Increasing Soil Fertility Is A Job For Us All
Our lives depend on soil, the hidden universe beneath our feet. In soil, grow the plants that provide us with oxygen, food, clothing and shelter. In soil, the water cycle is regulated and water purified. In this soil universe, sometimes disparagingly called “dirt” live the creatures that decompose all dead organic matter on Earth; turning waste into value. Soil is the meeting place of atmosphere, hydrosphere, lithosphere and biosphere. Like most places where “edges” of different worlds meet, the soil is a dynamic interface. Alive with the biodiversity of a thriving forest; fertile soil contains countless organisms that are connecting, growing, living, co-existing and dying. Because soil is a natural reservoir for atmospheric carbon, soil may provide a solution to the global climate crisis.
Soil is our quiet support system, yet every year we lose much of our soil due to erosion, overgrazing and poor land management. What can we do to conserve the soil we have and support its fertility?
1.) When you buy food support farmers and ranchers who treat the soil like gold, who use non-toxic/organic methods of growing food including: low-till plowing, composting, cover cropping and mulching. If you eat meat, buy grass-fed beef from ranchers who practice holistic or rotational grazing, methods that mimic the natural predator/prey patterns found in nature.
2.) If you grow food yourself, don’t use pesticides and herbicides which have a detrimental effect on the soil food web. Don’t turn your soil over, this disrupts the first 3″ of life within the soil. Start composting and mulching. Make compost tea and spray it on your plants and in the soil. This will boost your plants immunity and add beneficial soil microbes to your garden. Lastly, always keep your soil covered. This will keep your soil on site and alive.