The Role of Bacteria in Soil Water Management

Better water management is important for the plants in the soil but it is also important for the environment. Water will become more and more expensive and difficult to obtain. Soil structure is not the only property that determines the water retention capabilities of the soil. A method that is readily obtainable and economical is the application of beneficial bacteria and humic substances found in aquatic based humus composts. Not only do these substances improve water retention but they improve water absorption and provide for the nutrient uptake of the plants. All of this enables vigorous growth of the plants.

The bacteria and microbes create this water absorption and retention in several different ways. The bacteria themselves are largely made of water. When water is available the bacteria multiply and absorb the water in their bodies providing a healthy and controllable water storage mechanism. The bacteria can release this water when the plants need it in much the same way they control the release of nutrients to the plants. Most soils have organic nutrients that would not be available to the plants if there were no microbial life to make it available to them. The bacteria also store water in biofilms that prevents the water from evaporating or flowing out of the soil. There are billions of these bacteria in an ounce of soil providing constant control of water retention and release.

The humic substances in humus compost also help retain and release water in the soil. Humus compost is made by decomposing organic matter with a small amount of clay added. The decomposed organic matter binds to the microscopic clay particles and remains in the soil as organic matter. These minute particles bind and retain micronutrients near the root system of plants. Humic substances contain a mixture of large, highly charged organic molecules. These organic molecules can hold many times their volume in water. These substances are in the root area of the soil providing moisture and nutrients where they are needed most.

Controlled tests using fish manure humus compost on lawns show a significant improvement in the ability of the soil to absorb and retain water. Equal amounts of water on treated and untreated lawn areas show water standing in the untreated areas and completely absorbed in the treated areas. These benefits were observed with applications of only 1 pound of fish manure humus compost per 60 square feet. This treatment is significantly more economical and requires much less manpower than applying the large amounts of regular composts required for lawn treatments. Another result that was observed was the treated areas had healthier grass in areas where the grass competed for water with trees. In untreated areas the grass suffered from drought because the trees consumed the available water. Humus compost made from aquatic based fish manure contains a diverse population of microbial life and this makes a big difference in the results.

Source by Jim R White

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