Key Terms and Ideas

Biofilm – particularily herbaceous plants when under suitable conditions (enough humidity and mild temperatures), readily establish a living shield throughout some or all of the plant surfaces. This living skin is made up of microbes, enzymes and other substances. Similar in function to the simplified films of protection that microbes use for their own survival. This biofilm protects mainly the leaves and more tender parts of a plant. Compost tea and other foliar amendments lend huge microbial diversity and health towards a plants biofilm.

Cation Exchange Capacity – the ability of a soil to hold or make available nutrients, to plants. Most plant nutrients have a positive charge. Clays and humus are negatively charged, and as a result can hold nutrients.

Ecologic Trends – the direction an ecosystem or forest is headed in the not-so-distant future.

Effective Precipitation – the portion of the total rainfall which becomes available for plant growth (among other notable uses).

Humus – traditionally used to refer to well structured, healthy soils containing enough humic substances to emit the renowned, earthy fragrance of a living soil.

Humates/Humic Substances (humic and fulvic acids) – colloidal substances that form from the breakdown of lignin (complex carbon chain), which comes from woody material. So essentially, humic substances are very stable and complex carbon based molecules which greatly improve a soils ability to process organic matter, lock up the subsequent nutrients and structure the soil into aggregates and a complex stability of its own. This soil structuring generally takes years within temperate or tropical climates. But may be greatly catalyzed with appropriate plant density, to naturally form a good mulch layer, and deep shade for the topsoil.

Hydraulic Lift – the ability of many plants to transport water from depth to the surface soil, and exude water from roots to the soil.

Inflection Point – the point in a valley where the terrain begins to change from a concave (steeper) valley head to a convex shape, where the potentially eroded sediment from the upper valley, settles out, and the watershed usually infiltrates best down-slope from this point

Basic Keyline Design – used to equally distribute a rain events watershed across ridges and valleys. This is done by establishing rip lines or a single swale just after the inflection point of a valley, which is then repeated up and down the valley and ridgle lines, always coming off parallel to the keyline (initial swale). Which results in successive swales becoming slightly off contour, to passively spread water evenly across uneven land.

Mycorrhizae fungi – usually a symbiotic reltionship between a fungi and a plant.

Endomycorrhizal fungi – is a group of fungi that commonly associate with the vast majority of herbaceous plants, and the majority of softwood trees/shrubs

Ectomycorrhizal fungi – is a group of fungi that commonly associate with larger hardwood trees, specifically coniferous trees.

Orographic Lift – is when an air mass is forced from a low to high elevation as it moves over a rising terrain. As the air mass rises, it cools and may reach 100% relative humidity. Forming clouds and potentially rainfall.

Pore Space – the volume of void space in a soil. An ideal soil has 50% pore space and 50% solid material.

Root Respiration – unlike leaves in sunlight, roots need oxygen to function. Roots take in oxygen and release carbon dioxide into the soil pore space.

Soil Structure – the arrangement of primary soil particles into secondary particles.

Surface Sealing – fine particles on the surface of  soil that inhibit water infiltration.

Water Stable Aggregate – a soil aggregate that is stable in water, and resists dissolving into primary particles. Aggregates are usually created and sustained from biologic activity.

Watershed – after soil saturation, excess water, flowing below or above ground is any given areas watershed.


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