Understanding your soil
Biological farming systems are based on sustainable, ecological soil management practices which maintain and replenish soil fertility by providing optimum conditions for soil biological activity. The starting point for this is a full soil analysis which measures true fertility, chemistry balance and physical soil problems. The aim is to “feed the soil and the soil will feed the plant” but this can only happen in a balanced biologically active soil.
At the cornerstone of a healthy soil eco-system is humus which influences and is influenced by every other aspect of the soil. Building soil humus improves the chemical and physical properties as well as the biological health. There are several million organisms that live in soil and in the rhizosphere. These organisms – which include bacterial fungi, protozoa, nematodes, mites, springtails and earthworms – perform a complex array of fertility maintenance tasks. Each group of organisms interacts with each other and the plant and it is these interactions which forms the basis of the Soil Foodweb. Most of the micro-organisms contribute directly to humus formation and the release of nutrients from organic matter.
A balanced Soil Foodweb will:
- Minimise the threat from disease-causing and pest organisms
- Improve soil structure by improving water infiltration (holding capacity and Oxygen diffusion)
- Retain nutrients (such as Calcium, Nitrogen, Iron, Potassium, Phosphorus)
- Decompose crop residues, manure and organic matter rapidly as a first stage in humus formation.
- Recycle and release nutrients efficiently for plant growth at the correct time.
- Produce hormones and plant growth regulators not made by the plant itself.
- Consume pollutants and herbicide/pesticides carry-over.
A Soil Foodweb Audit will provide a detailed analysis of the actual and desired biomass and balance of bacteria, fungi, protozoa, nematodes, mycorrhizal fungi and microarthropods in your soil together with notes and recommendations for feeding your soil for a balanced Soil Foodweb.