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Soil Food Web

Last updated: May 2, 2017

What Does Soil Food Web Mean?

In horticulture, the soil food web refers to the community of living micro-organisms and organisms that live out and complete their life cycle below ground level.

An extremely complex system, the soil food web also includes the interaction between animals and plants, as well as their surrounding environments. The interaction between these different organisms are crucial for optimal soil health.

Gardeners, especially organic gardeners, pay special attention to their soil food webs by ensuring it is teeming with beneficial microbes. Beneficial microbes, including the all-powerful mycorrhizal fungi, are essential to the soil food web, and the most successful growers make them a mainstay in their gardens. These components of a soil food web are great at protecting plants in stressful conditions, and helping them thrive in ideal ones.

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Maximum Yield Explains Soil Food Web

First coined by Dr. Elaine R. Ingham, the term soil food web is quite similar to a food chain. However, the soil food web is not as linear as a regular food chain because prey and predators alike are both engaged in a cyclical, somewhat symbiotic relationship.

Most soils are composed of two layers: minerals, which are mainly found in the non-living part of the soil, and the soil biota layer, which comprises of a multitude of living organisms. Soil biota can be both beneficial and detrimental to gardeners; in some cases, it can support healthy plants while boosting the overall soil health. In other cases, some forms of soil biota can trigger issues such as mildews, mold, root rots, and blights.

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