Soil Microbiology

Soil health, also referred to as soil quality, is defined as the continued capacity of soil to function as a vital living ecosystem that sustains plants, animals, and humans. This definition speaks to the importance of managing soils so they are sustainable for future generations. To do this, we need to remember that soil contains living organisms that when provided the basic necessities of life – food, shelter, and water – perform functions required to produce food and fiber. (more…)

Over the years in my position as a soil microbiologist at Texas A&M University working with beneficial soil microbes and teaching soil microbiology to a very diverse audience of students I have been approached by many people with countless questions regarding the nature of soil microbes and their normal functions in soils, both cropped and uncropped, including turfgrass soils. The questions have been as diverse as the audiences with whom I have had the pleasure of addressing. Nevertheless, certain questions seem to come up over and over again.(more … )

Although it may not be obvious, healthy soils are chock-full of living organisms. Some are visible to the naked eye, like earthworms, beetles, mites and springtails, but the majority of soil-dwellers are very, very small. They’re also very, very important to soil fertility.  (more …)

What is Soil Microbiology?Soil Microbiology is the branch of soil science concerned with soil inhabiting microorganisms, their functions and activities. What is soil?Soil is the outer, loose earth material which is distinctly different from the underlying bedrock and the region which support plant life.(more…)

Soil is a dynamic habitat for an enormous variety of life-forms. It gives a mechanical support to plants from which they extract nutrients. It shelters many animal types, from invertebrates such as worms and insects up to mammals like rabbits, moles, foxes and badgers. It also provides habitats
colonised by a staggering variety of microorganisms. All these forms of life interact with one another and with the soil to create continually changing conditions. This allows an on-going evolution of soil habitats. (more…)

Dr. Ingham is a world-renowned soil biologist who pioneered many of the currently used biological soil amendment techniques and pioneered the testing of soil microbial life as an indicator of soil and plant health. Dr. Ingham is the Chief Scientist at the Rodale Institute. She is the founder of the Sustainable Studies Institute and the Soil Foodweb Inc. soil testing labs. Dr. Ingham is the key author of the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture’s Soil Biology Primer. She has been the mentor of numerous soil scientists and practitioners of ecologically balanced landscape design, and has helped farmers all over the world to grow more resilient crops by understanding and improving their soil life. (more…)

Soil is a living and life-giving natural resource. As world population and food production demands rise, keeping our soil healthy and productive is of paramount importance. So much so that we believe improving the health of our Nation’s soil is one of the most important conservation endeavors of our time. The resources on this soil health section of our site are designed to help visitors understand the basics and benefits of soil health—and to learn about Soil Health Management Systems from farmers who are using those systems. (more…)

Vermicomposting is a process that relies on earthworms and microorganisms to help stabilize active organic materials and convert them to a valuable soil amendment and source of plant nutrients. Earthworms will consume most organic materials, including food preparation residuals and leftovers, scrap paper, animal manure, agricultural crop residues, organic byproducts from industries, and yard trimmings. This website provides cooperative extension agents, interested stakeholders and the general public with information and resources to vermicompost organic materials generated by farms, institutions, businesses and households. (more…)