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Rhizobium Bacteria Is Good For Your SoilMaster Gardener Scoop – June 10, 2015

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Rhizobium Bacteria Is Good For Your Soil

By Will Summers, Master Gardener

Some of the best things in life are things you cannot see such as affection for a loved one, patriotism and the enthusiasm of youth. These things are demonstrated, and the results are unquestionable. However, just underfoot there is often an underrated issue: soil bacteria and how it applies to gardening. If your beans, peas or other legumes are not producing to the degree you expect, then you ought to consider adding bacteria.

I appreciate concerns that bacteria cause infections, diseases and a myriad of health problems. However, there is a host of bacteria that we just cannot live without. We have bacteria on our skin, in our intestines and throughout nature that are highly beneficial. One of these is a soil bacterium, called “Rhizobium” that converts the unusable nitrogen in our air into dissolved nitrogen that nourishes plants.

Penicillin and a host of others are soil-borne bacteria that science has discovered are useful bacteria. This bacterium associated with food crops such as soybeans, green beans and peas reportedly improves growth, increases production and raises the nutritional levels of the crop.

Bacteria predate cellular life. A bacteria cell is only a fraction of the size of most plant or animal cells. A tablespoon of soil may contain billions of bacterial organisms. Bacteria are so small they lack the components of the most simple, single-celled living organisms. This is a clue to their ability to take raw elements from nature and convert them to soluble, usable forms essential to other lifeforms.

Bacteria feed on organic matter supplied by compost, roots and other dead organisms. Plants leak or exude material back into the soil unique to that particular plant. In some cases such as legumes (the bean and pea family), plants evolved a close dependence on individual bacterial species. Legumes grow “nodules” on their roots that are organs to harbor rhizobium bacteria for their use. Nodules provide a safe environment for these bacteria to thrive. Nearly all legumes, including trees such as alder and locust, contain these beneficial nitrogen-fixing nodules.

Soils must be inoculated with rhizobium. Unlike human inoculations, bacteria may be dissolved in water and watered into the soil, or bacteria may be directly mixed with the seeds immediately before planting. Like all bacteria, rhizobium may be killed by antiseptic conditions such as sunlight, heat and drying. Therefore, take appropriate precautions to prevent sterilizing your seed bacteria as you plant. You should plant seed immediately after inoculation.

For More, Please Read The June 10, 2015 Edition Of The Nashville News.

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