Topsoil – the bottomline of productivity

We’re all familiar with topsoil, but what is it exactly? Obviously, beyond being the top layer of soil or a medium for propping up plants, soil is a living and breathing microbial ecosystem upon which all our lives depend. There are more beneficial bacteria in one spoonful of healthy soil than people on the planet. Some of them fix nitrogen from the atmosphere into soil or plant roots to be synthesized into proteins while others decompose organic residues and improve soil structure. Beneficial fungi such as mycorrhizae carry nutrients and water to plant roots in a symbiotic association. A dizzying number of species interact with each other in a soil food web which produces fertility for sustainable agricultural productivity. Soil organic matter generates humus and humates which perform many beneficial functions including extensive nutrient and water holding capacity.

It is very important to take care of soil by being mindful of compaction and excessive tillage. Unimaginable amounts of precious topsoil are carried to the sea each year by erosion from bare soils. Permanent perennial grasses are the most effective at building and holding topsoil. Microbial populations can be boosted by the application of compost and liquid bio-boosters. Soil can be aerated by chisel plowing subsoiling or core extraction.

 By: Ben Tyler