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How it Works!

Watch the animations below to learn how the Soil Food Web works.

What is the Soil Food Web?

In this series of animations you will discover how the Soil Food Web works in harmony with plants to produce a number of benefits including:

  • Increased Yields
  • Protection from Pests and Diseases
  • Reduced Irrigation Requirements
  • No need for Fertilizers
  • Weed Suppression
  • Protection against Soil Erosion
  • Carbon Sequestration
  • Protection of Insects and Birds

And more…

Nutrient Cycling

This is the process by which beneficial microorganisms harvest nutrients from soil organic matter and also from the ‘parent material’. Rocks, pebbles, sand particles, silts and clays are all considered ‘parent material’. On a molecular level, they comprise crystalline structures that are not easily broken down. These structures contain atoms of iron, boron, phosphorus, calcium, potassium etc. Plants are not capable of directly accessing the nutrients in these structures.


Bacteria and fungi, however, produce enzymes that break-down these structures, thus releasing the nutrients they contain. The bacteria and fungi readily absorb these nutrients, which are later made available to plant roots when bacterial and fungal predators consume their prey and subsequently excrete their waste. It is this waste material that plants absorb – a nutrient dense liquid food source that can be absorbed directly into the plant root.

Plants produce simple sugars in the process of photosynthesis. They then inject around 30-40% of these sugars (along with other compounds they produce, collectively known as exudates) into the soil. This is a deliberate action, taken in order to feed bacteria and fungi whose numbers then grow as a result. The plant is effectively making an investment in these microorganisms. Once the bacteria and fungi have begun to harvest nutrients by mining the parent material and decomposing organic matter, the plant will receive a return on their investment – assuming of course that the predator organisms are present. This is a critical factor, which highlights the requirement for the full Soil Food Web to be present. Dr. Ingham and her colleagues demonstrated clearly that Nutrient Cycling cannot take place without both decomposer and predators being present. Furthermore, these groups must be balanced in proportion to each other and to the needs of the plant species being grown.

The Formation of Structure

Beneficial bacteria produce glues that facilitate the formation of microaggregates – small clumps of bacteria, organic matter and soil particles (sand, silt and clay). Fungal hyphae then bind these microaggregates together forming larger clumps, known as macroaggregates. As more materials are bound together, voids are created and structure is formed.

Resistance to Soil Erosion by Wind: A well structured soil  is more able to resist wind erosion than an unstructured desert soil, which is easily blown away.


Resistance to Soil Erosion by Water: A well structured soil allows excess water to flow through it. In a compacted soil, however, water logging occurs above the compaction layer and if a gradient exists, the saturated soil is able to move and is often washed-away into rivers and oceans. Beneficial microorganisms can deconstruct existing compaction layers and prevent the formation of new ones.

Reduced Irrigation Requirements: A well structured soil, with high organic matter content, acts like a sponge holding water for extended periods of time. This, coupled with the fact that plant roots are able to penetrate much deeper in a structured soil, means that irrigation requirements can be halved in year one (in some cases), when the soil food web is successfully restored. This is the case in sandy soils where water holding capacity is usually very low. In clay soils, water logging is very common. This is due to the fact that clay particles, or platelets, are flat and frequently stack closely together, resulting in compaction layers. With the presence of the Soil Food Web, the process of flocculation takes place, which results in clay particles repelling each other, thus enabling compaction layers to be broken-up and structure to form.

Weed Suppression

The presence of beneficial fungi in the soil has been shown to significantly inhibit the growth of weeds. This is because beneficial fungi secret acidic enzymes which lower soil pH. The reduced pH levels inhibit the ability of nitrifying bacteria to transform ammonia, one form of nitrogen, into nitrates, a second form of nitrogen that is vital for weeds to flourish.

