Why Soil Organic Matter actually matters
Soil organic matter is a crucial component of healthy soil. It is the product of the decomposition of plant and animal material, and it is a source of essential nutrients for plants. In addition to providing nutrients, soil organic matter has several other important functions.
First, soil organic matter helps to improve soil structure
As organic matter decomposes, it forms humus, which is a stable form of organic matter that binds soil particles together. This helps to create soil aggregates, which are small clumps of soil particles that are held together by organic matter. Soil aggregates improve soil structure by increasing porosity and water-holding capacity.
Second, soil organic matter acts as a sponge, helping to regulate the amount of water in the soil
As organic matter decomposes, it creates a network of pores and channels in the soil that can absorb and store water. This helps to prevent soil erosion and reduce the amount of water that is lost to evaporation.
Third, soil organic matter helps to regulate soil temperature
As organic matter decomposes, it releases heat. This helps to keep the soil warm, which is beneficial for plant growth. In addition, organic matter can insulate the soil, helping to prevent extreme temperature fluctuations that can be harmful to plants.
Fourth, soil organic matter plays a role in the soil ecosystem
It provides a food source for microorganisms, which are essential for maintaining soil health. These microorganisms help to break down organic matter and release nutrients that are available for plants to use. In addition, soil organic matter can support a diverse community of organisms, including worms, insects, and other animals, which can help to improve soil structure and fertility.
Overall, soil organic matter is a vital component of healthy soil. It provides essential nutrients for plants, improves soil structure, regulates water and temperature, and supports the soil ecosystem. To maintain healthy soil, it is important to support the development and maintenance of soil organic matter through sustainable land management practices.