Mark Wilkes, a pioneer using wood mulch & myco


SOURCE:    http://www.botanicalgarden.ubc.ca/forums/showthread.php?t=62093

April 25, 2010 – Help Plant a Mushroom Garden

As part of the upcoming Earth Day celebrations, the Sunshine Coast Society for Hunting, Recognition and Observation of Mushrooms (SHROOM) is inviting members of the public to help establish a mushroom demonstration garden at the Iris Griffith centre at 2 p.m. on Sunday, April 25.

Join Mark Wilkes of Funguy Gardens, who will demonstrate his method of using mycelium-impregnated wood chips as mulch. Not only does the mulch produce an abundance of good-tasting mushrooms (known as Wine Caps, Garden Giant, or King Stropharia), over the period of less than a year the mycelium consumes the lignin in the wood and the chips are transformed into healthy, nutrient-rich garden soil.

For more information, contact Ann Harmer at 604 883 3678 or visit Mark Wilkes’ website http://funguygardens.blogspot.com.

SHROOM (a newly established sunshine coast mycological society) will also be accepting memberships at that time: annual dues is $20 per person, $25 for a family.

SOURCE:     http://www.sustainablesunshinecoast.com/funguy-gardens

Website: Funguy Gardens Email Address: farmerwilkes@gmail.com

Phone: 604-886-3388

Address:
N/A

Through the use of mushroom mycelium, Funguy Gardens offers Sunshine Coast residents fantastic nutrient- rich “living soil” solutions at great prices. We are dedicated to the environment and use techniques that mimic nature to create the healthiest of ecosystems in your own back yard. Sterile soil mixes lack the nutrients, minerals and life that your garden needs to be healthy and flourish. Mark Wilkes has taken his love for food and gardening and created an option that will save you time, money and water. Growing your garden with mushrooms will build plant health, raise yields and re-introduces the beneficial fungus back in your garden where it is belongs. Join the local eco movement for only $1.75/sq.foot.

Funguy Gardens also frequently sells mushroom mulch kits and various delicious homemade mushroom edibles at farmers markets on the Sunshine Coast and throughout the Lower Mainland.


“10 Questions With……”
Mark Wilkes 
Owner and operator of Funguy Gardens
 October, 2010 Interview

How did you first become interested in the innovative concept of “growing your own soil” through the use of mushroom mycelium?
As a gardening enthusiast on the Coast, I found it very difficult to source healthy fertile soil that did not need to be amended for a minimum of 5 years. I discovered that one of the types of mushrooms I was growing was leaving me with beautiful black soil in place of the wood chips. Now I am a soil farmer who offers garden lovers a living soil option.

How does mushroom mycelium turn wood chips into rich fertile soil?
The mushroom roots (mycelium) wrap around the chips and digest the lignin-cellulose structure of the wood leaving you with fertile soil. They amend the carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen and minerals back into the ecosystem in forms usable to the plants, insects, and other organisms.

What are the benefits to digesting wood rather than adding heat to compost it?
When we look at nature there are never naturally occurring large piles of wood generating heat. When we add heat (naturally or artificially) we trigger harmful bacteria to grow that are not beneficial for our plants to thrive in.
Glomalin, only recently discovered in 1996, is exclusively created in the wood chip digestion process by mycelium. It’s presence is now increasingly being included in soil quality analysis.

What makes glomalin such a valuable soil component for gardeners on the Sunshine Coast?
When we compost wood with heat there is no glomalin production. Glomalin is the matrix that holds soil together. When we over-till our soil the glomalin is broken up, leaving the wind and the rain to wash away important nutrients and minerals. Because we get a lot of rain on the Coast, our soils can become depleted without this very valuable substance.

Describe the on-site services that you provide for residents of the Sunshine Coast.
First, I personally consult with the customer to determine their specific needs. Then I choose the type of wood to be digested by the mycelium for each particular installation. This is determined by the digestive lifetime of the wood, the environmental conditions on the property, and the type of plants the customer wants to grow in and around the mulch. For example, if the customer wants flower beds dressed then I suggest a wood that lasts longer. If they want mulch for vegetable beds I choose a wood that digests quickly, giving results in less than a gardening season. Ornamental and vegetable plants can grow directly in the installation area where the mycelium is at work. I supply, deliver, and install all aspects of the procedure and this can be done any time of the year with the exception of January and February.

