The Biology of Soil
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The Biology of Soil


[Light, electronic music fades in.] [Light, electronic music fades in.] Dr. Claudia Goyer: Soil is the home of a large variety of organisms… …going from really large ones like insects and nematodes and earthworms… …to the very small like bacteria and fungi. Narrator: There are billions of organisms in every spoonful of soil. That means that there are more organisms in a spoonful of soil… …than there are people on the planet. They are very small but they are very important to maintain the chemical environment of our world. Dr. Claudia Goyer: Soils are actually quite alive. Organisms play a big role in soils. They basically affect the chemical, the physical… …and the biochemical properties of soil. Basically, all organisms are involved in recycling. The process starts with larger organisms that will break down plant residue… …and animal waste into smaller fragments and then the microorganism… …will further break down these bigger fragments into nutrients… …that can be taken up by plants. They play a vital role in keeping our soil really healthy… …and ensuring that we’re having a really good crop. Dr. Martin Chantigny: Agricultural practices such as soil tillage, fertilization and crop rotation… …affect the abundance and functioning of soil organisms. Dr. Claudia Goyer: And all of those organisms very important for ecosystem functioning. Dr. Martin Chantigny: Soil biological activity is active at temperatures well below freezing. Breakdown of plant material, manure, fertilizer, continues throughout winter… ..which affects nitrogen, phosphorus, carbon levels in soil and their fate in the ecosystem. Nutrient loses during winter may represent up to 90% total annual loses… …which is far from being negligible. This has an implication that the impact of fall application of manure and fertilizer may have on the environment. Our goal is to develop farm management practices… …that maximize retention of nutrients in the soil during winter… …so we have a minimal impact on the environment and maximize the benefits to the next crop. Narrator: These organisms are very important… …to get more food on our table. They are fundamentally essential to our life. Learn more about soil sciences in Canada… …with our other videos on the chemistry, physics, and nutrients in soils. [Light, electronic music fades out.]

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