Identify the key categories: dead and living organic matter and humus

ORGANIC MATTER Contain carbon. Plant - or animal-based. Organic matter from plant and animal debris starts to accumulate and has both physical and chemical effects on the soil. Over time, bulky organic matter gradually decays and becomes Humus. This colloidal state acts as glue in the soil as well as holding on to plant nutrients.

About 5% of soil content generally (80% hummus, 10%roots, 10% organisms)

Contain carbon Plant - or animal-based Living Organic Matter: Worms/bacteria/fungi/nematodes/moles/plant roots. • Byproduct of living animals or end product of death / decomposition: Dead Organic Matter: Worms/bacteria/fungi/nematodes/moles/plant roots, plus plant remains (natural or added as compost)

Animal by-products (manure/bones/hooves/blood).

*Farmyard manure 😘 • becomes Humus. • physical and chemical effects on the soil • generally acidifying.

Garden compost: • can be richer in plant foods; • unpredictable nutrient content.

Leaf mould • good physical effect on soil structure • limited foods value • time to produce

Quick Breakdown Mulches • Well rotted or coarse compost, strawy manure • breaks down to become Humus over a season • has other benefits eg reduce weeds, retain moisture as with slow breakdown mulches

Slow breakdown mulches: • Un- or incompletely- composted materials eg Bark, wood shaving, shredded paper • Breaks down over several seasons but used mostly for weed control and prevention of soil capping • Uses nitrogen as it breaks down which may affect fertility of soil for surrounding plants.

Humus: • Remains of bulky organic matter in the soil after decompostion • holds plant foods and water • creates soil structure

LIVING ORGANIC MATTER Worms/bacteria/fungi/nematodes/moles/plant roots.

WORM

MOLE

Moles – tunnelling and mole hills: Several steps can be taken to control moles or encourage them to move elsewhere: Mole traps: Mole traps for killing moles are inexpensive and available from garden centres and hardware stores; They are humane but need careful placement in a tunnel that is about 10-20cm (4-8”) below the surface, but not directly under a molehill; The location of tunnels can be ascertained by scraping away at a recent molehill and probing the hole with a pliable stick; Open up a tunnel with the minimum of disturbance, using a hand trowel and carefully align the jaws of the trap with the direction and depth of the tunnel. No bait is required. Rub your hands and the trap with soil to disguise the human scent; Once the trap is set, gently cover it with an upturned bucket to exclude light and draughts. Check the trap daily; With a bit of luck the mole will be caught but sometimes the mole pushes soil into the trap. If this happens, clear the tunnel of soil and reset the trap. If this continues to occur, reset the trap in a different part of the tunnel system; Vacant tunnel systems may be taken over by another mole from nearby areas so further trapping may be needed to keep a garden mole free; Live-capture traps are also available for setting in mole tunnels. These need inspecting at least twice a day so that the mole can be released before it dies or starvation and/or stress. Captured moles should be released at least one mile away. Electronic devices: Electronic devices are more costly and available from garden centres and mail order firms. Their buzzing noise is said to drive moles away – however this may only be to another part of the garden. Mole repellents: A type of mole-repellent smoke, sold as Pest-Stop Biofume Mole Smoke, emits castor oil fumes. These are said to line the tunnels and deter worms and other mole food from entering the tunnels. The hungry mole will then move elsewhere, or it may simply create new tunnels nearby. Planting: Caper spurge, “Euphorbia lathyris”, which is a biennial plant, has its adherents who claim the root exudates repel moles. It is worth a try, but remove most of the flower heads before seeding occurs or a weed problem may result. Bulbs of “Allium moly” are also sold as a mole deterrent but are of doubtful value. Hire a professional.

SOIL MICROBE

NEMATODE A small worm. A natural predator for pests used as a biological control method

DEAD ORGANIC MATTER Worms/bacteria/fungi/nematodes/moles/plant roots, plus plant remains (natural or added as compost) or animal by-products (manure).

Food for soil organisms, nutrient release and recycling .

FEEDING THE SOIL Old saying “feed the soil and the soil will feed your plants” the food of the soil is bulky organic matter.

bulky-organic-matter

BOM (ACRONYM) bulky-organic-matter

NUTRIENT RELEASE The plant food content of bulky organic matter (BOM) is broken down (mostly by bacteria) and so released and recycled back to the plants. Commonly talked about is the nitrogen cycle where several different bacteria are involved in breaking down BOM resulting in the release of nitrates into the soil. Nitrates are the form of nitrogen taken up by plants.

NUTRIENT RECYCLING The plant food content of bulky organic matter (BOM) is broken down (mostly by bacteria) and so released and recycled back to the plants. Commonly talked about is the nitrogen cycle where several different bacteria are involved in breaking down BOM resulting in the release of nitrates into the soil. Nitrates are the form of nitrogen taken up by plants.

NITRATE The plant food content of bulky organic matter (BOM) is broken down (mostly by bacteria) and so released and recycled back to the plants. Commonly talked about is the nitrogen cycle where several different bacteria are involved in breaking down BOM resulting in the release of nitrates into the soil. Nitrates are the form of nitrogen taken up by plants.

NO DETAILS OF NUTRIENT CYCLES REQUIRED

NO DETAILS OF NUTRIENT CYCLES REQUIRED{: .notice–warning}

Influence on soil structure (living, dead organisms, humus), water availability, workability, colour.

WORKABILITY (SOIL)

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