Healthy soil contains an incredibly diverse group of organisms: bacteria, algae, fungi, protozoa, nematodes, micro-arthropods, earthworms, insects, small vertebrates, and plants. Microorganisms eat, grow, and move through the soil, adjusting the pH as they multiply. Bacteria adhere to organic matter and soil particles making micro-aggregates. Fungal hyphae wrap themselves around the smaller aggregates to form the larger aggregates. Highly mobile protozoa and nematodes plow through the soil looking for prey. This, in turn, creates passages for air and water, loosens compacted soil and makes nutrients more available to plant life.
When applied as a foliar spray, the beneficial bacteria and fungi out-compete disease organisms for food and surface area on the plant’s leaves. Many beneficial microbes create inhibitory compounds and antibiotics that are antagonistic toward disease. The pesticide qualities of compost tea are due to fungal-feeding nematodes, predatory nematodes, entomopathogenic nematodes, bacteria, and fungi.
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