What is living soil and why does it matter? We break it down in 5 simple steps.
Living soil refers to a method of growing which uses biological activity known as the soil food web, which provides nutrients to plants.
Unlike conventional agriculture practices, which use toxic inorganic fertilizers to essentially “force feed” the plant, living soil and the soil food web create available nutrients in the root zone when the plant needs it.
The soil food web contains many organisms including bacteria, fungi, protozoa, nematodes and many more that all play an important role in making sure the plants are healthy.
- Plants take in Co2 (carbon dioxide) and sunlight energy.
- The plant expels oxygen molecules as waste and begins linking carbon molecules into carbon chains to create simple sugars, proteins/amino acids and carbohydrates.
- Plants will then release that material through the roots as exudates.
- The root exudates feed and attract specific bacteria and fungi to that root zone. Those organisms are extremely dense in nutrients, nitrogen, potassium, phosphorus, calcium, magnesium etc.
- This is when those nutrients are released in the root zone in a plant available form.
Predators of those bacteria and fungi i.e. protozoa, bacterial feeding nematodes, micro anthropods etc. will come along and eat nutrients in a soluble form that the plants can use.
So the term “living soil” means just that, the soil is alive with billions of organisms feeding and cycling nutrients to the plant when the plant needs it.
The plant is in charge, it’s going to make specific exudates to attract specific bacteria and fungi that can supply the plants with whatever nutrient it is needing at that time.