Getting to the root of your soil

Soils as we might recognise them today are a 400 million year old collaboration between roots and microbes. Microbes produce enzymes and organic acids that break down plant matter and rock-minerals, capturing nutrients therein for their own biomass. Soil food web processes then release those nutrients in a form that roots can absorb. Roots make sure this happens in the ‘rhizosphere’, or even within the root, by coaxing the microbes with carbohydrates from the products of photosynthesis. It is a virtuous circle and the result is soil building, but it takes a very long time. Soils are essentially a non-renewable resource; I believe we need to understand soil forming processes in this microbial sense and encourage as much biogeochemical activity as possible in the ground we grow in.

Are plant roots only ‘in’ the soil or are they ‘of’ it? Roots, soil formation and function

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