The Soil Food Web – Compost Puts the Biology Back Into the Soil

Modern agricultural practices have done an incredibly effective job at destroying the optimal functioning of the Soil Food Web. According to Dr. Elaine Ingham, an authority on the subject,

“Our soil teems with a multitude of organisms which provide the necessary work for healthy plants to grow free from disease, pests and infertility. These interconnected interactions and feeding relationships (quite literally “who eats who”) help determine the types of nutrients present in soil, its depth and pH, and even the types of plants which can grow.”

The Soil Food Web

In much the same way that a natural ecosystem works above ground, or in the oceans, so it does in the soil. Dr Elaine Ingham articulates this well in her video about the Soil Food Web. The theory is that if the soil food web is healthy and working correctly then the plants roots are fed by all the microorganisms allowing them to grow efficiently negating the need (and associated expense) for additional inputs such as inorganic fertilizer and other chemicals to grow your plants.

Compost Makes Your Soil Healthy

Here at Soil Solutions we are in the business of keeping your soil healthy. Our compost is packed full of these microorganisms that help keep the soil food web healthy which in turn helping your plants thrive. We have turned to using compost on our farm to help keep some diseases at bay that were affecting our potatoes.

When talking about using compost in large scale farming we are talking about a very small amount of compost, just a light dusting on the field is all it takes to make an impact on the soil.  We apply it at the rate of two tons per acre.  While that may sound like a lot of compost it’s really not. If I could draw a comparison it would be much like peppering my mash potatoes before eating them.  That is one reason it is very important to get the best quality compost you can find because a little can go a long way and make a huge difference in the plants life.

Ideally, on our farm ground we would add one to two inches of compost each year over two or three years to build up the soil food web and then cut back to the dusting that we do now.  This is actually a reasonable approach for most gardeners and landscapers.  Not only would inputs be reduced by adding compost to the soil, but it helps reduce water usage as well.  In times of water shortage it just makes sense to do everything we can to reduce our water consumption.

Nurture the Soil Food Web at all Times

In order to grow healthy plants you need to respect and nurture the soil food web at all times. Feed it organic compost and fertilizer only and let it do its job. Remember healthy food = healthy plants = healthy people.

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I'm part of a family business that enjoys making high quality compost not just for us but for our customers also. I love taking raw components and turning them into beautiful compost that smells like freshly turned earth. Just knowing how much my compost can help out any soil makes all the hard work worth while.

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