The Importance of Soil Microorganisms
to Keeping Soils Healthy
By John Zak, Ph.D.
Professor and Chair
Department of Biological Sciences
Director of Climate Science Center
Texas Tech University
Watch Presentation (19 min 51 sec)
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What does it mean for a cotton producer to have healthy soils? How do you know that your soils are healthy? How do you develop and maintain healthy soils? These are just some of the questions this presentation will explore, as soil health can influence yield and production costs. For humans, plants, animals, and all ecological systems, bacteria and fungi have important roles in helping maintain our health and that of our soils by carrying out important functions. The soil microbiome, which consists of thousands of beneficial bacteria and fungi, is crucial for promoting plant growth, increasing soil carbon, maintaining nutrient availability, and building soil structure. We know that if we do not take care of our skin and gut microbiomes, we may not be in good health and may have more doctor bills. The same is true for any agricultural system: If producers do not take care of the soil microbiome, their soils will not be in good health and they will likely spend more money trying to produce crops. Finally, the presentation will provide a few examples of how to improve the soil health and maintain a strong soil microbiome.