Across Regions, Cultivation/Production

Microbial allies: How soil microbes influence nutrient uptake

Soil is rich with biological diversity and complexity that is not immediately apparent to the un-aided eye. Without a strong microscope, you wouldn’t know that there are hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of organisms in a handful of soil. Bacteria, archaea, algae, and fungi play critical roles in the growth and well-being of plants. I like to think about these millions of microbes under our feet as workers at recycling plants, mining operations, and refineries. They all have specific jobs helping make nutrients available for plants. Most soil microorganisms work in the “recycler” role. These are the decomposers that take dead plant and animal matter and break it down. The soil microorganisms that fill the “miner” role work on nearby rocks and minerals, not organic matter like the recyclers. Refiner microbes, a class of bacteria called Rhizobia, are able to take nitrogen from the air and process it into a form usable by the plant.  Read more

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