Blog Cantray Park draft - light teal Feb 14

3 Cantray Square

Croy

Inverness, Scotland

IV2 5PP

01667 493500

Cantraybridge was established in 1994 and is a company limited by guarantee and a registered Scottish charity.  Company registration number 149774, charity number SCO 22419.

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Soil

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     WHAT IS DECOMPOSITION?

 

When a plant or animal dies its remains are broken down into tiny pieces by insects , worms, bacteria and fungi . We call these creatures decomposers and they are natures way of naturally recycling our organic waste.  This process is called decomposition.

 

As these pieces of organic waste are broken down they release the nutrients that are contained within them and they are returned back into the soil where they can be reused by plants. Among the many types of nutrients that are released are oxygen , carbon, nitrogen and calcium.  Nutrients are essential for new plants to grow, this makes

decomposition a very important process in helping to keep our soil healthy.

In our own gardens we can speed up the process of decomposition by making a compost heap. When we add our compost ingredients they begin to decompose and as they do they release heat.

This heat is important for decomposition as it helps to speed up the time it takes for the compost ingredients to break down . Having heat in our compost can also help to kill off diseases and weed seeds.  

DECOMPOSITION

One quarter of all known species live in our soil. Just one teaspoon can hold more organisms than there are people on our planet.

 

Healthy soils are essential for all living organisms. They provide us with food , fuel and many of the natural resources necessary for the manufacture of products used in our daily life. Healthy soil also plays an important role in regulating climate change. Soils can hold more carbon than all of the earths vegetation and atmosphere put together,  and they can also help reduce pollution by breaking down harmful chemicals .

By helping to care for and improve our soils we can help to protect our planet.

 

The main causes of soil degradation are caused by modern methods of intensive industrial  farming with their high use of agrochemicals and monoculture production of crops and livestock along with pollution from industrial practices.

These are complex issues to resolve and require a huge shift in how we manage our land on a global level but we can all make changes on an individual level which can make a difference to our immediate surroundings.

 

Adopting organic farming practices and methods within our own plots and gardens and increasing our awareness and understanding of the ecological systems that surround us we help to protect, improve and conserve our enviroment.

Recycling our organic waste to make compost ,  learning how to cycle our crops , using green manures , encouraging diversity , and reducing or better still eliminating the use of chemical herbicides and pesticides are some of the small changes we make to protect and build our soils health.

Our soils need food to stay healthy and produce good crops or grow forests. The best way for soil to get this food is by giving it compost . In the wild soils create their own food by the natural process of plant material that falls to the ground and is decomposed by the many small creatures that live in  the soil - we call these soil fauna . Along with the larger soil fauna, like worms or beetles, there are also many microorganisms and fungi which help to break down and decompose the waste materials returning them back to the soil.

Here are some types of soil fauna that you may have seen .

 

Worms      

Millipedes

Slugs and snails

Beetles                

Woodlice

 

Because we rely on our soil fauna to help make our soils and keep them healthy it is important that we try to look after them when we are working in our gardens . We can do this by not using chemicals such as weedkillers or spraying pesticides to get rid of bugs.  It is better to try and let natural predators like birds and other insects help us to control bugs and to remove weeds by hand using  our tools . This can help to protect our soil fauna and  help to create a healthy habitat for all the animals ,birds and insects that visit our gardens.

When we need to add fertilisers to our soil it is better if we use natural organic materials such as manure and homemade compost as these are the perfect habitat for our soil fauna bugs and insects.

 

SOIL FAUNA