Healthy soil is the foundation for profitable, productive, and environmentally sound revegetation and erosion control efforts.
The stagnation of water or its infiltration through the soil will determine its health. Just as healthy soil improves water infiltration, and unhealthy soil selects for water immobility. Soil is a complex ecosystem where living plant roots and microorganisms attach to organic matter and mineral particles. When they do this, they create a structure that notably improves water infiltration. Moreover, all soil-related and soil-dependent organisms need water, which is exchanged and flows due to good infiltration.
Soil needs to have an appropriate structure to allow enough water to infiltrate. So how does this work, you might be thinking? Think of pores in the soil as a sponge system that distributes and dynamically moves rainwater down through the ground.
Pores in the soil can be created by root growth, which pushes through the ground in search of water and nutrients. When their lifespan is over, they leave a void through which rainwater will flow into the ground.
What is fascinating is how soil microorganisms also improve water infiltration. Soil pores are created when soil particles clump together into a multitude of aggregates. Soil microbes are mother nature's engineers that build soil aggregates, therefore soil structure. Their digestive activity secretes a glue called "Glomalin." Glomalin sticks the clods of soil together, forming spaces in between for the water to flow through.
It is only in healthy, biologically active soils that this happens. Soils that fail to develop such an ecosystem of microbial activity tend to become compacted. Therefore, a healthy soil will improve and deepen water infiltration, reduce rainfall-runoff and soil erosion.
Another improvement that healthy soils bring us from bigger earth-dwelling critters underground is the burrowing activity of earthworms and small arthropods. These little guys create more extensive and deeper tunnels, which helps the soil profile absorb more water and infiltrate it better.
By Lauren Alaniz