2. Organic Matter Brings life
We all know soil needs organic matter, but do you know why and the benefits it provides? Organic matter generally makes up a small portion of soil, with most only containing 1 to 6%. However, organic matter may be the most important part of living soil and effect almost all soil properties.
Organic matter can be split up into living, dead, and very dead material each with its own job within the soil. Living consists of microorganisms, roots, insects, worms and larger animals make up 15% of the total organic matter. The living, being the most important, break down plant residues, manures and the dead/very dead materials.
The dead material is also very important in creating a living soil. Consisting of dead microorganisms, insects, worms and plants this material is easy and quick to decompose and provides the main supply of food to the living. In addition, the dead provides organic chemical compounds that help bind the soil particle together, increasing structure.
Lastly is very dead material. More difficult to decompose, the very dead generally makes up the humus portion of soil. Because of its chemical structure, this material is generally hard for organisms to use. This creates essential nutrient storage that can be slow released to plants. By slowing drainage, decreasing compaction and holding onto plant available nutrients, humus is an important part of organic matter.