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Soil Microorganisms: What They Do and How to Measure Them
By: Sophie Roberts, Yuwadee Danmalidoi, Abram Bicksler
Microorganisms are defined as any living things too small for the eye to see; they include fungi, algae, and bacteria (Rao, 1995). These small organisms can be found everywhere: in water, air, and in the soil. On a farm, microorganism numbers are especially high in compost, manure, and the juice from IM (Indigenous Microorganisms; or juice from EM, Effective Microorganisms). Microorganisms are an important component of the soil; they help to decompose organic matter, while also making nutrients available to plants from rocks and air, and aiding in soil adhesion (Tisdall, 1994; Hayat et al., 2010). Soil microorganisms also play a critical role in keeping plants healthy, as they help with nutrient cycling, break down herbicides, and—if good microorganisms are in abundance—reduce bacterial plant diseases (Anderson, 1984; Mendes et al., 2011).