Microbes are the building blocks of healthy soil and farms

Microorganisms are essential to the harmony of life underground

Microorganisms have existed for millions of years and have
successfully colonised every corner of the earth and every creature on it. They
complete the cycle of life through the process of fermentation and decomposition. They break down organic waste and use the remaining minerals and nutrients for regeneration, enabling soil, crops and livestock to flourish.

Most microbes are helpful and life enhancing; very few cause disease. A healthy soil microbiome contains trillions of diverse microorganisms doing thousands of different jobs, from keeping soils nutrient rich and supporting livestock health through to delivering nutrients to plants.

Without beneficial microbes there would be no life as we know it

The cycle of life

Effective microbes break down organic matter into the building blocks of life, making them available for rebirth and regrowth. 

They are fantastic at completing the cycle of life. 

Fermentation and putrefaction

The healthy breakdown of organic matter is critical in the cycle of life process. This can happen in two ways: putrefaction or fermentation. 

In putrefaction, matter is broken down, often without the presence of oxygen and produces a rotting smell because toxic gasses such as methane and ammonia are being released. 

During fermentation matter is broken down into its constituent parts, mostly carbohydrates, nitrates and phosphates, which are then readily available for other organisms to use. This gives organisms a bountiful supply of nutrients in order to thrive.

“To live in a sustainable world we need to learn how to live in the cycle of life and make it real and sustainable. Effective microorganisms are very good at this. They naturally have an intelligence that will assist what is growing and also assist what is decaying.

They seem to know when to do what they need to do and they’ve been around for three and a half billion years. They were the first form of life on this planet and if we’re not careful they’ll be the last.”

Jeff Allen 

Soil microbes

Soil microbes exist in single cell form or as a colony of cells. There are microorganisms everywhere. There are more soil microbes in a teaspoon of healthy soil than there are people on earth, around 50 billion. 

You may already know that each of us humans has a microbiome: our own wonderful community of trillions of single cell, living organisms. As we look after it, it looks after us. The same is true for the microbiome of the soil, which is the combination of microorganisms within the soil.

Most microbes are helpful and life enhancing; very few cause disease. In trying to kill the bad ones, we can strengthen them and weaken the environment and our bodies. Chemical fertilisers and cleaning products are destructive to microbiomes because they wipe out all bacteria, or microbes, not just the bad ones.

Soil organisms are usually divided into five groups:

1

Protists:

Including bacteria, actinomycetes and algae

2

Microfauna:

Single-celled protozoa, including small flatworms and nematodes

3

Mesofauna:

Creatures that feed on microorganisms, decaying matter and living plants, including nematodes and mites

4

Macrofauna:

This group includes slugs, snails and millipedes

5

Megafauna:

Makes up the largest soil organisms and includes the largest earthworms

Earthworms are perhaps the most important creatures that live in soil. They pass both soil and organic matter through their guts, in the process aerating the soil, breaking up the litter of organic matter on its surface and moving the material vertically from the surface to the subsoil. This develops the soil structure for plants and other organisms making it extremely important to soil fertility.