How long does a mushroom mulch installation last and how long does it take for the mycelium to fruit?
How long an installation lasts depends on the thickness of the mulch installed and how much fuel you supply the mycelium with. As with all organisms, as long as you feed them from year to year they keep growing and expanding, leaving you with more and more fertile soil. A large mulched area could produce wheelbarrow loads of delicious edible mushrooms 6-10 months after an installation, growing around your plants only and never harming them.

Funguy Gardens also retails mushroom mulch kits for people who wish to install the mycelium themselves. How do these work and where can you buy them?
The mushroom mulch kits are easy to install. First, you simply dig a large shallow hole in your garden the size of the kit. Next, empty the contents of the kit into the hole. Lastly, dust some soil over top and add water. To properly flush mushrooms, they need to be installed in an area with partial to full sun exposure. I regularly sell the kits at farmer markets on the Coast or you can contact me directly by phone or email for pickup in the off-season.

What are the various reasons why mushroom mulch is “The Sustainable Choice” for improving soil quality?
Using mushroom mulch to grow your soil is a form of biomimicry and thus has many environmental benefits. Mycelium installations create a natural food chain effect, drawing many valuable creatures to your garden like bugs, birds, and most of all lots of worms. The addition of glomalin in your soil through the digestion process has significant water retention benefits which helps to preserve a valuable resource here on the Coast. Glomalin also provides excellent erosion control for your soil and the digested wood chips feed nutrients to your plants directly for at least five years. No human-created energy is used to create or transport the soil, as it is grown naturally right in your own yard. In addition, mushroom mulch can provide natural weed suppression without the use of any chemicals.
Human-created energy is used to create or transport the soil, as it is grown naturally right in your own yard. In addition, mushroom mulch can provide natural weed suppression without the use of any chemicals.

Stropharia Rugoso-Annulata, Wine Caps, or Garden Giants are three names for the edible mushroom strain that you use for garden installations. What are the physical attributes of this mushroom and what does it taste like?
It resembles a large Portobello with a red wine colored cap. It has a deep, rich delicious flavour.

You are a highly trained chef and have been known to sell various edible mushroom food products at farmers markets on the Sunshine Coast. Could you describe your delicious smoked mushroom seasonings and mushroom burgers?
As a chef for over 15 years I love to incorporate my cooking skills with these delicious edibles. I smoke, dehydrate, grind and then spice my mushroom seasonings, which can be incorporated into many different foods. I make lots of healthy choice mushroom burgers made from loads of organic veggies, oats and quinoa (an ancient grain). My next line is Mushroom Pate Sausages that I know will create a buzz for meat eaters as well

Microbes Will Feed the World, or Why Real Farmers Grow Soil, Not Crops – Modern Farmer


INTRO: OOO i am so happy to have found this post. i googled “real soil”. The following is an EXTRACT.
SOURCE: Microbes Will Feed the World, or Why Real Farmers Grow Soil, Not Crops – Modern Farmer.

Out on the horizon of agriculture’s future, an army 40,000 strong is marching towards a shimmering goal. They see the potential for a global food system where pesticides, herbicides and fertilizers are but relics of a faded age.

They are not farmers, but they are working in the name of farmers everywhere. Under their white lab coats their hearts beat with a mission to unlock the secrets of the soil — making the work of farmers a little lighter, increasing the productivity of every field and reducing the costly inputs that stretch farmers’ profits as thin as a wire.

‘Producing more food with fewer resources may seem too good to be true, but the world’s farmers have trillions of potential partners that can help achieve that ambitious goal. Those partners are microbes.’

The American Society of Microbiologists (ASM) recently released a treasure trove of their latest research and is eager to get it into the hands of farmers. Acknowledging that farmers will need to produce 70 to 100 percent more food to feed the projected 9 billion humans that will inhabit the earth by 2050, they remain refreshingly optimistic in their work. The introduction to their latest report states:

“Producing more food with fewer resources may seem too good to be true, but the world’s farmers have trillions of potential partners that can help achieve that ambitious goal. Those partners are microbes.”

Funny Whites: the fish will be the last to discover water


this post in incomplete


I take a look at how, in what way that I find whites funny.

The following documentry speaks eloquently for me.

Qallunaat! Why White People Are Funny

This documentary pokes fun at the ways in which Inuit people have been treated as “exotic” documentary subjects by turning the lens onto the strange behaviours of Qallunaat (the Inuit word for white people). The term refers less to skin colour than to a certain state of mind: Qallunaat greet each other with inane salutations, repress natural bodily functions, complain about being cold, and want to dominate the world. Their odd dating habits, unsuccessful attempts at Arctic exploration, overbearing bureaucrats and police, and obsession with owning property are curious indeed.

