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Soil: a Living Organism

Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow! When you look at the soil as a living organisms, not just as support for plant roots, you start to see how tilling actually destroys soil structure. Human populations have infrastructure – utility lines, roads, communication devices, and stores of nutrients. A well-developed soil has its own highly developed and connected underpinings == openings for air and water movement, channels for earthworms, fungal hyphae that extends for hundreds of feet, aggregates of soil that allow easy root penetration, and organic matter that holds moisture and slowly provides required plant nutrients. Plant roots become involved in the transfer of carbon captured during  photosynthesis, and an element required for any life form,  to the microorganisms living below ground. The roots actually extrude carbon rich sugars which algae, fungi, and other soil organisms take in exchange for bringing the plant potassium, calcium, and other nutrients. 
 

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Amanda McNulty is a Clemson University Extension Horticulture agent and the host of South Carolina ETV’s Making It Grow! gardening program. She studied horticulture at Clemson University as a non-traditional student. “I’m so fortunate that my early attempts at getting a degree got side tracked as I’m a lot better at getting dirty in the garden than practicing diplomacy!” McNulty also studied at South Carolina State University and earned a graduate degree in teaching there.