Microbial communities work in synergy to out-compete antagonistic communities of microbes. This is a balance between "positive" and "negative" microbes. Many microbial species (the good ones) kill or inhibit bacteria, fungi and nematodes (the bad ones) that attack the root systems important for the exchange of valuable nutrients in the soil through competitive exclusion. Positive microorganisms will improve:
- The soil structure by producing glues, hyphae strands and tunnels for air and water
- The soil health by remediating the soil by eating toxic material that would otherwise make for poisonous soil, but they do need quality organic matter to consume with it
- Soil fertility and plant yield by breaking down organic matter and plant residues in the soil and through facilitating nutrient exchange btween root systems and fungi
- Enhance pest and pathogen resistance through outcompeting harmful organisms
An imbalance of soil microbes can result in
- Parasitic infestations
- Root disease
- Breakdown of the soil structure
- A build-up of toxic compounds.
When the soils are repeatedly treated with toxic chemicals, the balance between good and bad is disrupted and the soils can actually become toxic to plants.
Ways to Keep Soil Healthy
Microbe numbers in the soil can be maintained by making sure the soil has plenty of digestible plant material (organic matter) with high levels of natural nitrogen to feed microbes. A blend of proteins from vegetable and animal sources can provide the material to help make this possible. Likewise, regular use of a microbial inoculant like EM will enhance the soil with beneficial microbes to retain or restore microbial balance. High-quality organic composts, grass clippings and lawn litter can also benefit soil microbes. And, of course, harsh pesticides should never be used due to their destructive impact on microbial lifeforms.