is an aerobic, free-living soil microbe that fixes nitrogen from
- there are thousands of different species of bacteria. The beneficial
bacteria in soils feed on dead leaves and animal residues. The
complex process breaks down the organic matter into plant nutrients
that make up humus.
bacteria are single-celled micro-organisms that help fix nitrogen
in the soil and are responsible for decomposing organic materials,
which returns important nutrients back to the soil. The beneficial
aspects of microorganisms far outweigh their harmful effects.
is tightly bonded making it difficult for oxygen and water to
penetrate the ground. Although clay is nutrient-rich, plants find
it difficult to grow deep roots in the compacted soil. By improving
tilth, VFS helps unlock the nutrients, which plants can then use.
is the Government Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
in the UK.
is a system formed by the interaction of an ecological community
of living organisms with their physical environment. Using chemicals
has an impact on the correct functioning of the soil ecosystem.
- an enzyme is a substance that speeds up chemical reactions.
Just as the digestive glands in the human body produce enzymes
to digest molecules of food, bacteria produce enzymes to absorb
- a material added to soil to increase its fertility and enhance
plant growth. There are natural fertilizers, such as manure, and
synthetic fertilizers manufactured from chemical compounds, for
example, nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium (NPK).
modified organism (GMO) is an organism in which genes have
been added, rearranged or replaced through genetic engineering,
and do not occur naturally by reproduction or combination.
is the dark material in soils produced by the decomposition of
- the loss of water-soluble plant nutrients from the soil due
to rain and irrigation.
is a microscopic organism too small to be seen by the naked eye.
is another word for micro-organism (also spelled microorganism).
Like us, microbes need to eat and so they produce enzymes to break
down organic matter as food. This process releases the nutrients
that plants need to feed.
- a type of roundworm.
in its many forms can be organic (natural) or inorganic (chemical).
and nitrifying soil micro-organisms are 'keystone' organisms that
are vital to the soil ecosystem.
- non poisonous. Toxicity is the degree to which a substance is
able to damage an exposed organism.
means that the bacteria present will not cause disease.
- essential elements or compounds that provide nourishment for
an organism to live.
Vulnerable Zones (NVZs) are areas covered by The Nitrates
Directive, adopted by the European Union in 1991, which aims to
reduce water pollution caused by nitrogen from agricultural sources.
From 1 January 2009, the areas covered by Nitrate Vulnerable Zones
(NVZs) were increased to approximately 70% of England.
matter is anything that has mass and volume that has come
from a once-living organism, such as a fertilizer derived from
animal or vegetable matter.
- a long chain (known as a polymer) of amino acids - the building
blocks of proteins.
are complex carbohydrates that contain chains of molecules, such
as starch and sugar.
(meaning 'for life') are beneficial bacteria which, when administered
in adequate amounts, confer a health benefit on the host.
is water or rain carrying nitrates that drains into the water
system and ultimately reaches rivers, lakes or oceans. This causes
algae 'blooms' and the water is starved of oxygen, affecting fish
and other wildlife.
is a biodiverse environment that contains numerous varieties of
biological components including flora and fauna (bio life).
Approved Fertiliser (also known as a soil amendment) is a
substance added to soil to improve its structure, texture, tilth
and drainage to improve plant growth and health.
is the ability of the soil to provide an ecosystem that can
is a living thing made up of organic matter containing millions
of micro-organisms including beneficial bacteria that decompose
organic matter (dead plants and animals) into rich humus.
are organic compounds required as a nutrient in tiny amounts by