19/3/2018

Healthy soil vital for all: our letter to The Guardian

Soil

I am delighted that the Government is finally putting soil on the agenda. A healthy soil is vital to ensure both high yields and future high yields, as well as environmental protection. There are no negative consequences for the promotion of maintaining a healthy soil (UK farmers to be given first ever targets on soil health, 14 March).

It is important to note that the government, science community and farmers are referring to soil “health” – as only something that is considered alive can have health, thus using this term we are all (unconsciously) acknowledging that we regard soil as a living ecosystem and not just an inert substrate for food production. There are more bacteria living within a teaspoon of soil than there are humans around the globe.

Unfortunately, due to the difficulty in seeing what is going on below ground, the vast abundance and diversity of species are often overlooked, even though they are the driving forces behind all processes occurring within the soil. These points and more were stressed at a recent conference at the Allerton Project, which has been at the forefront of soil and water research for the past 25 years.

Felicity Crotty
Soil scientist at Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust (GWCT)

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Comments

on soil

at 0:54 on 24/03/2018 by VIC OFFREDI

i am pleased that you are bringing this subject up.there is much work looking at soil erosian that we have been causing through the use of ploughing and chemical fertilisers. instead of caring for the soil organically,. this includes looking at why do we turn the soil over? ,breaking up the microrganisms and mycorrhizal fungi that are naturaiiy in the soil that maintain the soil's fertility.. look at paul gauchi's "Back to Eden Gardening". Green Gold by John d Liu or the One Straw Revolution byMasnobu Fukouka as examples of alternative ways of taking care of the soil. we need to move away from the Monsantos of this world that are there to make fortunes on the back of bio diversity and the soil's it's subjugation to our will. also look at the work of soil scientists Lydia and Bernard Bourguignon in France who have been showing the whole sale distruction and impaction of the soil caused by the ploughing and tilling . The use of artificial nitrogen and phosphates is a result of stockpiles that were no longer needed for making bombs in the First World War and so were converted into fertilzers. who goes to the woods or the priaries and turns the soil or puts fertizlizers down? yet they seem to grow well and have done long before man ever started to intervene in the process. Simpler systems such as using permaculture techniques to maintain the soil in a healty balance for future generations are required instead of the impoverishment of our planet's soil that is occuring now. Have we forgotton the Dust Bowl of the 1930's? " all things are connected.whatever befalls the earth befalls the sons of the earth. Man did not weave the web of life, he is merely a strand of it. whatever he does to the web, he does to himself." THE ECOLOGICAL POEM

Soil

at 9:11 on 21/03/2018 by Dougal Hosford

Your letter about soil and how good it is to see Mr Gove trumpeting it's benefits etc is on the surface of course very true. However, what is healthy soil? It is very difficult to measure. There are many views on this definition and what worries me is that Mr Gove hasn't got any more idea than we have. Soil that drains quickly, has many worm holes in and other evidence of plentiful worm activity at the end of the winter has to be an indication that something is right. As a farmer one sees and hears much being trumpeted on this subject but very little in terms of how to analyse one's soil cost effectively to really establish how good or bad it is. How often does anyone for instance say how bad ploughing is because it turns up all the worms for instant death by seagull? There is so much talk about cover crops and there effectiveness but it is so easy to see how this is driven and promoted by seed house selling the gold plated seed. education is what we all need in order to establish what we are actually dealing with. My gut feeling is that our own soils here are in very good condition. We have lots of worms, very well draining fields etc etc but where are the benchmarks to support and measure this view? Any comments received gratefully!

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