Inhibiting Pests and Diseases

The vast majority of disease causing microorganisms are anaerobes, meaning they thrive in low oxygen conditions and that they shut-down in oxygen rich environments. The opposite is true for beneficial microorganisms. A well-structured soil allows air to flow in, creating an oxygen rich environment (>6ppm) which selects for beneficial microorganisms and suppresses disease causing organisms.


With the Soil Food Web in place, the plant is nutrient rich and therefore better able to protect itself, whilst diseases are inhibited by the conditions in the soil.

The world’s insect populations are crashing. A recent study found that they have been decreasing around the world by approx. 2.5% every year for the last 30 years. The main causes are thought to be chemical agriculture and climate change. Pesticides kill indiscriminately and are thought to be linked to the recent reduction in bee populations. Birds and small animals that feed on insects are also under threat. A recent study showed that bird populations in France have declined by 30% in the last 15 years. By negating the use of pesticides and other toxic chemicals, such as herbicides, the Soil Food Web can be employed to mitigate the threat of ecological collapse.

Soil Carbon Sequestration

Climate change poses an existential threat to humanity. Soil carbon sequestration is widely being recognized as a part of the solution to this problem. Here’s how it works: Plants absorb carbon from the atmosphere during photosynthesis, producing simple sugars and other related compounds. Plants then invest a substantial proportion (~40%) of these carbon-rich compounds (exudates) into the soil , in order to feed specific groups of microorganisms, namely bacteria and fungi. They do this because they expect to receive nutrients in return (as explained above).


Bacteria and fungi use this carbon-rich food source to increase their numbers, building their bodies predominantly from carbon. Fungal hyphae can remain intact in the soil for hundreds of years, and are thereby capable of locking up large quantities of carbon in the soil. Some scientists have been able to increase soil carbon by as much as 20 (metric) tonnes per hectare, per year. It has been estimated that by regenerating the world’s soils using the Soil Food Web, we can take atmospheric carbon levels back to the ‘safe-level’ as defined by the United Nations IPCC – which is 350ppm, and that this could be achieved within 15 years or less!

What Does This Privacy Policy Cover?

Soil Foodweb School LLC (“SOIL FOODWEB”) is committed to your right to privacy.  This privacy policy explains how we may use or disclose information that we obtain from or about you through your use or in connection with your use of our website.  For the purposes of this Privacy Policy, the term “website” or “websites” identifies all web pages found on or related to the following URL’s:

If you have any questions or concerns, please contact us at [email protected].

How Do We Collect Personal Information:

SOIL FOODWEB provides access on or through its website to a wide range of content, services, and media.  Users may subscribe to register for classes and workshops, subscribe to electronic newsletters, request services, inquire about training sessions, and apply for job opportunities.  SOIL FOODWEB may require you to voluntarily provide personal information that we use to facilitate all of these features.

What Personal Information We Collect:

Personal information may include your name and contact information, like your company name, mailing address, phone number, user or login name, password, or email address, payment information (like credit card numbers).  Personal information also includes any written text or communications, notes, or inquiries that you provide either on our website or by e-mail communication directly or indirectly with SOIL FOODWEB.

How We Use Your Personal Information:  

SOIL FOODWEB uses (or “processes”) personal information only as necessary for our legitimate business interests, which include improvements to our products, services, and content on our website, and also in order to respond to queries or requests, complete registrations and payments, fulfill orders, and schedule service or training.  From time-to-time, SOIL FOODWEB may use personal information to contact you to send you information about our company, classes, or other services. 

You consent to these processes by providing your personal information.  You may update your personal information or “opt out” from receiving certain communications and correspondence from us at any time through email correspondence sent to [email protected].

Retention of Your Personal Information:

SOIL FOODWEB will retain your personal information for as long as necessary to fulfill respect processes, as well as to fulfill any obligations under applicable law.

Rights of Data Owners in and to their Personal Information:

Where applicable law requires (and subject to any exceptions), you may have the right to request SOIL FOODWEB to provide you with your personal information or to delete your personal information that is held by us.  You may also have the right to restrict or object to use or processing of your personal information. You may exercise these rights by contacting us through email correspondence sent to [email protected], using the subject line “Personal Information Review Request” or “Delete Account” or “Delete My Information.”

