Soil Biology: Topsoil

In this video: Learn about the 3 key elements of good healthy topsoil.

3 Elements to Soil Biology

Plants in the Wet Tropics need a good topsoil to thrive and a good healthy topsoil has lots of life in it, otherwise known as soil biology. There are 3 elements to soil biology:

  1. Microbes
  2. Organisms
  3. Plant roots

Soil Microbes

In a handful of soil there are millions and millions of soil microbes and they play a really important role in your soil. Your soil microbe community includes:

  1. Bacteria - these are really really small and obviously you can't see them.
  2. Fungi - sometimes you can see these guys breaking down organic matter
  3. Protozoa who you can't see but they're a little bit bigger than the bacteria and fungi. All of these three guys who help cycle your nutrients, they break down organic matter and they help control diseases.

These help cycle the nutrients, break down organic matter and help control disease.

Soil Organisms

A healthy topsoil should have a diversity of soil organisms in it such as earthworms, beetles and some smaller ones like springtails and mites.

Plants love growing in soils where there are lots of healthy soil organisms because they help to create soil structure and they also help with the nutrient cycling in your soil.

Living Roots of Plants

Plant roots are often forgotten about but they're the most important part of your soil's biology. Living roots give off lots of sugars and compounds into the soil which provides food for all the other living things - microbes and soil organisms.

Benefits of Good Soil Biology

Soil microbes, soil organisms and living plant roots make up your soil's community and the more diverse it is the better. It will produce the following benefits:

  1. It stores and cycles your nutrients effectively so you get a really efficient use of fertilisers and nutrients like nitrogen and sulfur that can be held in the soil and made available to plants.
  2. It helps to create soil structure which is created by the interaction between living plant roots, soil microbes and soil organisms.
  3. It helps to minimise pests and diseases.

If you want to learn more get in touch with your WTSIP Extension Officer.

organic matter in the wet tropicsNext video: Soil Organic Matter in the Wet Tropics