The Universe Beneath Your Feet

Soil is alive.  It’s a complex web of macro (that which we can see with our eyes), and micro (those we mostly cannot see) organisms.  One tablespoon of soil contains over six billion bacteria and countless other species that contribute to a medium teeming with life.   We depend on this life to sustain us.  In soil, we 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.   Fertile soil is alive with the biodiversity of a thriving forest; complex ecosystems connecting, growing,  living, co-existing, dying.

The Universe Beneath Our Feet
Soil is Alive

In many places of the world topsoil, (where most soil life is found), is being lost at an unprecedented rate.   Our lives depend on saving, cultivating, and regenerating soil life.  Increasing soil fertility has a positive domino effect and the act of making soil more alive holds answers to some of the most vexing environmental challenges that we face today; including water quality, eco-system and human health issues, and global climate change.

Increased Soil Quality = Increased Water Quality

Healthy soil retains moisture . Water that falls on fertile soil doesn’t rush off.  It’s slowed down by soil organic matter and given a chance to soak into the soil where it is filtered;  watering plants and being cleaned as it slowly saturates  into the ground.  This conserves water, increases water quality by lessening or eliminating run-off,  and saves money on water bills and store-bought soil amendments, since nutrients are kept on-site.

Healthy Soil = Healthy Humans

Food that is grown in fertile soil contains more nutrients than food grown in depleted soils.  Poisonous chemicals found in synthetic fertilizers, pesticides, and herbicides kill microorganisms that reside in and on the soil.  These organisms perform numerous ecosystem services; including providing nutrients for plants, creating soil humus and loam, and increasing plant health.  The soil is filled with billions of unemployed microorganisms ready and willing to take on the job of providing nutrients to plants and indirectly to you!

Climate Change- What Goes Up Must Come Down!

Fertile soil is a natural sink for atmospheric carbon; the very same carbon that is contributing to  global climate change.  By increasing the number of carbon sequestering organisms, (especially fungi)  and plant life in the soil, excess carbon can be pulled out of the atmosphere and stored in the soil.  Carbon in the soil is stored in plant roots, microorganism bodies and in the plants themselves.  Too much carbon in the air is causing erratic weather and rising ocean levels. It’s time to pull that carbon out of the atmosphere and into the soil where it can have a beneficial effect.

Increasing Soil Fertility Is A Job For All Of  Us-  What Can You Do?

Support farmers and ranchers who treat the soil like gold, who preserve and increase soil fertility by using non-toxic methods of growing food,  including  no-till or low-till plowing,  composting and mulching;  all of which increase soil microbial life.  If you eat meat, buy grass-fed beef from ranchers who practice holistic or rotational grazing,  methods that mimic the natural patterns found in nature.

If you grow food yourself, use non-toxic methods, including composting and mulching. This will help activate and support soil microbial populations which are waiting to be called upon to get their job of creating healthy soil done.  With their assistance and your attention and actions,  we can begin the great task of mending the earth and honoring the very life that sustains us.  This is the beginning of the Soil Solution.

To learn more about the fascinating world of soil,  look for The Soil Solution film to be released this summer.

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2 Comments on “The Universe Beneath Your Feet”

  1. Pingback: Permaculture Basics For Gardeners | Sustainable World Radio

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