WW-07403 Reviewed 2008Part of The Soil Management Series
While you work long hours to produce tons of hay or corn from each acre of land, tons of bacteria, fungi, insects, and other organisms are working underground, making farming possible. They decompose organic matter and transform nutrients into forms your crops can use. They help build good soil tilth, enhance crop growth, and control pests.
|In this publication|
How can you benefit from better management of the soil biological community?
Reduced input costs. Less fertilizer may be needed if nutrient cycling becomes more efficient and less fertilizer is lost from the rooting zone. Fewer pesticides are needed where a diverse set of pest-control organisms are active. As soil structure improves, tillage becomes easier and potentially less costly.
Pollution prevention. Soil organisms filter and detoxify chemicals and absorb the excess nutrients that would otherwise become pollutants when they reach groundwater or surface water.
Improved yield and crop quality. Soil organisms are key to forming good soil structure or tilth. Good tilth promotes better root development and water storage. Many microorganisms enhance crop growth or reduce the activity of disease organisms that can degrade the quality of food and feed.
How well are you taking care of your underground "herd"?
Your land management choices help determine what lives in your soil and how well your soil works for you. This publication will help you consider the effects of management decisions on the soil community.
|A night crawler has pulled a dead corn leaf into its burrow. Earthworms are some of the most visible members of the soil community, but tons of bacteria, fungi, and other organisms are also essential to soil productivity.|
Copyright © 2002 Regents of the University of Minnesota. All rights reserved.
In accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act, this material is available in alternative formats upon request. Please contact your University of Minnesota Extension office or the Extension Store at (800) 876-8636.