Soil is the Digestive Tract of Nature

December 7, 2015 by

Assuming the above statement to be true, the realm of plants would then make up the body of nature.
So where in this picture do the animals and humans fit? Well, the term that comes to mind is “parasites living on the body” - like lice.

I don't really feel like a louse!

But coming back to the above assumption of soil being the digestive tract of nature, there are some uncanny parallels between it and the digestive tracts of thee and me.

The key in both cases are microorganisms – bacteria, fungi etc.

Soil microbes

Soil microbes

These little organisms take the input and convert it to a usable form for the body to grow and to keep warm and provide energy for physical activity in the case of people and animals.

The input for you and I and other animals is the food we consume.

For soil, the input is organic matter in the form of decaying vegetation, killed by frost in the fall, dead leaves, fallen trees, even dead bodies, compost and animal manure.

Microbe decomposition turns all of this input into nutrients and enzymes needed for vigorous plant growth.

Soil is composed roughly of 45% mineral component in the form of ground up rock and 5% organic matter. The rest is water and air.

The activity of the biomass, the microorganisms that cause the decomposition of organic matter, is heavily influenced by temperature and the amount of water and air available to it.

Clear cut for farming

Clear cut for farming

Clearing the natural vegetation from an area to use for agricultural crops, exposes it to the extremes of temperature and drying of the soil, particularly in the tropics. It also compacts the soil through the use of heavy equipment and removes a source of organic matter from the scene.

Similar results are caused by overgrazing.

Overgrazing

Overgrazing

Exposed soil is subject to erosion by wind, like in the dust bowl of the thirties or by heavy rains, washing it into creek and rivers, destroying their healthy environment through siltation.

The excessive use of chemicals in the form of fertilizers, herbicides and pesticides kills much of the living portion of the soil, robbing it of the ability to regenerate.

Repeated plowing releases much of the soil's carbon content and makes it less productive.

In the last 40 years about 30% of all arable soil has been lost. At the present rate of destruction, we have about 60 years left before it is all gone.

Dust bowl of the 1930s

Dust bowl of the 1930s

It seems strange to think of topsoil as a non renewable resource but the present situation points out that it is.

Things need to change!

The conventional agricultural establishment, by hurting and diminishing the soil are furiously killing the golden goose and will eventually see the error of their ways and will be forced to adopt a more sustainable way of doing things.

If you grow your own garden, take care of your soil.

Here are some points to observe:

  • Don't dig it over too much. Just loosen it up a bit if it is compacted.
  • Never leave the bare earth exposed. Cover it with mulch – leaves, grass clippings, straw, even pulled weeds, as long there are no ripe seeds on them.
  • Do not walk on it or compact it any other way.
  • Do not use chemical fertilizers. Add organic matter in the form of compost and manure.
  • Get the pH of your soil tested. The correct range is from 6 – 7.5 pH. If it is below 6, you need to add some ground limestone. A reading above 7.5 pH calls for an addition of soil sulfur. The garden stores who do the testing also have charts, telling you, how to bring your soil's pH back into range, should it be out.

This is one way to support the survival of our soil.

The other way is to only buy organic food.

Organic farmers take care of the ground they grow their produce in.

Together with sunlight, clean air and water, alive soil is one of the most crucial components for sustaining life on Earth.

The total landmass of our planet is 57 million square miles. Of that only 12 million square miles are arable.

Global soil degradation

Global soil degradation

Right now, rampant destruction of this component is going on in the Amazon, Africa, South East Asia, China, Russia and even in North America and Europe.

This is caused by the practices of the large mechanical monoculture, deforestation, overgrazing and the resulting erosion.

About 40 000 square miles of arable land are lost each year.

In the meantime, the world population is growing by about a quarter million people per day – two opposing trends, spelling disaster.

If we kill the digestive tract, the body will die. With the body of nature dead, what will happen to the parasites?

 

Before that happens, take a look at my store! You don't have to buy anything -  but you could, if you wanted to.

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