Soil Biodiversity

  • Soil biodiversity refers to the variety of life within the soil.  It includes all living soil organisms – insects, spiders, worms, molluscs, protozoa, nematodes, algae, fungi, bacteria, viruses, plants and animals.
  • Soil organisms perform vital roles in the soil.  They –
    • Recycle nutrients and break down organic matter;
    • Exchange gases with the atmosphere and capture carbon;
    • Affect the availability of water for plants and influence the structure and texture of soil;
    • Suppress pests and diseases and affect plant growth.
  • Soil ecosystems are one of the most complex natural systems on the planet – and also one of the least understood.
  • The number of organisms in soil, and how ‘alive’ it is,  is usually drastically underestimated.
  • A healthy, biologically active soil is resilient and will buffer changes, such as in climate and land management.
  • Soil biodiversity supports all above ground biodiversity.
  • Traditionally, soil has been considered as a mineral medium, rather than a living one.
  • To underpin our health, food and environment, we must improve our understanding of soil biodiversity.
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Photo Sally McInnes-Clarke, OEH