What is soil?
For millions of years plants have been growing and bearing fruit without the assistance of chemical inputs. This is credited to the functions of soil microorganisms continuing to supply nutrients to plants. Having productive life in the ground is what separates soil from dirt.
In soil, there are billions of different types of microorganisms, and each performs its own specific function. These ecosystems of organisms are the direct cause of nutrient availability by storing and releasing nutrients through processes called immobilization and mineralization.
Organisms and Their Functions
Unfortunately Nematodes have a bad rap, as it is common for Root Feeding nematodes to flourish in conventionally degraded soil. However, the presence of beneficial species found in healthy soil contributes to soil structure, and nutrient cycling via consumption of many lower trophic level organisms.
The ovular shaped object in the center of the photo is an Amoebae, which is one type of Protozoa in soil. Protozoa can consume up to 10,000 bacteria per day which meets their required carbon consumption rate. Since bacteria are the most nutrient-concentrated organisms on the planet (low C-N ratio) the protozoa consumes more nutrients than needed, and releases the excess nutrients in a plant available form. This process is called mineralization.
Fungi are of the most fragile group of soil organisms. They are the first to be depleted by conventional practices, yet are arguably the most crucial for a healthy growing environment. This is because Fungi are required in the creation of soil structure, a characteristic necessary for aerobic microorganism activity, and therefore essential for plant health.
The microbial makeup of the soil is what selects for different plant growth. Naturally, different plants are going to require different organisms in different proportions. This is something referred to in the scientific community as 'Succession'
If and when there is a disturbance in the soil, as seen today in conventional farming with excessive tilling and chemical inputs, the microbial diversity and quantities are drastically reduced. When these levels become reduced, the soil, or dirt is more suitable to grow weeds than the intended crop.
Without Terraforma's technology, this process of succession can take thousands of years - which is why we intervene to help mother nature