Disclosure And Access to Personal Information:

SOIL FOODWEB considers your use of our website to be private.  However, SOIL FOODWEB may access or disclose information about you and/or the content of your communications with us, in order to: (1) comply with the law or legal process served on SOIL FOODWEB; (2) enforce and investigate potential violations of our Terms of Use, including use of this site to participate in, or facilitate, activities that violate the law; or (3) protect the rights, property, or safety of SOIL FOODWEB employees, customers, or the public.  From time to time, SOIL FOODWEB may also disclose information to selected business partners, or other third parties offering products or services in which you may be interested, provided that such third parties agree to comply with the provisions of this Privacy Policy with respect to the use of your personal information. You consent to the access and disclosures outlined in this section.

How We Collect Non-Personal Information:

SOIL FOODWEB may obtain non-personal information from your use of our website and through the use of commonly-used information-gathering tools.  These tools may include “Cookies,” which are pieces of information shared between your web browser and a website. Non-personal information may include information about the browser that you use to access the site, the operating system that you are running, what items you clicked on the applicable web page, how long you viewed a certain page, and information about the website you accessed immediately before you accessed our website.  SOIL FOODWEB may aggregate your non-personal information with the non-personal information of other users of SOIL FOODWEB’s website or of other non-personal information collected offline. SOIL FOODWEB also may collect anonymous aggregated information, like general traffic patterns within our website, to help maintain the flow and content of the website. Any and all of this non-personal information may be used to support SOIL FOODWEB’s commercial, marketing, and customer service activities, or for any other reason.

Use of Cookies:

Use of cookies enables a faster and easier experience for the user.  A cookie cannot read data off your computer’s hard drive. For information on cookies, please refer to

There are different kinds of cookies with different functions:

Session cookies These are only stored on your computer during your web session. They are automatically deleted when the browser is closed. They usually store an anonymous session ID allowing you to browse a website without having to login to each page. They do not collect any information from your computer.
Persistent cookies A persistent cookie is one stored as a file on your computer, and it remains there when you close your web browser. The cookie can be read by the website that created it when you visit that website again.
First-party cookies The function of this type of cookie is to retain your preferences for a particular website for the entity that owns that website. They are stored and sent between SOIL FOODWEB’s servers and your computer’s hard drive. They are not used for anything other than for personalization as set by you. These cookies may be either Session or Persistent cookies.
Third-party cookies The function of this type of cookie is to retain your interaction with a particular website for an entity that does not own that website. They are stored and sent between the third-party’s server and your computer’s hard drive. These cookies are usually Persistent cookies.


We generally use cookies as follows:

Functionality Some cookies allow our Sites to remember choices you make (such as your username, language or the region you are in) and provide enhanced features. For instance, a Site may be able to remember your login details, so that you do not have to repeatedly sign in to your account when using a particular device to access our Sites. These cookies can also be used to remember changes you have made to text size, font and other parts of web pages that you can customize. They may also be used to provide services you have requested such as viewing a video or commenting on an article. The information these cookies collect is usually anonymized. They do not gather any information about you that could be used for advertising or remember where you have been on the internet
Performance Some cookies collect information about how visitors use a Site, for instance which pages visitors go to most often, and if they get error messages from web pages. They also allow us to record and count the number of visitors to a Site, all of which enables us to see how visitors use a Site in order to improve the way that the Site works. The information these cookies collect is normally anonymous and is used to improve how our Sites works. However, some of these cookies may include Personal Information. Please consult your web browser’s ‘Help’ documentation or visit for more information about how to turn cookies on and off for your browser
Marketing These cookies are used to deliver content relevant to your interests on a Site and third party sites based on how you interact with our advertisements or content


Use of Web Beacons:

Other tools include “Web Beacons,” which are clear electronic images that can recognize certain types of information on your computer, such as cookies, when you view our website tied to the web beacon, and a description of the website tied to the web beacon. SOIL FOODWEB may use web beacons to operate and improve our website and e-mail communications.  Web beacons can be used alone or in conjunction with cookies to compile information about users’ usage of our website and interaction with e-mails.  SOIL FOODWEB may use information from web beacons in combination with other data we have about our clients to provide you with information about SOIL FOODWEB and our services.  SOIL FOODWEB may conduct this review on an anonymous basis.

