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Nutrient Dense Food and Soil Biology

What is the soil food web?
The soil food web refers to the living biology of the soil and how it impacts plant growth and soil structure. Most of the soil dwelling critters are things like bacteria, fungi, nematodes and protozoa which can’t be seen with the naked eye, but includes the things we can see like worms, springtails, and slaters. Bacteria and fungi break down and feed on inorganic mineral particles and organic matter in the soils, incorporating minerals in their bodies as they go. The nutrient is not available to plants in this form. As a plant grows, it absorbs energy through photosynthesis and carbon dioxide. Up to 40% of this energy gets sent to the plant roots and is exuded into the soil as proteins and sugars. The bacteria and fungi feed on these exudates and colonise around the plant roots. Nematodes and other organisms feed on the bacteria and fungi, releasing the absorbed nutrients directly at the plant roots, making it available to the plant. The soil food web depends on living plant roots exuding protein and sugars to feed on, and the plant depends on the soil food web delivering minerals to grow. Some microbes will live on inorganic matter alone, but there will be a bigger and more diverse community where there are living plant roots. A diverse community of microbes will make more nutrient available to the plant roots, effectively increasing the reach of the roots into different layers of the soil. Plant roots on their own have no ability to extract nutrient from organic matter, they are dependent on the soil biology to extract the nutrient and make it available in the root zone. Being a good organic gardener means being a microbe farmer.
Soil composition

Soil composition

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Bio-Char Solutions

By Katerina Seligman
I am writing to you to get your attention for a moment to tell you about a process that offers solutions to some of the major social and environmental issues of the day: third world poverty,  nitrogen losses from soils (which pollute rivers and lakes), depletion of soil productivity, and above all climate change.
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Travel Green – even internationally.

This is a truly pioneering initiative to begin getting the infrastructure in place for the post air travel world. Meet Voyage Vert, the sailors who are getting the fleet of yachts ready to transport people and goods across the oceans, without carbon emissions.
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Two Very Successful & Completely Different Growing Systems

Here are two very different organic food growing systems which I love. One is an intensive urban, aquaponic, multi-level system, and the other involves doing nothing other than spreading wood chips and trusting nature. Yet both work and both are inspirational.
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An overlooked answer to climate change right beneath your feet

In a world of excess carbon, a solution to the climate crisis will not only require lower greenhouse gas emissions, but also a strategy for sequestering the emissions already released into the atmosphere. One major sink for carbon is healthy soil rich with organic matter.
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The Value of Humus (one of my fav TED talks)

Great TED talk by Graeme Sait on soil health, humus and climate change.


Recommended Reading (even if you’re not a gardener)

Here are a few books I’ve read that most influence how I garden, and how I live. Like most good books, they are worth reading even if you are not a gardener.
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