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  • Soil Health

  • Biological


Nematodes play a crucial role within the soil fauna community, engaging in interactions with various organisms such as bacteria, fungi, and microarthropods. Their involvement aids in essential soil processes, including nutrient cycling, decomposition, maintenance of plant health, and soil structure (Neher, 2001).

The sensitivity of nematode populations to changes in environmental conditions (Bongiorno, 2020), such as soil compaction, pollution, and moisture levels, allows them to serve as early indicators of disturbances in the soil ecosystem, offering valuable insights into soil health (Neher, 2001).

Occupying diverse trophic levels, from herbivores to bacterivores and fungivores, nematodes mirror the microbial and nutrient dynamics within the soil. The composition of nematode communities serves as a revealing indicator of nutrient cycling, microbial activity, and the overall structure of the soil food web (Neher, 2001).

Ubiquitous in nature, nematodes can be found in every habitat (Neher, 2001).

For more information on nematodes follow the AHDB knowledge library link.

Methodology summary

  • Specialist required for morphological identification. It is expected that 2 samples can be analysed per day.
  • Recent advances in rapid DNA sequencing (metabarcoding) could provide a practical and affordable way for laboratories to determine the composition of the soil nematode community (Bongiorno, 2020).

More information on methods on nematode community analysis.

Soil samples can be sent to a laboratory for extraction, counts and identification into taxonomic groups or functional groups based on their characteristics, behaviour, and ecological roles.

To collect samples for sending to a laboratory, detailed information on soil sampling such as where to take the samples from, how many, the best time to sample, and depth of sampling can be found at the Farm Carbon Toolkit.

Metric threshold or direction of change

Not applicable


  • Agricultural
  • Forest
  • Grassland
  • Peatland
  • Saltmarsh
  • Wetland


  • Community
  • Population


  • High


  • Tier 2

Technical expertise

  • High

Standardised methodology

  • Yes