Benefits of a Healthy Foodweb

Although not apparent to the naked eye, a healthy soil is a dynamic living system that is teeming with life. Most of the organisms that live in the soil are beneficial micro-organisms such as fungi, bacteria, protozoa and nematodes. While seemingly insignificant, they are represented in the millions in any given soil, providing a range of important services that promote plant growth and vigour. The collective term for all of these organisms is the ‘soil foodweb’. The interactions amongst these organisms can provide plants with many of the requirements that they need to survive and flourish, which includes the availability & retention of nutrients, disease suppression, and the building of soil structure. However soil biology is an aspect that has been largely over looked with many growers preferring to settle for something delivering a quick short term fix. The use of chemicals to kill pathogens and pests can also kill the beneficials. The result is a sterile environment conducive to further disease and nutrient deficiencies. The quick fix often leads to a grower’s dependency on more and more chemical and artificial fertilisers to maintain his crops. Soil Foodweb Institute NZ has been working with NZ soils since 2003 and by utilizing their services you will learn how you can manage and maintain a balanced and healthy soil. A balanced soil food web provides many benefits including the reduction in the use of pesticides & fertilizers and a reduction in water requirements.

What makes a healthy soil Food web?

A healthy foodweb occurs when:

All the organisms that a plant requires are present and functioning

Nutrients are held securely in the soil until released in plant available forms as the plant requires them

The correct ratio of fungi to bacteria is present for the specific plant group

The functions of the foodweb are:

Retention of nutrients so that they do not leach into ground water or volatize into the atmosphere

Nutrients are cycled into the right form, at the right rates, at the right time for plants

Building of soil structure so that atmospheric gases and water can move easily through the soil and allow the plant to develop a deep well structured root system

The creation of humus and sequestration of carbon

Suppression of disease-causing organisms by competition of beneficials

Production of plant=growth promoting hormones

Breakdone and/or tie-up of toxic compounds and heavy metals