𝗦𝗲𝗲 𝘁𝗵𝗶𝘀 𝘄𝗲𝗯𝗶𝗻𝗮𝗿 𝗵𝗲𝗿𝗲:
Plants and soil organisms work in an orchestrated chaos: a delightful equilibrium between vegetation and microbiome. Soil organisms transform complex chemical forms into simple molecules or compounds that can be absorbed by plants, providing feedback to plant productivity and re-growth.
Nutrients are chemical elements that are used by plants and other organisms for their growth. Soils are the major terrestrial reservoir of organic carbon and nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorus. Soil nutrient includes those plants need in a large quantity (macronutrients such as nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium) and micronutrients, needed in smaller quantities (iron, manganese, boron, molybdenum, copper, zinc, chlorine, nickel, sulfur, and cobalt). A deficiency of one of the nutrients may result in decreased plant quality and/or productivity. As a consequence, nutrient deficiency can induce the reduction of overall biodiversity since plants underpin above-ground and below-ground food webs.
Plants, too, influence soil (chemical, physical and biological properties) by introducing nutrients and organic matter, through photosynthesis and other biological processes. For example, leguminous plants receive nitrogen, a limiting nutrient in several soils, in the form of ammonia, thanks to rhizobium, an N2-fixing bacteria that form nodules in the plants’ roots. In return, rhizobium receives nutrients and habitat from the roots. The influence of plants on the biotic and abiotic properties of soil can alter the ability of soil to support microbiome diversity.
These biological activities that operate at a small scale, result in major functional outputs: carbon transformation, nutrient cycling, formation of soil structure, and biocontrol, functioning as regulating services (climate, floods, erosion, pests) and ultimately contributing to human well-being.
In this second webinar of the series “Healthy, living and resilient soils”, we talked about the importance of respecting plant-soil interdependence, highlighted the most recent technological advances and the challenges still to be overcome in this research area.