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Teagasc at BTYSTE: Soil microbiology

Soils are so much more than meets the eye. Soils are home to a staggering abundance and diversity of living organisms, most of which we cannot see with the naked eye. Teagasc researchers Aoife Duff and Catriona Boyle tell us more as part of BT Young Scientist and Technology Exhibition (BTYSTE).

Main image above: "earths colours" © Teagasc

Soil biology is of vital importance to the health and productivity of our farming systems. In fact, soil has a million times more bacteria on the planet than there are stars in the universe. This is where we get the term “the soil is alive”.

These soil organisms range from the microscopic (like bacteria and fungi) to larger organisms (like earthworms and ants).

Soil biology is important for climate regulation (regulating greenhouse gases in the atmosphere); plant health (providing vitamins, hormones and suppressing plant disease) and plant establishment (maintaining the soil structure that anchors the plants).

It can even influence the flavour of crops and it provides many antibiotics and vaccines. Without the soil biology, we would lose all of these essential functions.

Above image: Helicotylenchus Plant feeder (credit Israel Ikoyi)

Our researchers at Teagasc are investigating the life in our soil with the aim of harnessing soil biology to provide natural-based solutions to combat global climate challenges and improve plant health and food. After all, the organisms that live in our soils are essential members of the farming workforce.

Article by Aoife Duff and Catriona Boyle.

Teagasc – the Agriculture and Food Development Authority – is the national body providing integrated research, advisory and training services to the agriculture and food industry and rural communities in Ireland.

Every year we have a stand at the BT Young Scientist and Technology Exhibition (BTYSTE). BTYSTE 2022 takes place from January 12th to 14th. The Teagasc Virtual Stand can be visited at BTYSTE 2022 here.

We also have a Teagasc prize, awarded to the student project in the main exhibition area that best demonstrates a thorough understanding of the science of agricultural or food production, or the use of science to improve technologies available to agricultural or food production.

Follow the story on social media @BTYSTE #BTYSTE2022 https://btyoungscientist.com/