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Soils differ in many ways, but one of the more important is that they have a population of micro-organisms living in them which derives its energy by consuming organic residues left behind by the plants growing on the soil, or by animals feeding on these plants.

In the final analysis the plants growing on the soil subsist on the products of microbial activity. The micro-organisms are constantly consuming the dead plant and animal remains and in the process leaving behind, in a plant available form, the nitrogenous and mineral components needed by the plants for their growth.

On this concept a fertile soil is one which contains either an adequate supply of plant food in an available form, usually obtained from fertilisers, or a microbial population which is releasing nutrients fast enough to maintain a rapid plant growth.
An infertile soil is one in which neither of these things happen.

These soil organisms need food for two distinct purposes:

  1. To supply energy for their vital processes and
  2. To build up their body tissues

Most of them can only use energy set free when organic substances such as sugars and fatty acids are being oxidised or degraded.
The most common food requirements they have is for simple sugars such as glucose. The next most important food source is fatty acids and nitrogen.

It is for these reasons then that applying small quantities of animal or marine protein can be very effective in restarting a run down microbial population by supplying them with a instant source of simple sugars, amino acids, soluble protein and minerals. All of these attributes can be found in EarthZing .

As the number of microbes multiplies they are efficiently more able to keep up with the supply of dead plant and animal residues. They also break down organic matter into a form easily digested by larger soil animals such as earthworms and so their numbers increase due to their food supplies being improved by the microbes.

The net effect is more efficient utilisation of fertilisers, better soil structure, and better soil drainage.
Lime, soil physics, drainage and soil pH are vital to all the above.

My next blog will discuss the importance of Organic Matter in Soils