Life beneath your land

Soil Fertility Soil Structure 

Grassland soils In grassland soils, the soil life below ground often weighs ten times more than the grazing livestock you can see at the surface. Soil organisms are hugely diverse and play a range of critical roles in most soil processes.  Soil biota is a collective term for all these living organisms, excluding plant roots, and is sometimes also simply called soil life.

In grassland systems, soil life:

  • Forms an intricate food web which gets energy from inputs of carbon to the soil in organic matter through plant roots, crop residues and livestock excreta;
  • Powers nitrogen fixation through the symbiosis between rhizobia and legumes;
  • Drives phosphorus, nitrogen and sulphur cycling to recycle nutrients back into a plant available form;
  • Stabilises soil structure and allows the soil to absorb intense rainfall through an open pore network;
  • Develops a sponge-like pore network to hold on to water and support pasture growth through drought.

Farm management practices can both help and hinder the biological processes happening in the soil. Wherever possible farmers should seek to manage soil conditions to provide the best food and living conditions for soil organisms so that they can function in harmony and maintain fertile and productive soils.

 

 

Related Links & Publications