Advances in soil-borne plant diseases by Rob Jenkins, C.K. Jain

By Rob Jenkins, C.K. Jain

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From becoming overgrown by moulds and fungi. Role of Soil Macrofauna 47 Another example of the association of a key indicator group with microorganisms are the fungus-growing ants (which include the leaf-cutting ants). These ants collect various materials and feed them to a symbiotic fungus that lives in their nests.

There are also soil-wood feeders and soil feeders, this means they ingest a high proportion of mineral material. Their nutrition derives mainly from welldecayed wood and partly-humified SOM. Another group of termites grows fungi in its nests (fungus-growing termites). In general, termites may be separated into five broad groups according to the type of food they ingest: Grass harvesters: these termites harvest the dead leaves of grasses, which may be stored in their nests; they belong to the families Hodotermitidae and Termitidae.

These galleries are denser in the top 40 cm and can represent up to 3 percent of the total soil volume. In these conditions, the waterholding capacity of soil can increase by 80 percent and water flux can be from four to ten times faster. Earthworm activity is very important in agricultural soils with a high degree of compaction and a ploughing pan that prevents water flux. This situation decreases water infiltration and increases surface runoff and erosion. Earthworms pierce the ploughing pan, so improving water infiltration and offering new paths for root penetration.

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