Biological Properties


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.

News & Events

SDSHC Hires Communications Coordinator

SDSHC Hires Communications Coordinator

The South Dakota Soil Health Coalition (SDSHC) proudly announces the hiring of Stan Wise as communications coordinator to assist in promoting soil health best management practices across the state. Wise’s duties include coordinating overall communications on behalf of...

Soil Health Practices Revive Salinity Areas Regenerating Dead Zones

Soil Health Practices Revive Salinity Areas Regenerating Dead Zones

White desert is how Frederick farmer, Don Nickelson, used to describe the saline patches on his land. “Nothing would grow there,” says the crop and cattle producer. Hitchcock farmer, Scott Hamilton understands. Saline patches began showing up on his land in the 1990s....

Register For 2020 Soil Health School To Be Held In Mitchell

Register For 2020 Soil Health School To Be Held In Mitchell

The 2020 South Dakota Soil Health Coalition (SDSHC) Soil Health School will be held in Mitchell, S.D., on the Stehly Farm and at the Highland Conference Center (2000 Highland Way). Registration is now open for the School which is scheduled for August 31- September 2....