Mulches for Enhancing Biological Activities in Soil
Healthy soils are inevitable for a consistent and sustainable agricultural production. Intensive agriculture or other factors may cause serious negative impacts on soil health and sustainability. On the other hand, soil rehabilitation or improvement in soil health may be achieved by increasing the microbial biomass and activities in the soil. Addition of organic materials (e.g., various types of mulches) to soil helps improve the biodiversity and microbial activities in soil. There is enough evidence to establish that mulches of various origins (such as leaf litter, wood parts of plants, crop straw, compost, and others) enhance the biological mass (earthworms, termites, fungal and bacterial communities, etc.) in soil. Mulches increase the density and activity of soil microflora and microfauna including bacteria, fungi, protozoa, algae, ants, spiders, centipedes, termites, snails, earthworms, and others. Activity of soil biota will ultimately improve the nutrient cycling in soil and cause a nutrient addition to soil, improve the nutrient availability, and increase aggregation and bulk density and organic matter buildup. These biological communities produce various enzymes and help in soil rehabilitation and improving the nutrient availability in the soil.
KeywordsEarthworms Termites Soil microbiota Mulch Soil enzymes
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