A collaboration between filmmaker Mark Sandiford and Inuit writer and satirist Zebedee Nungak, Qallunaat! brings the documentary form to an unexpected place in which oppression, history, and comedy collide.

Forty Years of Energetic Cultural Experiments


Every now and again, I wonder HOW our attempts at  sustainability ARE SUPPOSED TO result in evidential(real)  sustainability, how our “alternative” cultural experiments have helped, apart from entertainment value.

It might be a good time to look at the word “sustainable”. Below are definitions from three online dictionaries.
The adjective “sustainable” (www.oxforddictionaries.com): 1  Able to be maintained at a certain rate or level: sustainable economic growth 1.1 Conserving an ecological balance by avoiding depletion of natural resources: our fundamental commitment to sustainable development 2 Able to be upheld or defended: sustainable definitions of good educational practice
The adjective “sustainable” (www.merriam-webster.com): 1:  capable of being sustained 2a :  of, relating to, or being a method of harvesting or using a resource so that the resource is not depleted or permanently damaged 2b :  of or relating to a lifestyle involving the use of sustainable methods
The noun sustainability (www.dictionary.com): 1. the ability to be sustained, supported, upheld, or confirmed. 2. Environmental Science. the quality of not being harmful to the environment or depleting natural resources, and thereby supporting long-term ecological balance: Example sentence:    The committee is developing sustainability standards for products that use energy.

Feed the Soil ! (not the plants)


i did a google search, and was so delighted! I found some good stuff, namely Paul and Elizabeth , growing along with Nature! Videos below. My eyes are brimming with tears as i watch these videos.  I am so happy to hear about Singing Frogs Farm.

Singing Frogs Farm 


This is an EXTRACT from a wonderful article

SOURCE:  http://craftsmanship.net/drought-fighters/

ne afternoon last March, on a small vegetable farm that Paul Kaiser runs in a particularly chilly valley in Sebastopol, California, a group of agriculture specialists gathered around a four-foot steel pole. The experts had come to test the depth and quality of Kaiser’s top-soil, and one of them, a veteran farmer from the Central Valley named Tom Willey, leaned on the pole to push it into the dirt as far as he could. On a typical farm, the pole comes to a stop against infertile hard-pan in less than a foot. But in Kaiser’s field, the pole’s entire length slid into the ground, and Willey almost fell over. “Wow, that’s incredible,” he said, wondering if he’d hit a gopher hole. The whole group burst out laughing. “Do it again! Do it again!” said Jeff Mitchell, a longtime professor of agriculture at the University of California at Davis.

READ FULL ARTICLE:  http://craftsmanship.net/drought-fighters/


In this article, Jared says, “We know that disturbed soils are generally bacterial-dominated”. I had wondered about that and also still wondering whether or not disturbed soils are more likely to have an acid reading.

SOURCE:    http://www.drweil.com/drw/u/ART03055/Feed-the-Soil-Not-the-Plants.html

Feed the Soil, Not the Plants

feed the soil inside

The concept of organic gardening is NOT new. In fact, the use of chemical fertilizers and poisons are the new concepts, which really became the norm over the course of the twentieth century. Why did we start using such chemicals? To make a long story short, we began to ruin the soil: our plows compacted the lower levels of the soil profile, causing anaerobic conditions that bred pathogens. We also depleted soil fertility by over-farming. In short, we did harm to the biology of the soil, which is essential for plants to live and thrive.

Plants are not independent organisms. They are highly dependent on many other critters in the soil: fungi, bacteria, nematodes, microarthropods, protozoans, insects, worms… the list goes on. We have barely begun to understand all the relationships between plants and these other life forms. In fact, we hardly know anything about soil biology. The vast majority of critters that live in a cup of your garden soil remain unidentified. Part of this problem is that they are so small. It is a difficult world to observe. But we are beginning to understand some important general things about soil.

We know that disturbed soils are generally bacterial-dominated, and often anaerobic. In general most plants (except opportunistic weeds, and some riparian plants) don’t care for these soils because the biological diversity that supports them is mostly missing, and these soils tend to be dominated by opportunistic species of microorganisms. On the other side of the spectrum are the aged, undisturbed soils of wild lands (quickly disappearing from our world). These soils are diverse, and fungal dominated. There are lots of bacteria, but they tend to be more of the kind that support plant life, or are innocuous. If you could have lots of patience, and live an unnaturally long life, you could take soil samples of a disturbed plot of land, and continue to do so throughout all its successive phases: From the weed-dominated plot, to the weed field, to the early grassland, to the developed meadow, to the scrubland, and into, finally, the climax community – the forest (or if you live where I do, the saguaro cactus forest). The soil samples would increasingly get more fungal, less bacterial, and the diversity actually increases, while the out-of-control pathogens are kept in check.

