Building humus: watch the time-lapse video here!

I started the humus formation experiment in response to repeatedly asked questions about how humus forms in the soil and how it affects plant growth and agricultural production. The overwhelmingly positive responses from the public and powerful images of microscopic living organisms in the soil, were the motivation for providing a new edition of  Annie Francé-Harrar 's book 'Humus – Soil Life and Fertility' (Austrian writer and scientist) and for starting the humus formation experiment.

I tried to combine all my knowledge about soil microbial ecology to set up this experiment. As far as I know, this type of experiment has never been done before! My initial plan was to to make a time-lapse video about the visual development of humus. Later, I decided to buy a microscope and document the formation of clay-humus clusters and the related microbial community. I planned to run the experiment for three years. To my surprise, I observed the appearance of stable humus complexes after about 8 months – clear proof that the processes for humus and soil formation had already started.

I do not know how the humus layer will evolve over time but the results achieved so far are a success!


The views expressed here belong to the speaker and do not  necessarily represent FAO’s views, positions, strategies or opinions.

Submitted by Ines Fritz



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