Healthy soils on farms and in our
yards are key to Saving the Bay
and mitigating climate change.
The dirt under our feet has all too often been
underappreciated and poorly treated. But, visit CBF’s
Clagett Farm in Upper Marlboro, Maryland,
and you will hear a different tale. Farm
Manager Michael Heller often greets
visitors by bending over and
picking up a handful of soil.
“There are more than a
billion living organisms
in my hand,” he’ll say. Heller has spent his career studying
and nurturing soil and reaping the bounty it can produce.
Healthy soil is an ecosystem in itself—a living
community full of bacteria, protozoans,
fungi, and nematodes. These organisms
comprise a complex food web.
Nutrients in the inorganic
waste they excrete when they
consume one another are
usable by plants. Some nutrients are
stored in the organisms as they grow.
FUNGI help deliver nutrients and moisture to
plants and retain nutrients to feed other organisms.
These organisms live by decomposing and absorbing
the organic material in which they grow.
NEMATODES are mostly microscopic,
unsegmented worms that help control disease,
and release nutrients to plants. They feed on
bacteria and fungi.