What does this have to do with fertilizing your plants? When you put inorganic fertilizer in the soils, which are heavy salts, or when you spray pesticides, you kill the biology in the soil. You might give the plant a flush of food. But you will have to keep feeding. All that feeding, all those heavy salts, end up poisoning waterways, your drinking water, and sending the soil toward being a useless barren plot. Ironically these salts also create the conditions that select for pathogenic species that harm what we are trying to grow. We also are suspecting that these sorts of fertilizers might not be so good for our health.

So how does a plant get its food otherwise? Is there a fertilizer fairy who skips around sprinkling Miracle Gro? Thank goodness, no.

In a natural, healthy soil lives a universe of critters eating and excreting. Bacteria eat fungi, fungi eat bacteria, nematodes eat fungi, fungi eat nematodes, worms eat more or less everything, and all of them excrete. Or if not fully consumed, their bodies lay there, caches of nutrients for the taking. Plants are part of this process. Roots actually exude materials that attract fungus and bacteria to gather where they are, so that they can take advantage of this game, too. Some bacteria and fungus actually directly feed plants in exchange for food the plant provides. Fungus can even extend the roots of the plants, growing from the tips out, further into the soil helping the plant find more water and nutrients.

So the operative activity for gardeners should not be “feeding plants,” but rather encouraging a healthy soil ecosystem in which plants will naturally thrive, and play a part in maintaining these cycles.

By Jared R. McKinley, Guest Commentator
DrWeil.com News

SOURCE:    http://www.drweil.com/drw/u/ART03055/Feed-the-Soil-Not-the-Plants.html

The Truth About Minerals in Nutritional Supplements Part C


long article by Robert Thiel as three separate posts.   Part A   Part B   Part C

source:  http://www.doctorsresearch.com/articles3.html

The Truth About Minerals in Nutritional Supplements Part C

by Robert Thiel, Ph.D., Naturopath

Food and Food Processing

“In the historic struggle for food, humans ate primarily whole foods or so-called natural foods, which underwent little processing…The nutrient content of food usually decreases when it is processed” [77].  “Intensive animal rearing, manipulation of crop production and food processing have altered the qualitative and quantitative balance of nutrients of food consumed by Western society.  This change, to which the physiology and biochemistry of man may not be presently adapted to, is thought to be responsible for the chronic diseases that are rampant in the Industrialized Western Countries” [78].  Some reports suggest that simply taking a synthetic multi-vitamin/mineral formula does not change this [79,80].

Dr. Burr-Madsen has written,

Nutrition ‑ in its most basic sense the process by which the organism finds, consumes, liberates, absorbs, and utilizes the nutrients it must have to live. Although food and therefore nutrients are seemingly plentiful, because of modern use of chemical herbicides and pesticides as well as poor air quality and bad water, the nutrients we buy in the market are very inferior. Human bodies require nutrition found in the form of plants, meat, milk, eggs and water, but all animals get their food directly or indirectly from plants, and all plants get their food from the soil. Therefore mineral deficient soil may be one of the greatest original sources of disease in the world today.

Real soil

We cannot appreciate enough the importance of our relationship with the land, with soil.  This is particularly so in this era of artificial chemicals, artificial foods, and the abundance of artificial materials on which we have come to depend. This system cannot replace real soil and the living food crops it produces. Our dependence on artificial, man­made products interferes with our relationship with the soil and the natural world in general. Because of this Nutritional supplementation is necessary.

Soil condition.
After genetics and weather, the condition of the soil is the most important factor in the nutrient content of any plant food and, indirectly, of animal foods. The soils of the world have suffered, and continue to suffer, at the hands of farming. The present food production system, while correcting some abuses of the past, inflicts on the soil a variety of new and old insults that diminish its nutrient value. Because of intensive farming, poor crop management, erosion, commercial fertilization, the use of pesticides, and other problematic factors, much of the soil in which our crops are now raised has been depleted, particularly of essential minerals.

The Human Food Chain.

