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Soil Ecosystem – How it works

SymSoil RC contains bacteria, fungi (hyphea on the right), amoebae, nematodes (lower left), humic acids (the golden materials), biochar and organic matter.

Soil Nerds may be disadvantaged versus Tech Nerds, since in Silicon Valley there are many who speak “Tech Nerd Code”, and those who speak “Soil Nerd Code” are part of the nascent Regenerative Agriculture movement.

Regenerative Agriculture (RegenAg) is the next step in the transition from organic farming, to sustainable produce, to to locally focused food. In Regenerative Agriculture, the goal is soil that is healthier over time, by working with nature and natural process. There have been many attempts to graphically convey the Soil Food Web. This chart, while not as picturesque as the classic Soil Food Web graphic is a good representation, in plain English, of how the soil microbe ecosystem functions to feed plants.

Healthy soil has 10,000’s of species: bacteria, fungi, amoebae, flagellates, other protozoa, nematodes, earthworms and microscopic insects.  The soil microbe biome has much in common with the gut microbe biome, and organic matter feeds each component. Sometimes referred to as the Soil Food Web, this complex living system is how nature intended plants to get their nutrients.

Soil Food Web flowchart
The Soil Food Web has components that cover multiple orders of magnitude. This flowchart captures the role of each component.

The plants extrude sugars and other chemicals, which encourage the growth of bacteria and fungi. These bind the minerals and nutrients, and when they are consumed by the higher trophic levels (the wee critters that eat the bacteria and fungi), this releases the nutrients in a plant available form.

In contrast, commodity compost is food for the microbes. This is the low value product your local nursery or large composter sells, In an effort to kill pathogens, the manufacturing process essentially cooks the decomposing material, and kills everything … effectively sterilizing their product. 

If a mainstream composter is are lucky enough to have the beneficial microorganisms go dormant, which is how skilled craftsmen making Soil Food Web (SFW) Compost manage the balance between killing pathogens and keeping beneficial microbes alive, their final steps kill the beneficial microbes. Their equipment for sizing particles, shedding materials and turning guarantee the death of all the higher trophic levels of the soil microbe biome. It is these higher trophic levels, the amoebae, beneficial nematodes and flagellates, which consume the bacteria and fungi and, in doing so, release nutrients to be absorbed by the roots.

Soil Food Web, classic graphic from USDA Website

SymSoil contains all of the microscopic forms of life in healthy soil.  We manage this with a patent (pending) process. Basically, we treat the beneficial microbes gently and provide them with the optimal environment to grow, reproduce and remain available to improve soil health for our customers.

Robust Compost is  a complex community of soil microbes, in a solid transport medium.  The soil microbe biome is a complete ecosystem and is the equivalent to the human gut biome for plants.  It was originally described, in the academic literature by Dr. Elaine Ingham, as the Soil Food Web.

Support SymSoil by purchasing our products https://symsoil.myshopify.com/

What is Robust Compost?


Soil Biology and the Eastern Perspective on Health – A Guest Blog from Dr. Ting Ho


Soil Food Web – SymSoil’s Perspective

 About SymSoil

SymSoil is a leader in development of biological soil amendments for agriculture that restores the microbes that provide the right food to the plant roots, improving plant health, and making food more nutrient dense and flavorful, the way nature intended. SymSoil has products and services for growers using regenerative agriculture methodologies which improve profitability. Its flagship product, SymSoil® RC (Robust Compost) is a complex community of soil microbes, which includes in excess of 1,000 species, covering broad biodiversity of bacteria, fungi, amoebae, and other protozoa, beneficial nematodes and microarthropods. SymSoil was named one of 2019’s AgTech Companies to Watch.

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