Meet your soil life

Would you like to know what’s going on in your soil or compost?

As capacity allows, I may be able to offer microscopic soil biology assessments with photos or videos if desired.
Drop me a message if you would like an assessment of your soil, in terms of the functional groups present in the soil food web.
I am particularly interested in working with growers who are actively comparing different soil treatments and plant care, and are interested how this impacts the soil microbiology.

In the meantime, meet some of my local soil life below.
I can’t promise such good photos each time – depends on the diversity of your sample and how camera shy your critters are!

Below are some introductions to local soil life in South-East England, and occasionally further afield. Meet even more soil life here.

Microarthropods

The shredders of the soil food web, increase the surface of plant matter, others feed on fungi and/or nematodes. They are vital for the decomposition and nutrient cycling. And most intriguing to look at.

Microarthropod, mite family, light microscopy

A copepod living in biodynamic soil

Protozoa

Arcella (amoeba) at 400X light microscopy – soil dwelling architects, building themselves beautiful protective shells.

= major nutrient cyclers, making nitrogen available to plants when metabolising bacteria. Our amoeba and flagella are highly oxygen dependent, whereas ciliates are more tolerant of anaerobic conditions. It’s normal and important for soil to have different ecological niches – lower oxygen conditions for example can be found inside of soil aggregates.

Piggy-back ride of testate amoeba on naked amoeba, 400X light microscopy

Nematodes

Some eat bacteria, protozoa, algea and/or other nematodes and make nutrients available to plants. Others eat fungi.

Yet others feed on plant roots, and those are the ones we don’t really want to see in our samples.

Bacterial feeding nematode at 400X light microscopy – doing yoga?

Sleeping nematodes, hyperactive nematodes, pregnant nematodes and more – all bacterial feeders at 100X light microscopy:

Compost nematode party at 100X

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