It is possible to clean up soils and water through biological processes. This is called bioremediation. Soils are the support for the development of plants and microorganisms that feed on carbon chains of all origins, organic but also (and it is less known) of treatments derived from chemistry such as hydrocarbons. It is therefore by applying practices that respect the development of the macro and telluric microfauna that the purifying power of soil microorganisms will be maximized.
The purifying power of microorganisms
The true key to the functioning and control of terrestrial biogeochemical cycles, the microbial potential of soils is used to support many functions:
- Nutrient availability for crops
- The stability (physical and chemical) of soils
- Control of pathogenic strains
- Degradation of organic contaminants
Through specific metabolic pathways and through the synthesis of degrading enzymes, certain microbial populations are capable of fragmenting and degrading organic compounds, toxic compounds, and heavy metals which can be concentrated in polluted and contaminated soils. This bioremediation process is a major issue, particularly in the management of sustainable development of water quality.
Several processes highlight these microbial processes in the treatment of contaminated soil from former industrial sites, for example. Likewise, there are sewage treatment plants based solely on this faculty of microorganisms.
We can therefore broadly develop the idea that the water that will infiltrate a plot cultivated with practices for preserving biological activity will contain negligible or even zero residue levels.
How to increase the bioremediation of agricultural soils?
The rhizosphere is the seat of a complex soil-plant-telluric ecosystem. It is in the environment close to root systems that many associations are created:
- Symbiotic or non-symbiotic rhizospherics (mycorrhizae, nitrogen-fixing bacteria, etc.)
- Synergistic with different soil animals (earthworms, springtails…) promoting mineralization and humification of organic matter
- For stimulating or inhibiting the growth and establishment of plant populations
- For the development or inhibition of plant pathologies
It is the addition of several practices respectful of the environment of the roots and of these numerous actors which will allow the maximum development of this biological activity necessary to ensure the bioremediation of pollutants:
- Avoid bare soil
- Practice an eco-fertilization favoring the rhizosphere
- Restore crop residues and cutlery to increase organic matter levels
By promoting the development of microscopic organisms, bacteria and fungi, agriculture puts nature at the service of … nature, but also at the service of its own productivity.