to Producing Premium Biological Fertilisers

Why Use Fermentation to Produce Biological Fertilisers?  Fermentation is a process that has been utilised for centuries in various industries,...

How To Cultivate Resilient Orchards Using Fish Hydrolysate

Liquid fish hydrolysate is an effective tool for orchardists looking to build resilience in their crops. As a natural biostimulant, fish hydrolysate...

How to Reduce Farm Odours with Beneficial Microbes

Livestock farmers are turning to innovative solutions to tackle the challenge of odour in animal enclosures. By harnessing the power of beneficial...

How to Improve Livestock Feed Conversion Ratios

Optimising livestock feed conversion ratios is a crucial aspect of sustainable and efficient animal husbandry. Two effective strategies to achieve...

Turning Fish Waste into Premium Hydrolysate Fertiliser

Fish hydrolysate fertiliser is a valuable tool in agricultural systems to improve soil health and provide organic nitrogen to plants. This type of...

Regenerative Agriculture: Benefits and Practices

Regenerative agriculture is an approach to farming and land management that focuses on rebuilding soil health and restoring degraded land. This...

Biofertiliser Production Systems Eliminate Shipping & Container Costs

Farmers stand to gain numerous benefits from utilising SONIC On-Farm Production Services to acess fresh Fish Hydrolysate and Liquid Seaweed...

Boosting Seed Germination using Biological Fertiliser

When it comes to seed germination, the treatment of seeds with biological fertilisers has shown excellent results in terms of faster germination...

How to Increase Soil Fertility with Mixed-Species Planting

Why is Plant Diversity Beneficial? Plant diversity is essential for a thriving ecosystem. When a variety of plant species are grown together, it...

3 Proven Ways to Optimise Livestock Nutrition

Ensuring that livestock receive a nutrient-dense diet full of organic nutrition is crucial for their overall health and productivity.  In this...

7 Reasons why Farmers are Shifting to Organic Nitrogen Fertiliser

As the world becomes increasingly aware of the importance of sustainability, many farmers are moving away from using chemical nitrogen fertilisers,...

The Vital Role of the Ocean in Agriculture: 3 Key Contributions

Fish and sea plants, like seaweed, spend its entire life cycle, immersed in this mineral rich bath, absorbing all the nutrients it needs to live,...

Probiotics for Cattle and Calves: Optimising Gut Health

Maintaining optimal gut health is crucial for the overall wellbeing of cattle and calves. One effective way to support digestive function and...

Top 2 Cost-Effective Pasture and Cover Cropping Tips

When it comes to cover crops and pasture cropping, the general rule of thought is, if you have healthy soil, you you have healthy plants.  This is...

Livestock Digestive Function – Key to Feed Efficiency

Livestock digestive health plays a crucial role in optimising net profit per acre. One key aspect of livestock digestive health is feed efficiency....

Top 3 Biological Fertiliser Strategies for Dry Times

During dry times, it is critical for farmers to maximise their return on investment (ROI) when it comes to fertilisation. One effective approach,...