Soil microbes are hard to see and understand, yet we know that they have a significant impact on plant health, your health, and the Earth’s health. New microbial research and technologies are beginning to change how we understand and direct the soil microbiome to increase soil fertility and plant health, which then help our understanding of your microbiome.
So writes Lucy Stitzer in an article published by Genetic Literacy Project (GLP). She says that pouring algae on the soil, sequencing soil DNA, and measuring soil diversity are just a few of the new technologies used to keep our soil from becoming just ‘dirt’. And it seems as though diversity is the key. “When I hold a teaspoon of healthy soil in my hand I squint and try to see the billions of microbes. Apparently, in this little amount there are more microbes than all 7.8 billion people on earth today.”
Since the beginning of time, these soil microorganisms are fungi, insects, bacteria, algae, and more than happily coexist in the soil. They control soil pathogens, reduce disease outbreaks, keep plants nutritious and resilient, give plants the power to pull carbon out of the air, make land less prone to wind and water erosion, clean and filter water, and are a source of human medicines.
Stitzer writes that microbial technology is a serious solution that uses bacteria, fungi, viruses, protozoans, and yeasts instead of conventional agrochemicals. Companies in this niche produce biostimulants. These include biopesticides, which are natural materials like canola or baking soda that eliminate pests, and biofertilizers, natural fertilizer compounds such as manure, algae, or decayed material that increase the availability of nutrients to the plants.
Lucy Stitzer discusses four examples of new technologies from specialist companies that make our soil healthier. She concludes by saying: “There is a lot more to the healthy soil microbes than just dirt. It is almost as wonderful and vast as gazing at the stars.”
Source: Genetic Literacy Project (GLP). Read the full article here
Photo: Courtesy Modern Farmer