Tree Fruit Soils and Nutrition















 

 

Soil Fauna (or zoo)

  • Macrofauna: Mice, moles, etc.; Earthworms and other worms; Ants, beetles, termites, spiders
  • Mesofauna: Nemaodes, arthropods (mites, centipedes, and springtails), molluscs
  • Microfauna: Protozoa


  Soil Macrofauna: Earthworms

  1. Important in mixing and redistributing OM
  2. Enhances soil physical properties
  3. Neutralize soil pH
  4. Increase the availability of many nutrients
  5. Stimulate microbial populations
  6. May reduce levels of harmful nematodes



Soil Mesofauna: Nematodes

  1. Microscopic non-segmented roundworms
  2. Ecologically diverse
  3. Found in all habitats
  4. Overall, 10-20 million/m-sq are found
  5. Major consumer group
  6. Both free-living and parasitic groups exist (predatory nematode pictured)



Soil Microfauna: Protozoa

  1. Important in mineralization and immobilization of N, P, and S
  2. Most numerous soil fauna
  3. Prey on microbes (especially bacteria)
  4. Enhance nitrification rates
  5. Suppress bacterial and fungal pathogens
  6. Can be agents of plant disease

To see some of the organisms in your soil

Make a pitfall trap to catch large arthropods by sinking a pint- or quart-sized container (such as a yogurt cup) into the ground so the rim is level with the soil surface. If desired, fashion a roof over the cup to keep the rain out, and add 1/2 of an inch of non-hazardous antifreeze to the cup to preserve the creatures and prevent them from eating one another. Leave in place for a week and wait for soil organisms to fall into the trap.  

To make a Burlese funnel to catch small arthropods, set a piece of 1/4 inch rigid wire screen in the bottom of a funnel to support the soil. (A funnel can be made by cutting the bottom off a plastic soda bottle.) Half fill the funnel with soil, and suspend it over a cup with a bit of anti-freeze or ethyl alcohol in the bottom as a preservative.  

Next page: The soil flora (or garden)

 

Updated July 15, 2004

 

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