For 3.5 billion years nutrient cycling has been performed by thriving micro organisms in the soil. Do we know better?
Since studying the soil food web with Dr. Elaine Ingham and understanding the interactions of all the organisms that live in soil I have been on a mission to improve soil and educate about the power of beneficial bacteria, fungi, protozoa and nematodes.
Tilling slices and dices this biology, especially fungi. Every time you dig up the soil you set the soil food web back and also release carbon that was stored by the root systems and plants that were growing there.
Before we can look at fixing the problem we need to understand succession.
What happens in our soil?
Succession starts with bare dirt with very little nutrient cycling and what will grow there will be weeds. As the weeds and organisms grow and work the soil they set the stage for the next stage in succession. This stage is slightly better and allows things like asparagus, broccoli kale and other brassicas to flourish. These alter the soil further and can set the conditions for more vegetables. Following this you can progress to highly productive glass lands, berries, shrubs, fruit trees and ultimately achieve old growth forest.
Early in succession you will have bacterially dominant soil and in the end it will be hugely fungal dominant.
It is essential to make sure that the organisms are in the soil, relevant to what plants you wish to grow. In terms of carbon sequestration, the further along succession the better.
What's the easiest way to get the biology into our soil?
Make and apply living compost. Sadly, you will not find this in garden cetres or DIY stores. This has to be made by harnessing the naturally occurring power of micro organisms through aerobic decomposition of organic matter. High temperatures must be reached to ensure weed seeds and pathogens are killed and these temperatures can occur naturally. This biology will grow and live in the compost and then further break down the compost into your soil, boosting it's organic matter content to continually feed the soil food web.
This will result in constant nutrient cycling, increased water absorption and retention, and ultimately healthy plants with a strong natural resistance to diseases and pests.