The human food chain includes animals, animal products and plants, which depend directly or indirectly on the soil. Plants draw their nutrients and general health from a complex of inorganic and organic factors. Inorganic substances include oxygen and carbon, nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium, along with iron, calcium, and an array of other minerals. The chief organic factors range from decaying plant material and animal wastes to earthworms and an amazing variety of microscopic organisms including bacteria, fungi, algae, and protozoa (Hall 1976: 134). All of these elements are important to the health and nutrient value of the crop ‑ and of the animals that feed on it.

Healthy soil.

Healthy soil is America’s greatest natural resource. But few realize that the current state of wide spread soil erosion in North America threatens our way of life. It may be hard to believe, but only a few inches of topsoil stand between you, me, and starvation. We cannot appreciate enough the importance of our relationship with the land, with soil. What is popularly called topsoil is the rich, nutrient‑laden cover of the Earth’s crust from which food crops draw their sustenance. Underneath the topsoil there may be clay, shale, or rock ‑ Substances that do not support food crops. It is only in the precious shallow topsoil that plants are seeded, germinated, sprouted, nurtured, and grown. These plants serve as food for animals on the lowest ends of the food chain. Animals that eat these plants supply food to animals on the highest ends of the food chain. Attention is important because topsoil is easily exhausted from lack of care. The best farmers replenish the soil as it is farmed. Unfortunately, this practice has become an exception to the rule, this is particularly so today.

Depleted Soil.

When the soil becomes depleted, the plants often show symptoms of poor nutrition, much like human deficiency diseases. For example, a general yellow or pale green color (chlorosis) indicates a lack of sulfur and nitrogen and a white or pale‑yellow color iron deficiency. Some of these deficiencies are apparent enough to hurt the marketability of the crop. Most, however, are not visible to the shopper’s or even the farmer’s eye, and the crop is shipped to market deficient as it is. The toll that fertilization and pesticides take on the soil is wide‑reaching, ultimately including the kind of soil erosion that is now plaguing the Midwest. The most direct and immediate loss are the mineral and vitamin deficiencies in the soil that are passed up the food chain to humans (it is a domino effect) [81].

Commercial food processing definitely reduces the nutrient content of food [81, 82] and can be dangerous to human health [83].  The refining of whole grains (including wheat, rice, and corn) has resulted in a dramatic reduction of their natural food complex nutrition [11,82]; specifically the milling of wheat to white flour reduces the natural food complex vitamin and mineral content by 40-60% [82].  Food refining appears to reduce trace minerals such as manganese, zinc, and chromium [2] and various macrominerals (such as magnesium) as well [10,56].  The treatment of canned or frozen vegetables with ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid (EDTA) can strip much of the zinc from foods [11].  The high incidences of disorders of calcium metabolism [28] suggest that the forms of calcium many are consuming simply do not agree with the body (and sometimes result in calcium loss [11]).

Organically-grown produce appears to contain higher levels of some essential minerals than does conventionally (non-organically) grown produce [84,85] and appears to contain lower levels of toxic heavy metals [86].   Even if modern food practices did not affect nutrition (which they do), all minerals that humans need for optimal health do not exist uniformly in soils. “Soils in many areas of the world are deficient in certain minerals; this can result in low concentrations of major or trace minerals in drinking water, plant crops, and even tissues of farm animals, thus contributing to marginal or deficient dietary intakes of humans [76]. From a geological perspective, a few examples include iodine, molybdenum, cobalt, selenium, and boron [2,70,77].  Although humans need at least twenty minerals (over sixty have been found in the body), most plants can be grown with only the addition of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium compounds [2].  If other minerals necessary for human health are reduced in the soil, the plant can (and will) grow without them.  This means, though, that constantly farming the same ground can result in the reduction of some of the essential minerals we as humans require for optimal health [78].

Ground Up Rocks Pose Risks

Rock minerals are not optimal for human health and post health risks.  Perhaps it should be mentioned that typical multi-vitamin-mineral formulas are dangerous and do not result in optimal health.  A study involving 38,772 women in the USA who took synthetic multi-vitamins with ground up rock minerals found that the women died earlier than those who did not take them [87].  Other studies have concluded that the acid-processed rocks that many take as calcium supplements increase risk of cardiovascular disease and other problems [88]—yet those studies did not find problems with food calcium.

Ground-up rocks are dangerous to ingest.  Yet, 100% food vitamins and minerals are beneficial as well as essential to human health and longevity.

