Day 19 - Save Soil

Day 19 – Ants and soil

When we came (for the third time) in Brazil we wanted to start cultivating some veggies and herbs.
Unfortunately, all of our initiatives ended up sooner than expected. Some of the reasons were: lack of knowledge about the local plants we could use in order to protect our future crops. Another reason was the huge amount of rain water dropped on the land even during the summer periods. And maybe the most important reason were the ants that live around our garden. Having the house surrounded only by mata (forest) the presence of ants around is just something normal. And we are talking about some big species ants like the black ones which have more than 1 cm long body. Thinking to get them out of the garden was actually impossible.

On the other hand we did not really want to stop them to live their normal life because we know that:

  • these tiny, social insects have an amazing style of living in big colonies which can consist of thousands to millions of ants;
  • ants play a crucial role in promoting a healthy ecosystem. In the soil, they serve as active biological control agents that feed on the eggs of pests and disturb their habitat. They do not feed on the plant itself and only build their nests using the soil pellets. 
  • ants are very organized and use very well the space they occupy. Their aim is to shape the soil to build themselves a residence space. They do not alter the soil nutrition or feed on the plants’ leaves, stems, and roots.
  • by digging up holes in the soil ants promote adequate aeration. This will reduce compaction and the roots can easily absorb the nutrients. 
  • being food for many pollinating birds and animals, indirectly they promote pollination
  • ants are experts in speeding up the process of decomposition. They dig holes into the soil, and that gives way to more air, water, and nutrients that reach the roots. 

It is an amazing thing watching them doing what they need to do every day. Here is just a little sample of what organized work mean.

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