Seven Functions of a Healthy Soil Foodweb

  • Retain nutrients – nutrients are complexed via living biomass and clay-humus; nutrients do not leach and pollute groundwater, retention of fertilizer nutrients
  • Cycle nutrients – nutrients are made available to plants in the right form at the right time during the growing season; via plant-microbe feedback
  • Build soil structure – soil aggregates formed thru bacterial and fungal interaction with clay particles; creates porosity and habitat for roots and soil organisms, reduces compaction, improves water-holding capacity
  • Suppress diseases and pests – disease-causing organisms are suppressed thru bio-control mechanisms like competition; insect pests are suppressed during soil-dwelling phase via bio-control
  • Colonize plant surfaces – root (rhizosphere) and leaf (phyllosphere) surfaces are colonized by beneficial organisms and predators that control disease-causing organisms; mutualistic and symbiotic plant-microbe associations (e.g., Rhizobium, mycorrhizal fungi)
  • Produce plant growth-promoting substances – microorganisms that live in association with rhizosphere and phyllosphere produce bio-active substances that promote plant growth; hormones, secondary metabolites
  • Decompose toxic compounds – microorganisms breakdown toxic compounds derived from natural and human sources (e.g., salts, pesticides, anaerobic compounds, waste products)
  • If you manage to set up all these fuctions in the soil, you do indeed, understand the soil food web