Each day the sunrises and we begin our daily grind, we inevitably will be in touch with the ecology that surround us. When we run the water to brush our teeth and take our showers, when we get in our vehicles and drive to work, when we come home and check our email on our computers, when we call our friends on our cell phones, and when we dispose of our trash throughout our day.
Ecology is the study of our earth – it’s relationships with organisms and their environment, and how those relationships affect the planet. There is a lot we can do as a species to help our environment sustain itself. And a great way to begin is to get educated.
Soil Ecology / The Basics
Soil ecology is a branch of ecology that is concerned with the interactions of organisms that live in the soil, specifically the cycling of nutrients in the soil. Plant life has a huge impact and influence on soil. Richness of soil directly affects plant life and vice versa.
Carbon, one of the building blocks of life, is stored in plants and the soil. The organisms which live on the soil use carbon as fuel for their energy. These organisms multiply and die in the soil making soil quality richer in terms of nutrients. These nutrients are absorbed by plants which they need in order to become healthy and bear fruit.
Aside from these, there are also other factors that directly influence soil nutrients and quality. Hydration or water is always a key factor as organisms in the soil cannot live and reproduce without water. The same is true with temperature. To warm and the organisms will not multiply properly. Too cold and they all die.
Soil Ecology / The Soil Food Web
There are literally millions of organisms that make up the soil we step on. These range from single celled organisms like bacteria and fungi to more complex nematodes and arthropods. These tiny microorganisms live in the soil where they multiply and die to preserve the cycle of give and take in our soil.
Aside from providing nourishment to our plant life, these organisms also prevent pollutants from entering our air and water systems by trapping harmful chemicals. They also make nitrogen available for plants by catching it and preventing it from entering streams and lakes. Organisms that live in the soil also serve as food for some species that live above ground.
Soil Ecology / Soil and Man
Man is carnivorous. We eat meat and plants alike. We take essential vitamins and minerals our bodies need in order to function properly from fruits and vegetables that are planted on soil. Changes in the environment affect soil quality which in turn affects the production of fruits and vegetables.
Changes brought about by global warming such as flashfloods, drought, longer winters or shorter summers destroy the environment and has a great impact on soil nutrition. Rice paddies can become deserts and fertile soil can become barren and arid because of chemicals and other artificial means of farming.
Soil ecologists seek to find balance wherein plants and man can thrive in this ever changing planet we live in. As changes occur faster in order to cope with variations in weather and ecology, soil has to keep up and finding ways to sustain its development. Otherwise, wide spread famine and malnutrition can result as soil quality deteriorates due to environmental changes.
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