Use of Google Analytics:

SOIL FOODWEB may use Google Analytics, a web analytics service provided by Google, Inc. (“Google”).  Google Analytics uses cookies to help websites analyze how users use the site. The information generated by the cookie about your use of our website (including your IP address) will be transmitted to and stored by Google on servers in the United States.  Google will use this information for the purpose of evaluating your use of the applicable website, compiling reports on website activity, and providing other services relating to website activity and internet usage for SOIL FOODWEB.  Google may also transfer this information to third parties where required to do so by law, or where such third parties process the information on Google’s behalf. You may refuse the use of cookies by selecting the appropriate settings on your browser, however, please note that if you do this you may not be able to use the full functionality of our website.  By using our website, you consent to the processing of data about you by Google in the manner and for the purposes set out above.

Links To Other Websites:

Our website may contain third-party links that provide access to other websites, not maintained by SOIL FOODWEB or its affiliates.  If you click on these third-party links, you will be directed from our website to another external website, which SOIL FOODWEB has no control over and assumes no responsibility for the content, privacy policies, practices, or services.  Your use of any external website is not governed by this privacy policy.

Children’s Privacy:

SOIL FOODWEB does not knowingly solicit, collect, or retain information from any individuals who are under fourteen (14) years of age.  If we learn that we have obtained personal information of a child under 14, we will take steps to delete the information as soon as possible.

How We Secure Your Information:

To prevent unauthorized access to your personal information, maintain data accuracy, and ensure the correct use of such information, SOIL FOODWEB has put in place physical, electronic, and managerial procedures as well as encryption and transaction security software to attempt to safeguard and secure the information SOIL FOODWEB obtains from this website.  However, no safeguards or security procedures or software is completely effective, and we do not guarantee the absolute security of any information provided to SOIL FOODWEB through use of our website.

Attending Webinars

Soil Foodweb School LLC occasionally creates live webinars for either promotional or educational purposes, or other. Should you choose to attend such a webinar, your voice and/or image may be recorded during the course of the webinar. Soil Foodweb School LLC retains the right to publish the recording of the webinar on its website ( and elsewhere. By attending the webinar, you are agreeing to this.

Policy Revisions:

SOIL FOODWEB reserves the right to revise this Privacy Policy from time to time in our discretion.  If SOIL FOODWEB makes modifications, SOIL FOODWEB will post the revised Privacy Policy on the website, which will take effect immediately upon posting. It is your responsibility to periodically review this Privacy Policy.

Contact Address:
PO Box 287
Corvallis, OR 97330

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We care about data privacy and security. Please review our Privacy Policy [CLICK HERE]/posted on the Site]. By using the Site, you agree to be bound by our Privacy Policy, which is incorporated into these Terms and Conditions. Please be advised the Site is hosted in the United States. 
If you access the Site from the European Union, Asia, or any other region of the world with laws or other requirements governing personal data collection, use, or disclosure that differ from applicable laws in the United States, then through your continued use of the Site, you are transferring your data to the United States, and you expressly consent to have your data transferred to and processed in the United States. 
[Further, we do not knowingly accept, request, or solicit information from children or knowingly market to children. Therefore, in accordance with the U.S. Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act, if we receive actual knowledge that anyone under the age of 13 has provided personal information to us without the requisite and verifiable parental consent, we will delete that information from the Site as quickly as is reasonably practical.]
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