In early summer 2022, AhlmanEdu (Tampere, Finland) started a pilot project to improve soil quality in green areas. The experiment is being carried out in a lawn and a perennial bed and is part of the EPLUG project in the green sector.
The trial will test the impact of AhlmanEdu’s bioactive compost on soil biology and plant health in green areas. The plots from the lawn and perennial bed were divided into three different parts. The first part was treated with the bioactive compost extract and the second with a conventional fertiliser. The third plot served as a reference plot, irrigated with the same amount of clean water.
The soil food web can be studied with a microscope
The initial soil biological assessment showed that the soil food web in the area was depleted. It was rich in bacteria but almost devoid of fungi, which are a very important part of the soil because they are involved in nutrient cycling. Protozoa and beneficial nematodes were completely absent from the soil, but harmful root-eating nematodes were abundant. In order for soil to provide an ecosystem service, i.e. to support plants, it needs to contain all the beneficial functional groups of organisms.
After the first application, the soil of all six plots was examined microbiologically under a microscope and the difference with the first plots was visible. Fungi increased and beneficial nematodes and protozoa were found.
What is the soil food web?
A soil food web is a soil ecosystem made up of different micro-organisms. Together with plants, it controls the ecological processes in the soil.
A balanced soil food web supports healthy plant growth by recycling nutrients and improving soil structure. It also prevents the development of diseases and pests and controls the growth of weeds. Tillage and pesticides upset the balance of the food web, so that the soil no longer functions well.