Twelve Good Reasons to Improve Soil Health – Part 3 of 3

Published by Chris Ellery at Soil Foodweb Institute, Soil Rehab Specialists since 1986

Reduce Pests and Improve Disease Resistance

Crop-crippling pest infestation and disease occurs when there is a lack of biodiversity. A mono-crop grown in soil without a healthy biology is extremely vulnerable to massive pest infestation because it is a concentrated food source with no protective ecology. A healthy soil food web supports pest predators that keep harmful organisms from over-populating and destroying your crop. A well-balanced ecology also provides the natural nutrient cycling that keeps plants healthy. Just like with humans, plants are more susceptible to disease when they are stressed from lack of nutrition. The Soil Foodweb approach is the preventative medicine that makes plants strong enough to resist disease.

Reduce Weeds/Condition Soil for New Crop

The Soil Foodweb approach seeks to match crops with their ideal soil conditions. Different plants require different ratios of fungus and bacteria based on the successional state of the ecosystem in which they originated. Some plants are naturally acclimated to forest soils which are strongly fungal dominated, and other plants are acclimated to grasslands that are more bacterially dominated. The biology in the soil can enhance or impede plant growth based on the symbiotic or antagonistic relationships that are made between microbes and plants. Recommendations from our lab and consultants take crop type into consideration and help you to acclimatise the soil’s fungal/bacterial ratios to support the desired crop. Conditioning the soil’s biology to compliment your crop will increase nutrient uptake and give the desired crop an edge over weeds that try to compete. Many weeds are vigorous in unhealthy soils because they are adapted to those conditions. If the soil is healthy, and supporting a successful crop, it will be more difficult for weeds to establish themselves.

Create Natural Nutrient Cycling

The most productive systems in the world are the ones with the most flourishing biology because nutrients are being cycled in a way that is supportive to every aspect of the environment. Insects and worms shred dead plant matter, creating increased surface area for bacteria and fungi to consume and decay. Larger organisms eat the bacteria and fungi and excrete excess nutrients, making them available to plants. Plants grow from these nutrients and eventually deposit more dead organic matter for the microbes to continue to cycle.

Enhance Crop Quality

The relationship between life in soil and life of plants is inseparable. Plants’ ability to move their roots through soil and find essential nutrients is dependent on the soil’ s texture, structure and nutrient content. The biology in the soil creates movement of space and organic matter to aid the ease of root exploration. It is also the mechanism by which nutrients are made available to plants: through decomposition and excretion of dead organic matter. When these two biological processes are functioning properly, plants are able to produce at the optimum level naturally supported by the environment.


*Ref. From an email sent by Christopher Ellery, Soil Foodweb Institute, 1 Crawford Road, Lismore 2480, Australia