Well I spent Friday evening looking at microbes with my shadowing microscope from a small sample of a Korean Natural Farming composting trial that Andrew gave me when picking up a couple of yards of compost. I did not do a full biological assessment as it was Friday night and I am also still learning about identification of the little fellows. I was going back and forth between Soil Food Web notes from the courses I have done and I did a few different slides too.
This sample was teaming with bacteria of many shapes and had the most nematodes I have ever seen in a single drop. I could only identify bacterial feeding nematodes which are the ones you want along with a bunch of nematode eggs. They munch on the bacteria and poop out plant available nutrients. I did see a few testate Amoeba and only one motile ciliate. There were a lot of amoeba and protozoa cysts along with a number of ciliate cysts. The ciliates are the guys you don't really want but they thrive in anaerobic conditions so this may have been anaerobic at some point during the breakdown. The amoeba and other protozoa will also feed on the bacteria and fungi and also contribute plant available nutrients via the poop loop.There were a number of different kinds of fungi present too in the samples along with a number of fungal spores. Lots of life and the cysts will come to life when conditions are right, hopefully when you apply them to your garden beds!
Fungal to Bacteria ratio is what is discussed a lot and this is all good but if that is all you have, that does not make the nutrients plant available. You need the predators in the system too to have a healthy soil food web. I did see a mircoarthropod in the sample too. I don't think it was a tardigrade but it may have been. I saw a couple of spikes off the end of it and have not seen a feature like that on a tardigrade but there are many different species. You could see six legs and I think tardigrades have eight so I don't know what it was but they too are predators and good to have. That shows in one of the videos.
Sorry for not labeling them all but I am always amazed at what you can see in one drop of water taken from a 1/10 dilution from 1 gram of soil. I put them up on my Flickr account here.
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Pretty awesome Tom! Whats really great is that sample is an example of how active a compost can be while it ages when the humidity and other environmental conditions are met. You can see how just a small amount when applied to an inactive bed with living roots or decaying matter to consume would do really well.