Ecosystem Services of the Soil Food Web
A restored soil food web has positive impact on yields, nature and climate.
- Soil life improves soil structure and can dissolve compacted layers over time. Water can escape more easily and puddles no longer form.
- Water retention capacity of the soil increases due to increasing organic matter content and better structure resulting in less drought susceptibility.
- Nutrients no longer leach because the life in the soil binds the nutrients in its biomass. This also has benefits for water quality.
- Soil fertility improves as the soil life releases nutrients from soil particles and organic matter. These nutrients become available to plants on a just in time basis through the soil food web.
- Diseases have a competitive disadvantage in an oxygen-rich environment. Because there is more competition for space and food from the improved microbial life and the improved structure of the soil provides better oxygen supply, plants are less likely to get sick.
- A complete soil food web, mainly due to the presence of fungi, can capture significantly more CO2 in the form of carbon in the soil than this is the case in other agricultural soils.
Restore the soil food web?
It is possible to restore soil life with home-made compost or worm compost in which the important groups of organisms are present.
If you want to buy organism-rich compost and compost with all desirable organism groups is unavailable, it is probably best to combine fungal dominant compost and good worm compost to get a hold of as many organism groups as possible.
In all cases, it makes sense to look at both soil and compost with a microscope to check if organisms are present or not. 2 weeks after inoculating the soil, another check should be done, to see if the organisms are already present in the soil in the right proportions. In general, this process should be repeated several times until the situation in the soil stabilises.