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The Importance of Soil Biology

With permission from The Soil and Water Conservation Society (SWCS), the following information are excerpts from the Soil Biology Primer and are provided for educational purposes, describing the interaction and importance of a healthy biological soil for different purposes including crop production.

The SWCS does not endorse AgriGro™, Inc. For more information, click here to visit the NRCS soil biology site.

  • Fertilizer requirements may decline as a healthy food web efficiently stores and cycles nutrients.
  • Nitrates do not leach into groundwater when soil organisms hold nitrogen in the rooting zone.
  • Water quality is protected when organisms effectively degrade pollutants.
  • More water soaks into soil and can be used by crops as biological activity enhances soil structure.
  • Less topsoil is lost to water and wind erosion where soil organisms have stabilized the soil structure.
  • Pesticide use can be reduced as disease suppression improves with a healthy soil food web.

Soil and Water Conservation Society (SWCS). 2000. Soil Biology Primer. Rev. ed. Ankeny, IA: Soil and Water Conservation Society.

  • Feed other members of the food web.
  • Decompose organic matter.
  • Help keep nutrients in the rooting zone and out of surface and ground water.
  • Enhance soil structure, improving the flow of water and reducing erosion.
  • Compete with disease-causing organisms.
  • Filter and degrade pollutants as water flows through soil.

Soil and Water Conservation Society (SWCS). 2000. Soil Biology Primer. Rev. ed. Ankeny, IA: Soil and Water Conservation Society.

  • Decompose complex carbon compounds.
  • Improve accumulation of organic matter.
  • Retain nutrients in fungal biomass, reducing leaching of nutrients out of the root zone.
  • Physically bind soil particles into aggregates.
  • Are an important food source for other organisms in the food web.
  • Improve plant growth when mycorrhizal fungi become associated with the roots of some plants.
  • Compete with plant pathogens.
  • Decompose certain types of pollutants.

Soil and Water Conservation Society (SWCS). 2000. Soil Biology Primer. Rev. ed. Ankeny, IA: Soil and Water Conservation Society.

  • Release nutrients stored in microbial biomass for plant use.
  • Increase decomposition rates and soil aggregation by stimulating bacterial activity.
  • Prevent some pathogens from establishing on plants.
  • Provide prey for larger soil organisms, such as nematodes.

Soil and Water Conservation Society (SWCS). 2000. Soil Biology Primer. Rev. ed. Ankeny, IA: Soil and Water Conservation Society.

  • Regulate the populations of other soil organisms.
  • Mineralize nutrients into plant available forms.
  • Provide a food source for other soil organisms.

Soil and Water Conservation Society (SWCS). 2000. Soil Biology Primer. Rev. ed. Ankeny, IA: Soil and Water Conservation Society.

  • Improve soil structure through burrowing and the creation of fecal pellets.
  • Control disease-causing organisms.
  • Stimulate microbial activity.
  • Enhance decomposition through shredding of large plant litter and mixing of soil.
  • Regulate healthy soil food web populations.

Soil and Water Conservation Society (SWCS). 2000. Soil Biology Primer. Rev. ed. Ankeny, IA: Soil and Water Conservation Society.

  • Shred and increase the surface area of organic matter, thus stimulating microbial decomposition and nutrient release.
  • Improve soil stability, porosity, and moisture-holding capacity by burrowing and aggregating soil.
  • Turn soil over, prevent disease, and enhance decomposition by bringing deeper soil to the surface and burying organic matter.
  • Improve water infiltration by forming deep channels and improving soil aggregation.
  • Improve root growth by creating channels lined with nutrients.

Soil and Water Conservation Society (SWCS). 2000. Soil Biology Primer. Rev. ed. Ankeny, IA: Soil and Water Conservation Society.

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