Healthy Soil Healthy People

Meet the Life in your Soil

13 June 2017

Understanding the biological processes of the soil is an important part of understanding how plants grow, but what are microbiology? and how does microbiology influence plant health and nutrition?

To answers these questions, let’s turn to the life in soil.


Carbon aka Ca’Bon ‘The Boss’

Soil Organic Carbon (SOC); a component of Soil Organic Matter (SOM)

Ca’Bon knows he’s the boss, because the life in the soil Fun-Guy, Bach Terrier and Mike Robe all rely on him for air, water, food and shelter.

And in return they help him out by breaking down organic matter into carbon, binding soil particles together for stability and making nutrients available for the plants growing in the soil.

For a while now Ca’Bon knows he has been “going up in smoke” when the soil is bare, burnt, tilled or lots of fertiliser and chemicals are used. This negatively affects how well plants grow in the soil, because sometimes there’s not enough Ca’Bon to go around.



Humus aka My Mate Hugh ‘Heavy Lifter’

Humate, Humic, Fulvic; stable Soil Organic Matter

Hugh is known as the ‘Heavy Lifter’ of the soil because his role in soil fertility far outweighs how much room he takes up. He is Ca’ Bon’s right hand man; without Hugh, Ca’Bon literally falls to pieces.

Plants like Hugh; he is a colloid so nutrients are attracted to him, making them easy for plants roots to access.

Like Ca’Bon, Hugh gives microbes a place to live and in return they decompose organic matter to make more Hugh (he’s old so it takes a while).

Hugh protects his buddies and plant roots by buffering against toxicities like chemicals, fertilisers and excess salt.



Fungi aka ‘Fun-Guy’

Arbuscular Mycorrhiza (AM/VAM), Trichoderma, Yeast

Fun-Guy likes to party and make streamers. Ca’ Bon calls them hyphae or filaments, and he doesn’t mind because they improve soil structure.

Plants love Fun-Guy because he releases nutrients from organic matter and can extend their roots to reach far away nutrients and water.

Fun-Guy finds energy and carbon in tricky places, like stubble, dry matter and even wood; it’s an important job because other microbes find it hard to do this.

A sensitive kind of guy, Fun-Guy populations diminish when it gets cold or the soil dries out, but he is affected longer-term by tillage, some chemicals and too much fertiliser.



Bacteria aka ‘Bach Terrier’

Azotobacter, azosporillum, bacilli, pseudomonas, streptomyces

Bach Terrier helps breakdown organic matter, releasing nutrients and he also helps Ca’ Bon keep the soil in ship shape with room for lots of air and water.

Bach Terrier can degrade toxins, fix nitrogen, solubolise phosphorous, and help plants grow with hormones and fight diseases.

Tough guy, Bach Terrier takes top spot in the soil when Fun-Guy gets knocked around, especially when there is lots of nitrogen or soil disturbance.



Microbe aka ‘Mike Robe’

protozoa, amoeba, ciliates,nematode

Mike Robe is an all round good guy, but he’s bigger than Bach Terrier and Fun-Guy. so he eats them!

Plants love this because when Mike Robe eats the team he releases nitrogen and other nutrients.

Sometimes Mike’s nematodes get a bad wrap, but did you know the majority of nematodes in the soil are good guys and help control diseae and cycle nutrients.

Read more about how LawrieCo work with farms to balance the nutrition and biology (life in the soil) to help improve productivity and soil quality in a way that protects the farms greatest asset and importantly, increases the return on investment for farmers for years to come.

Talk to our team of experts to establish where your soil health is at.
In addition to farm observations, we use independent soil analysis and soil microbe testing to customise a nutrient and biological fertiliser plan to suit your farm outcomes.