Nutrient Cycling is the process by which beneficial soil microorganisms collect nutrients from soil organic matter and the weathering of 'parent material.' Different sized rocks, sand, silt and clay particles are all considered 'parent material.' They hold minerals, food for plants that's not readily usable for their roots to absorb. These rocks, sand, silt and clay structures contain phosphorus, potassium, iron, boron, calcium, etc., that plants cannot directly access and "eat."
Nevertheless, soil microbes such as beneficial fungi and bacteria produce enzymes that break down these structures, consequently releasing the nutrients they contain. The bacteria and fungi immediately soak up these nutrients, which are afterwards made available to plant roots when microbe predators ingest their prey and discharge their waste. This by-product material that plants absorb – a nutrient dense liquid food source known as Soil Organic Carbon-can be absorbed directly into the plant roots.
There is a mutually beneficial relationship that takes place in healthy soils, between plants and microbes. During Photosynthesis, plants produce carbohydrates. They transform solar energy into chemical energy. They then exudate these carbs (along with other compounds they exudate) into the soil through their roots. This is an intentional action by the plant to sustain bacteria and fungi whose numbers grow due to the constant food source availability. The plant, through its roots, efficiently invests in these microbes. When the bacteria and fungi have begun to collect nutrients by decomposing organic matter and mining the 'parent material,' the plants are fed by Nutrient Cycling.
Nutrient Cycling is a critical process that only happens in healthy soils. To successfully establish vegetation in our hydroseeding efforts, beneficial soil microbe and root activity must be present in the root zone.
By Rene Barrientos