Soil microbiome: A keystone for sustainable agriculture

In a recent report, the FAO underscores the pivotal role of the soil microbiome in environmental preservation, combating climate change, and promoting human health. These microorganisms, though invisible to the naked eye, play a crucial role in soil health, climate regulation, and human well-being, presenting significant opportunities for more sustainable agriculture.

Unveiling microbial diversity

The realm of “soil microbes” is vast and largely unexplored. According to the report, these microorganisms likely represent the most genetically diverse communities on the planet. However, less than 1% of this genetic diversity and their functions have been studied to date.

Key roles of microbes

Soil microorganisms provide a myriad of ecosystem services, from purifying air and water to fostering biodiversity. The report emphasizes that healthy soils are essential for achieving sustainable development goals by 2030 and the United Nations Decade on Ecosystem Restoration.

Contribution to crop nutrition and carbon sequestration

Plants benefit from symbiotic relationships with organisms like mycorrhizal fungi, exchanging nutrients for sugars from photosynthesis. Beyond plant nutrition, this process plays a crucial role in building organic matter in the soil, contributing to the sequestration of atmospheric carbon dioxide.

Crop protection and biodiversity

A diverse soil microbiome acts as a protective shield for plants, limiting space for pathogens. Additionally, these microorganisms actively contribute to soil biodiversity, influencing its structure and aeration positively.

Impact of agricultural practices on soil microbiome

The report highlights agricultural practices that can negatively influence the soil microbiome. Excessive tillage, the use of pesticides, and concentrated synthetic fertilizers are identified as factors degrading soil health. Conversely, crop rotations and cover crops are acknowledged for their positive impact on ecosystem resilience.

Microbial opportunities and innovation

Growing awareness of the soil microbiome’s importance opens the door to significant changes in agricultural practices. Microbial-based innovations, such as biopesticides, biofertilizers, and biostimulants, represent promising avenues for more sustainable agriculture. The market for these biological agricultural innovations is rapidly growing and is predicted to dominate the organic agricultural market in the coming years.

FAO’s challenges and recommendations

Despite their potential, microbial technologies face economic and logistical challenges to compete with agrochemical alternatives. The FAO emphasizes the need for investment in research, biobanking, and the consolidation of knowledge. Education and communication efforts are also encouraged to raise awareness of the soil microbiome’s significance. Additionally, the FAO advocates for the development of regulatory frameworks conducive to innovation while ensuring the proper assessment of the impacts of new technologies.


In conclusion, the soil microbiome emerges as a key player in the shift towards more sustainable agriculture. Understanding and harnessing this microscopic world offer potential solutions to current challenges in the environment, food security, and climate. As consumers, we can contribute by favoring soil-friendly agricultural practices and supporting farmers engaged in regenerative agriculture.

In this context, the project TRIBIOME emerges as a groundbreaking initiative addressing the complexities of microbiomes in agriculture. From soil health to innovative modulators, the project aims to revolutionize food production sustainably. With a multi-actor approach, TRIBIOME’s impact extends to human and animal health, paving the way for a resilient and interconnected future

Executive FAO summary is available here

The full FAO report is publically available here

Contact or Follow the project’s LinkedIn page