Biological Properties

Microorganisms

Microorganisms are very small forms of life that can sometimes live as single cells, although many also form colonies of cells. A microscope is usually needed to see individual cells of these organisms.

Macro Fauna

While the most well‐known nematodes are pests occupying and feeding on plant roots (such as the lesion nematode and the soybean cyst nematode), in fact most nematodes are beneficial organisms. Nematodes are extremely important because they consume a diverse array of food sources, which places them at multiple trophic levels in the soil food web.

Particulate Organic Matter

Particulate organic matter (POM) fraction referred to in this document comprises all soil organic matter (SOM) particles less than 2 mm and greater than 0.053 mm in size (Cambardella and Elliot, 1992). POM is biologically and chemically active and is part of the labile (easily decomposable) pool of soil organic matter (SOM).

Total Organic Carbon

Total organic carbon (TOC) is the carbon (C) stored in soil organic matter (SOM). Organic carbon (OC) enters the soil through the decomposition of plant and animal residues, root exudates, living and dead microorganisms, and soil biota.

Soil Enzymes

Soil enzymes increase the reaction rate at which plant residues decompose and release plant available nutrients. The substance acted upon by a soil enzyme is called the substrate.

Soil Respiration

Carbon dioxide (CO2) release from the soil surface is referred to as soil respiration. This CO2 results from several sources, including aerobic microbial decomposition of soil organic matter (SOM) to obtain energy for their growth and functioning (microbial respiration), plant root and faunal respiration, and eventually from the dissolution of carbonates in soil solution.

West River Soil Health School Registration Open!

In 2024, the South Dakota Soil Health Coalition will host an additional Soil Health School in west of the Missouri River! The 2024 West River Soil Health School with be held June 26-27 near Caputa, SD! This school will focus on issues specific to the land, climate, and ag production systems of wester South Dakota. Class size is limited, so early registration is strongly encouraged!

News & Events

Coalition plans additional Soil Health School for West River

Coalition plans additional Soil Health School for West River

By Stan Wise PIERRE, SD – Since 2016, the South Dakota Soil Health Coalition has held an annual Soil Health School to offer an intensive educational experience that combines classroom instruction with hands-on field exercises. However, those schools have been held...

Grazing livestock on cropland pays off

Grazing livestock on cropland pays off

By Stan Wise PIERRE, SD – The core idea behind the regenerative agriculture movement is a simple one: Mimic nature. What did farmland look like before it was farmed, and how can producers make their operations look more like that picture? This concept lies at the...

Farmer reaps higher yields by interseeding soybeans

Farmer reaps higher yields by interseeding soybeans

By Stan Wise Alex Frasier has spent a lot of time studying what it takes to grow a successful crop. After studying ag production and precision technology at Lake Area Technical College, he has worked in ag retail and currently works as an agronomist in Aberdeen, SD....