What are Microbes?
Microbes are also known as microorganisms. They are a very small and tiny living organisms that you cannot see with your naked eyes.
They are everywhere in this world; they are in the air, water, soil, and even in the animal and human bodies.
Their numbers in this world are greatly higher than any other organism and they play important roles in our daily lives.
Some of the well-known microbes groups are bacteria, viruses, fungi and algae.
Some of the microbes are beneficial to us and some of them are our enemy.
In term of agriculture, microbe plays a very important role in plant growth development.
Plants even help in taking care of them, for your information, 50% of Carbon created from the photosynthesis process is released through the plants’ root for the microbes to be consumed as food.
Back to our main topic, the question now is how do microbes contribute to the soil fertility?
Now let’s go through one by one on how microbes could contribute to soil fertility.
1. Capture and Fix Nitrogen
For your information, there are some microbes that are helping to prepare the Nitrogen element within the soil for plants to use.
These types of microbes contribute and play important roles in ensuring the healthy growth of plants.
An example of a very well-known and common microbe that is doing this type of job are the nitrogen fixation bacteria.
This type of bacteria helps to fix the nitrogen in the atmosphere into the form that can be absorbed by the plants.
This is due to plants cannot absorb the nitrogen in its original form and can only absorb the nitrogen in the form of Ammonia or Nitrate after the fixation process.
A few examples of bacteria species that are doing this type of job are Azotobacter and Clostridium.
Nitrogen fixation bacteria play a very important role in the nitrogen circle in the atmosphere as 90% of nitrogen fixation is being contributed by these microbes.
2. Improve Soil Structure.
There are also some microbes that help to improve the soil structure.
As we all know soil structure is very important in order to have healthy and vigorous plant growth. The good news is that microbes can also help you in achieving this.
An example of the soil microbe that can help in improving the soil structure is the algae.
Algae is a microbe that can be categorized as micro-flora. As any other floras, algae can produce their own food through the photosynthesis process.
In terms of helping to improve the soil structure, algae will usually produce some type of slimy substance that can fix the soil particle together that is water stable and soluble.
Another type of microbe that can help in improving soil structure same as algae is the cyanobacteria.
The soils particles that were fixed together with the help of the above said microbes will help in increasing the soil moisture content and also reducing the effect of erosion from the running water.
3. Digest Nutrients in the Soil.
Another function of soil microbes is to digest the nutrients in the organic matters within the soil before releasing them back in the form that can be taken by the plants.
It is very well known that microbe plays major roles in the decaying process. The nutrients that are available in the organic matters will not be available to the plants until that organic matters are fully decayed and release back all the nutrients that they contain into the soil.
The decaying process is highly depending on the availability of the microbes in the soils.
The more beneficial microbes you have in your soil, the decaying process will be much faster.
4. Preventing Diseases and Pests Attack
This might be a shocking fact for some of you as we were usually informed that microbes are usually the source of many diseases not only to the human but also to the plants.
However many studies have shown that there are some microbes that can actually help in preventing some type of diseases and pests from ruining your plants.
In the wild, there are bacteria that feed on other bacteria. With this fact, we can leverage it by introducing beneficial bacteria that feed on other bacteria into the soils that are highly populated by harmful bacteria so that they can feed on them.
Studies also revealed that some microbes could actually excrete some sort of antibiotic substance that helps plants to fight pathogens that can cause certain diseases. Mycorrhizal fungi are one of the microbes that are functioning like this.
There are also studies that have been done that showing plants and microbes are actually working closely with each other for mutual benefits.
From the studies, they found that plants can purposely excrete substances that are attracting beneficial microbes to be near them and protect them from the attack of other microbes or pests.
It is some sort of mutual understanding where plants will excrete the substance to be as the food for the beneficial microbes and the microbes will return back the favor by protecting the plants from their enemies.
5. Create Organic Matter for Soil
As mentioned earlier, microbe plays important role in the decaying process which means they actually help in preparing the organic matter for the soils.
As we all know, organic matters help to increase the soil fertility by increasing the water abortion capacity of the soil and improve the air circulation within the soils.
It is very clear that soils that contain more beneficial microbes in them will be more fertile than the soils that contain less beneficial microbes.
6. Preparing the Nutrients Availability in the Soils.
Lastly, microbes are also important in preparing the availability of other soil nutrients (besides the Nitrogen which have been discussed earlier) in the soil such as phosphorus and potassium in their daily activities.
Some of them can also help in the mobilization of nutrients in the soil.
Other microbes can also excrete some type of hormone that can stimulate the plant’s growth.
To conclude the article, we can say that microbes have a major role in soil fertility.
In fact, there are many other ways that they can contribute in helping to improve the soil fertility besides from what have been listed here in this article.
Should you have anything to say or add regarding the topics that we have just discussed, please feel free to write it in the comment section below. Thank you for reading this article.