Our soils are able to absorb more nutrients and hence deliver greater crop yields the greater the number of different bacterial fungal species in them is. This was demonstrated by a study conducted by researchers from the University of Zurich and the Swiss Centre of Excellence for Agricultural Research (Agroscope). In an article published by the laboratory magazine Analytik News, it is reported that “the more species-rich the microbial community, the more ecosystem functions remain intact, which in turn has a positive impact on agriculture”.
Examining the biodiversity of various soil samples, the scientists determined how many and which kinds of fungal and bacterial species were present and measured the amount of nutrients they were able to absorb. “If there were only a few microorganisms in the soils, or none at all, far fewer nutrients were absorbed, and only grasses grew”, the report states.
This network of diverse species of fungi and bacteria can be likened to a gigantic factory. As long as the soil boasts a large number and wide range, all positions are sufficiently filled, enabling the soil to function fully – even during stressful periods, e.g. prolonged droughts or various other environmental impacts. “The more intertwined the network is, the more our soils can do for agriculture“, Marcel van der Heijden of the University of Zurich is quoted.
The bacterial diversity in our soils is a part of the global microbiome. It is estimated that there are up to three billion different kinds of microorganisms (see also http://www.gesunde-bakterien.de/en/microflora/). Most bacteria are essential for our ecosystem and human health, only few are actually harmful or pathogens.
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