Microorganisms (microbes) digest organic matter and in the process they provide nutrients to plants (food), and improve the structure of the soil. A gardeners job is to increase the number of microbes in the soil, and to provide the food it needs to be productive. When this is done properly, plants (food) grow well and soil is improved.
Soil Microorganisms (bacteria and fungi) contribute to plant nutrition and root health. These microorganisms digest and decompose organic plant matter (recycles old plant material), and in the process provides essential nutrients to plants (food). They nourish, protect plants and supply our food sources and play a crucial role in providing soil, air, and water services that are absolutely critical to human survival and health.
Some soil bacteria’s and fungi’s form relationships with plant roots that provide important nutrients like nitrogen or phosphorus (MINERALS).
Sustainable crop production from our back yard gardens to our farmers fields, is essential to a healthy and adequate food supply. At ﬁrst glance, a healthy crop reveals only the above ground plant (food); the roots that support the visible plant are seldom seen. These plant roots grow in an incredibly complex environment, teeming with billions of soil organisms, particularly bacteria and fungi, which play a crucial role in promoting positive root health and maintaining an adequate supply of plant nutrients for our food crop growth.
There is much to know and understand about the complex interaction between soil microorganisms and plant nutrition. The importance of these relationships is pertinent to healthy food source and a healthy body.
We have heard how important roots are and how consuming rooted foods aids health. Plants conspicuously modify their soil environment by exuding large amounts of carbon from their roots. This rhizosphere zone (area where plants roots’, chemistry and micro’s extract their growth, respiration and nutrient exchange), becomes a biological hotspot in the soil. Adding carbon to the soil surrounding the roots leads to a huge increase in the number of microorganisms living within and outside the roots. They are a combination of microbes.
Did you know probiotics for soil is the same idea as probiotics for your intestines. It is no accident we come from dust/soils of the earth and we return there. If you are a regular HU Healthy follower of why Humic Acid Mineral is the key to cellular health. This next paragraph will hopefully connect dots for you:-).
Root exudates are composed of a complex mixture of low-molecular weight compounds such as amino acids, organic acids, electrolytes, silica, trace minerals, sugars, and phenolics. Root mucilage, a carbon-rich gel layer surrounding the roots tips, also provides a complex mixture of sugars, proteins, and enzymes to rhizosphere organisms – this is organic plant life – Humic Acid Mineral, an anti-viral food nutrient promoting cellular health, head to toe. Wow!
In some plants, as much as one-third to one-half of all the total carbon assimilated by photosynthesis can be transferred to the soil through the roots of plants. As soluble carbon is released by roots, microorganisms are stimulated and colonize the soil surrounding the roots. This can result in competition for nutrients because plants and microbes rely on the same essential nutrients for growth.
Living organisms have a crucial role in controlling the transformations of plant nutrients into soil. In most soils, N, P and S are mainly present as various organic compounds that are unavailable for plant uptake.
Understanding the role of microorganisms in regulating the conversion of these organic pools into plant-available food forms is key. The microbial conversion of nutrients into a soluble form takes place through numerous mechanisms (see Diagram below).
Extracellular enzymes and organic compounds can be speciﬁcally excreted to solubilize plant-available nutrients from soil organic matter, crop residues, or manures. Organic acids released by microbes can dissolve precipitated nutrients into soil minerals and speed mineral weathering. Nutrients can be made more soluble/digestible (e.g., Fe) as microbes derive energy from oxidation and reduction reactions. Farm management practices, including tillage, irrigation, residue placement, crop residues, manure utilization, addition of speciﬁc biological inhibitors and stimulators, and inoculation are all commonly used to inﬂuence these important microbial processes.
Arbuscular Mycorrhizal Fungi (AMF = numerous crop plants), penetrates the root’s cells and forms an extension of the plant root system through thin hair-like strands (hyphae) that extend into the soil. The small diameter of the fungal hyphae allows greater access to soil pores than roots alone, providing better utilization of water and nutrients, and maintaining root sorption activity in older parts of the root. Mycorrhizal fungi can increase the supply of various nutrients to plants (including Cu/copper, Fe/iron, N/nitrogen, P/phosphorus, and Zn/zinc) in exchange for plant carbon.Phosphorus is an element, and phosphate is a compound that contains phosphorus.
The boost in Phosphate uptake provided by mycorrhizal fungi is especially important for crops with high Phosphate requirements or for plants growing in soil with low concentrations of soluble Phosphate. Mycorrhizal fungi also release various enzymes to solubilize organic Phosphate and they can extract soluble Phosphate from the soil at lower concentrations than plant roots are able to do alone.
You can see how the air, carbon, plants, water all need and feed on each other. Much like we as humans need each other. Stay healthy and kind.
Diagram: Microbial Soil Transformations
Examples of microbially mediated soil transformations that influence plant nutrient availability.
Nutrient – Microbial transformation
Nitrogen – Mineralization, immobilization, nitrification, denitrification, urea hydrolysis, N2 fixation, extracellular protease and chitinase activity.
Phosphorus – Mineralization, immobilization, extracellular phosphatase activity, acidic dissolution of mineral P, facilitated uptake by mycorrhizal fungi.
Potassium – K solubilization
Sulfur – Mineralization, immobilization, oxidation, reduction, extracellular sulfatase activity.
Iron – Change in oxidation state, production of siderophores, chelation.
Zinc – Facilitated uptake by mycorrhizal fungi.
Copper – Facilitated uptake by exudates and mycorrhizal fungi. Manganese – Change in oxidation state