The importance of soil biology

If a tree or plant does not perform well - or establish itself - it is in many cases due to the amount of moisture a tree can absorb. Our moisture sensors and accompanying clear dashboards can help you with this: they ensure that you as a manager can see exactly which tree you can water when.

However, even when a tree's watering schedule is perfectly arranged, that same tree can still perform poorly. In such cases, it is essential to take a "broader look" at the soil. Our soil life sensors play an important role in this.

A broader view

On the basis of this broader view, we examine whether there is a balance in soil biology and the soil's mineral. We go beyond determining available nutrients, determining the moisture content or mapping specific soil organisms. We focus on measuring and optimizing the most important soil processes. We also create a good soil environment in which the microbiological and chemical processes function optimally. Processes essential for tree nutrition. To get a grip on these processes, we use our unique soil life sensors and self-developed soil analyzes.

Measuring essential processes

It may be a bit strange to say, but we actually don't really know what a well-developed soil ecosystem looks like. There are many organisms that can fulfill important functions in the soil. Each organism has its own preference for certain specific conditions: sometimes they are numerous, but not in other environmental conditions. Because the essential processes in the soil are fulfilled by many different organisms, they just continue under very different conditions.

That is precisely why more insight arises when we shift the attention from individual soil organisms to the soil processes that are essential for the health of green spaces. With our sensors and laboratory analyzes, we therefore focus on the two processes that are most essential:

  1. Recycling van voedingsstoffen. Aan de bodem wordt voortdurend nieuw organisch materiaal toegevoegd. Denk bijvoorbeeld aan bladresten, takken, afgestorven wortels en dode (micro)-organismen. Deze materialen bevatten belangrijke mineralen voor het groen, maar het organische materiaal moet eerst worden omgezet in een vorm die planten kunnen opnemen. Hierbij spelen onder meer verschillende groepen schimmels en bacteriën een rol.
  2. In addition, there is a wonderful symbiotic relationship in the soil. Symbiotic means that it is a mutually-beneficial relationship, where both organisms benefit. Trees and other plants make energy through photosynthesis, which they store in the form of sugars. They share these sugars with the soil life via the roots. In exchange for this nutrition, various microorganisms go to work to release nutrients from the soil for the tree. This makes nutrients available that are further away from the root or are difficult for a root to mobilize itself.

For example, by measuring the oxygen level and acidity in the root zone of the tree, we gain more insight into the soil environment. We see whether the soil environment is suitable for organisms that can fulfill these important processes. The oxygen consumption tells us whether there is actually substantial activity of soil organisms at a certain point in time. Combined with our laboratory analyzes, we can even determine which nutrients can be supplied to the tree by the micro-organisms.

The soil life sensors: unique in the market

Placing a sensor in the ground is, of course, not unique; but our approach and vision is. We combine these sensors with complex calculation models, soil analyzes and a scientific basis. This requires more work - for example in the field of calibration - but pays for itself.

Various municipalities and universities of applied sciences in the Netherlands already work with our sensors and are very pleased with this. With our sensors and our approach, we not only want to conquer the Netherlands, but the whole world. We have one overarching mission: to reduce the distance between man and nature, resulting in ecological, economic and social benefits.  

Gino Smeulders