Conclusion

No matter how many industrially produced mineral supplements one takes orally, they will:

1) Never be a truly complete nutrient source.
2) Never replace all the functions of food minerals.
3) Always be unnatural substances to the body.
4) Always strain the body by requiring that it detoxify or somehow dispose of their unnatural structures/chemicals.
5) Never be utilized, absorbed, and retained the same as food nutrients.
6) Not be able to prevent advanced protein glycation end-product formation the same as food nutrients.
7) Never be able to have the antioxidant effects the same as food nutrients.
8) Always be industrial products.
9) Always be composed of petroleum-derivatives, hydrogenated sugars, acids, and/or industrially-processed rocks.
10) Never build optimal health the same as food nutrients.

Industrially processed minerals can have some positive nutritional effects, yet they are not food for humans, but they also pose risks [87-88].

Unlike humans, plants have roots or hyphae which aid in the absorption of minerals.  Plants actually have the ability to decrease the toxicity of compounds by changing their biochemical forms [14].  Plants are naturally intended to ingest rocks; humans are not [1].

The truth is that plants, or supplements only made from plants, are the best form of mineral supplement for humans, yet most people who take nutritional mineral support consume some type of industrially processed rock.

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Some of these studies (or citations) may not conform to peer review standards. Therefore, the results are not conclusive. Professionals can, and often do, come to different conclusions when reviewing scientific data. None of these statements have been reviewed by the FDA. All products distributed by Doctors’ Research, Inc. are nutritional and are not intended for the treatment or prevention of any medical condition.

Biodiversity and Habitat


biological activity in soil

Soil supports the growth of a variety of unstressed plants, animals, and soil microorganisms, usually by providing a diverse physical, chemical, and biological habitat.

The ability of soil to support plant and animal life can be assessed by measuring the following indicators:

Biological Activity Indicators including active fungi, earthworms, microbial biomass, potentially mineralizable nitrogen, respiration, soil enzymes.

Biological Diversity Indicators including habitat diversity and diversity indices for organisms such as bacteria, macro and microarthropods, nematodes, and plants.

What do plants, animals, and microbes need from soil?

Microbes need soil for:

  • Food. Most microbes need regular inputs of organic matter (e.g. plant residue) into the soil.
  • Space. Larger soil organisms such as nematodes and insects need enough space to move through soil.
  • Air. Most soil organisms require air, though some require a lack of oxygen. They live in low-oxygen micro-sites such as within soil aggregates. Generally, soil biological activity is enhanced by an increase in soil aeration.

Plants need soil for:

  • Support of the microbiological activity necessary for plant growth.
  • Support for, and minimum resistance to, root penetration.
  • Intake and retention of water in soil, while maintaining adequate aeration.
  • Exchange of soil air with the atmosphere.
  • Resistance to erosion.
  • Mineral and organic sources of nutrients.
  • In addition, farmers need adequate traction for farm implements to grow crops.

Animals and people need soil for:

  • Healthy plant growth.
  • Availability of nutrients essential for animal health. These are absorbed by plants, but are not necessarily essential for plant health.

All organisms need:

  • Low levels of toxic compounds.
  • Filtering of water and air.

At a landscape scale, a variety of soil environments are needed to support a variety of plants, animals, and microorganisms. (Lists adapted from Yoder, 1937, and Cihacek, 1996.

Diversity of soil and soil organisms

Each animal, plant, and microbe species requires a slightly different habitat. Thus, a wide variety of habitats are required to support the tremendous biodiversity on earth. At the microbial level, diversity is beneficial for several reasons. Many different organisms are required in the multi-step process of decomposition and nutrient cycling. A complex set of soil organisms can compete with disease-causing organisms, and prevent a problem-causing species from becoming dominant. Many types of organisms are involved in creating and maintaining the soil structure that is important to water dynamics in soil. Many antibiotics and other drugs and compounds used by humans come from soil organisms. Most soil organisms cannot grow outside of soil, so it is necessary to preserve healthy and diverse soil ecosystems if we want to preserve beneficial microorganisms. Estimated numbers of soil species include 30,000 bacteria; 1,500,000 fungi; 60,000 algae; 10,000 protozoa; 500,000 nematodes; and 3,000 earthworms (Pankhurst, 1997).

Cihacek, L.J., W.L. Anderson and P.W. Barak. 1996. Linkages between soil quality and plant, animal, and human health. In: Methods for Assessing Soil Quality, SSSA Special Publication 49.

Pankhurst,C.E. 1997. Biodiversity of soil organisms as an indicator of soil health. In: Biological Indicators of Soil Health. CAB International.

Yoder, R.E. 1937. The significance of soil structure in relation to the tilth problem. Soil Sci. Soc. Am. Proc. 2:21-33.