The soil under your feet harbors rich biodiversity consisting of multiple forms of life, from bacteria to fungi to earthworms and more. This natural biodiversity plays a crucial role in fostering soil health and aiding plant growth.
Made by applying high heat to wood materials in an oxygen-deprived environment, biochar is a powerful additive supporting biodiversity and soil health for gardens, farms, or any natural landscape.
An example of the positive impact that biodiversity can have on soil health is that of microbes, which make nutrient cycling possible; this in turn provides plants with the sustenance they need to grow. Similarly, invertebrates like earthworms consume substances and expel waste to ensure soil remains healthy and fertile.
Unfortunately, there are numerous threats that contribute to reduced biodiversity in soil, including:
- Organic matter decline
- Soil erosion
- Agricultural practices
- Plastic waste
Homeowners, landscaping companies, and farmers can all use biochar to improve the quality of their soil and sustainably grow healthier plants with less work. Questions about how to choose the right biochar for your needs? Ask the experts at Wakefield BioChar. Our premium biochar can be used alone or in combination with enriching compost to increase microbial activity and encourage biodiversity in soil.
Causes of Reduced Biodiversity in Soil
The reduction of soil biodiversity is linked to many different factors, such as:
- The Agricultural Industry – Conventional practices employed by the agricultural industry change landscapes and harm the life within soil. Intensive planting and deforestation cause soil erosion, which depletes the essential foundation plants need to grow. The use of pesticides to protect plants from common risks also harms the variety of life that lives underground.
- Soil Issues – Compaction is another issue that negatively affects plant life, as water and oxygen can’t move freely through dense soil. Plant roots must be able to access water and oxygen underground, or growth cycles will be stunted. Harsh chemical pesticides, pollution from industrial plants, factory farming operations, and other human activities also affect biodiversity.
- Climate Change – Along with the risks it poses to the larger environment, climate change also negatively impacts the health of soil. As temperatures continue to rise, the microbes living within soil may no longer be able to break down matter efficiently. Rising temperatures inhibit respiration, which prevents microbes from doing their very important job in the ground.
Why Soil Biodiversity Matters
The plants growing above ground and microorganisms teeming below have a reciprocal relationship with many key facets:
The Effects of Microbes on Plant Nutrition
Found throughout soil, mycorrhizal fungi are integral to providing plants with important nutrients. Mycelium soaks up nutrients in the ground thanks to its filaments, which are similar to the roots on plants and trees. These filaments then transfer retained nutrients to plants, which use them to reach full maturity.
Bacteria also enhance soil health by helping plants process nitrogen. Bacteria establish themselves on plant roots and take in nitrogen from the air surrounding them. Next, they process nitrogen so that it can be effectively used by plants to facilitate proper growth.
Biodiversity and Soil Structure
While nutrients are a vital building block of plant life, the physical makeup of soil is also important for encouraging optimal growth. In this case, earthworms and other types of invertebrates enhance the structure of soil as they burrow through the dirt. This process creates pockets in the soil to facilitate the proper flow of air over roots.
The activity of microbes can also make soil more fertile by improving water retention. Microbes cause sections of soil to bind together, which results in slower drainage. That means plants will have sufficient access to moisture without the risk of oversaturation, which can make soil too dense and potentially cause plant roots to become waterlogged.
The Ecological Consequences of Decreased Biodiversity
The plants that sprout from the soil simply can’t flourish without a healthy foundation. That means declining biodiversity within soil will naturally result in decreased plant life above. And when plants fail to thrive, the living creatures that use them for sustenance also suffer ill effects.
Additionally, the biochar manufacturing process reduces the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere by converting decomposing biomass to a fixed carbon that is sequestered into the ground. This process helps reduce the impact of climate change on the environment.
How Biochar Can Help Improve Soil Biodiversity
When it comes to microbes, biochar offers two enhancements. First, it helps retain important nutrients that microbes consume to survive. Second, its impact on soil structure ensures the microbes have a supportive habitat.
The large surface area of biochar particles creates pores in the soil, which improves aeration. Good aeration reduces soil compaction, which is beneficial to both plant life and the microorganisms so crucial for steady growth.
Biochar also has the ability to remediate soils contaminated with hazardous chemicals thanks to its impressive absorption abilities. It can even help reduce the acidity of soil by amending the pH level. Soil acidity is harmful to plants and negatively affects the microorganisms and other animals that live within the soil.
Wakefield BioChar Supports a Thriving Ecosystem
Whether you’re seeking an amendment for your home lawn or need an environmentally safe method to support a commercial farm, Wakefield BioChar offers products that are good for plants, soil, and the environment. We invite you to learn more about biochar and the significant impact it has on soil health.