Nematodes are found in almost all habitats, but are often overlooked because most of them are microscopic in size. For instance, a square yard of woodland or agricultural habitat may contain several million nematodes. Many species are highly specialized parasites of vertebrates, including humans, or of insects and other invertebrates. Other kinds are plant parasites, some of which can cause economic damage to cultivated plants. Nematodes are particularly abundant in marine, freshwater, and soil habitats.
Soil is an excellent habitat for nematodes, and 100 cc of soil may contain several thousand of them. Because of their importance to agriculture, much more is known about plant-parasitic nematodes than about the other kinds of nematodes which are present in soil. Most kinds of soil nematodes do not parasitize plants, but are beneficial in the decomposition of organic matter. These nematodes are often referred to as free-living nematodes. Juvenile or other stages of animal and insect parasites may also be found in soil. Although some plant parasites may live within plant roots, most nematodes inhabit the thin film of moisture around soil particles. The rhizosphere soil around small plant roots and root hairs is a particularly rich habitat for many kinds of nematodes.
A healthy soil has an active the microbial content as a primary consumer. Just like the actions of bacteria in our gut that supports our bodily functions in return for warmth and food, the Mycorrhizal fungi present in the soil helps the plants to take up nutrients and support their immunity to diseases, in exchange the plants give the fungi sugars from their processing of photosynthesis as the fungi cannot do this themselves
The fungi with its greater surface area are better at taking up the soil nutrients than the plant roots and exchange nutrients and communicate with the plant roots by chemical messaging. This can happen between most plants in the area. The fungi have extensive mycelium that expand out to take up soil nutrients and water.
Often found on moist trunks when trees die and decompose, the fungi has found a home to reproduce and recycle the rotting resource. You can identify if your soil has fungi by digging in your bark chip mulch and locating the white mycelium strands.
The fungi are good at competing against diseases and producing anti pathogens, feeding the plants with nutrients and water and creating a healthy soil for our plants to grow in.
Permaculture teacher at Agrifutures.