The creatures living in the soil are critical to soil health. They affect soil structure and therefore soil erosion and water availability. They can protect crops from pests and diseases. They are central to decomposition and nutrient cycling and therefore affect plant growth and amounts of pollutants in the environment. Finally, the soil is home to a large proportion of the world's genetic diversity.
Soil Biology Technical Notes
NRCS Soil Biology Technical Notes are a series of technical publications designed to provide additional information about soil biology.
Soil Biology Primer
The Soil Biology Primer is an introduction to the living component of soil and how it contributes to agricultural productivity and air and water quality. The Primer includes units describing the soil food web and its relationship to soil health, and units about bacteria, fungi, protozoa, nematodes, arthropods, and earthworms. It is suitable for a broad audience including farmers, ranchers, agricultural professionals, resource specialists, conservationists, soil scientists, students, and educators.
Printed copies of the Soil Biology Primer may be purchased at the Soil and Water Conservation Society online store at www.swcs.org.
Starting with The Soil Food Web, use the navigation links at left to access the web-based version of the Primer and additional resources. This online version includes all of the text of the original, but not all of the images of the soil organisms. The full story of the soil food web is more easily understood with the help of the illustrations in the printed version.
=> Copyright restrictions: Many photographs in the online Soil Biology Primer cannot be used on other web sites or for other purposes without explicit permission from the copyright owners. Please contact the Soil and Water Conservation Society at firstname.lastname@example.org for assistance with copyrighted (credited) images.
=> The text, graphs, tables, non-credited photos, and graphics from USDA sources may be used freely; however, please credit the Soil Biology Primer or this web site. Also, as a courtesy, email the webmaster of this site to let us know how you are using this material.
How to Cite the Soil Biology Primer
Citation for the booklet:
Citation for the online Primer:
The former Soil Quality Institute of the Natural Resources Conservation Service, with assistance from the Conservation Technology Information Center, provided leadership for this project. The Natural Resources Conservation Service and the Soil and Water Conservation Society thank many individuals, including the following, for their contributions.
Reviewers (Not all reviewed all chapters)