This post aims to explore all the different functions of soil microbes and get to the bottom of why they are necessary for your soil even if you are already applying fertilizer!
Soil microbes are microorganisms like bacteria, fungi, and protozoa that live in the soil. They break down organic matter and produce nutrients, humic compounds, as well as carbon dioxide needed for photosynthesis. They are what keep the ‘nutrient recycling’ process functioning.
A soil microbes-based product can serve multiple functions. Among these various functions soil microbes-based products can serve as: 1) a soil amendment to improve soil ecosystems 2) a plant growth stimulant that also functions as a pseudo-fertilizer, and 3) a pesticide that can supplement or replace conventional insecticides and fungicides.
The specific category and function of asoil microbes-based product depend on the type of microbes used, and within that type, which strains of those microbes are included. For example, some beneficial bacteria are good at nitrogen fixation while others are good at converting fixed nutrients into readily available forms. Alternatively, some fungi can be used to kill pathogenic bacteria while others help solubilize fixed phosphate. These are just some of the possible functions of microbes; an increasing amount of research on microbiology is being done to understand the individual behavior and characteristics of different soil microbes in different environments and conditions. As we learn more about soil microbes, we can expect to see more varied microbial products in the future.
Here are 4 Reasons Why Soil Microbes are Essential to Your Gardens, Fields, and Orchards:
Regardless of how much fertilizer is applied, nutrient availability is very restricted for plants. This is due to mainly two reasons. First, plant roots can only reach a limited area in the soil and thus cannot intake a sufficient amount of nutrients within the reachable space. A clear example can be seen in [Image 1], which shows mid to high levels of basically all nutrient elements that remain in the soil even after harvesting crops in 2021, suggesting that the crops were not able to fully absorb and utilize the available nutrients in the surrounding soil. Second, many nutrients in the soil are fixed, meaning that they are not immediately available and absorbable by plants. This is where soil microbes become essential: Mycorrhizal fungi form structures that serve as root extensions and Trichoderma encourage the growth of plant roots, resolving the first issue, while various different microbes solubilize fixed nutrients, resolving the second issue.
In a natural environment, microbes that already live in the soil can carry out these functions to some degree. However, in depleted soils or in cases when high yields are required, the naturally available soil microbes are not sufficient nor reliable. For this reason, it is necessary to apply additional soil microbes to even fertile grounds, and this additional application can make all the difference.
[Image 1] An actual soil test report from a corn field in GA
All Microbial Applications products are compatible with most chemical/organic fertilizers and pesticides. No separate applications are required.
Many growers are already well-aware of the countless benefits of soil microbes. However, they hesitate to use microbial products due to the misguided notion that it will be more costly. By implementing our products in your growing practices, you will be able to see many short-term & long-term results and effects that will reduce costs both immediately and gradually.
Short Term Cost-Savings:
The Restore Our Earth campaign at Microbial Applications aims to decrease GHG (Greenhouse Gas) emissions in gardening and farming.
Microbial Applications products can significantly improve fertilizer efficiency and lessen waste by reducing the amount of unused fertilizer runoff. They can also reduce significant amounts of CO2emissions produced by various conventional growing activities chemicals (fertilizers & pesticides), fuel consumption by machinery, etc. While each of our products help reduce greenhouse gas emissions by as little as 5lbs. and as much as 2000 lbs., they are able reduce emissions even further than what is explicitly calculable. They do this directly by replacing harmful products and indirectly by reducing the need for carbon-intensive products and methods through enduring improvements of soil conditions.
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