The Role of Bacteria in Conditioning Soil

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Bacteria are the unsung heroes of gardening. Without bacteria, gardeners would not have the rich, loamy soil in which plants grow without bounds.

Bacteria are single-celled organisms that chemically digest organic matter in the soil into smaller nutritional components in the form available for plants.

There are hundreds of thousands of different types, and many types of bacteria can digest hundreds of different forms of organic matter into topsoil. Beneficial bacteria for plants can do this because they can produce various types of enzymes to digest different compounds.

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Bacteria on Land vs. Bacteria in Compost

Each type works best under certain conditions. In cold compost piles, or on garden soil, bacteria that thrive in cold conditions will form a large portion of the bacterial population. In hot compost, other bacteria that can survive at high temperatures dominate.

When considering a bacterial soil conditioner, remember how you plan to use conditioner. Understand the bacteria you add, if you add bacteria as a soil conditioner, so you add the right type.

After conditions change drastically, bacteria that cannot function in these conditions will be destroyed. (Bacteria are not very active unless they have water to float together or wind to carry them.)

Bacteria for Improvement of Soil Structures

Using a bacterial soil conditioning program not only helps the availability of nutrients but also helps improve soil structure. Poorly structured soils are beneficial because bacteria break down soil compounds and the soil regroups. Space for air and water will open, and the soil structure will become more uniform.