Soil Biology with Paul Taylor

P2_IMG1One of the major global concerns we face today is the heavily depleted state and continued degeneration of our soil. Without healthy soil, we cannot produce healthy food and however obvious it might seem, the food that we eat directly affects the nature of our being. It’s funny how the most common sense is no longer at all common.

In 1907, Theodore Roosevelt said: “the nation that destroys its soil, destroys itself”. Since that time we have had a salivating appetite for destruction. At present 90% of Australian soil is considered to be of poor quality…

In order to appreciate the significance of this statistic, it is important that we understand the society of microorganisms that exist beneath our feet. In one tablespoon of healthy soil there lives a population of microbes that is greater than the population of human beings on earth – over 6.9 billion microorganisms, working together to make available nutrients to the soil in which we produce the food that enables us to survive. If only the human population of the world was as resourceful and harmonious as our micro acquaintances.

Microbes supply plants with nitrogen and other essential minerals such as potassium and phosphate in exchange for carbohydrates and sugars. Over the last century conventional agriculture has applied practices that have severely depleted this microbiological life. Chemical fertilizers, which continue to be used extensively in agricultural farming worldwide, are designed to kill microbes in order to extract their nutrients into the soil. This provides a short-term boost to the system that creates the superficial conditions under which crops can be grown quickly to provide for the unnatural demand of the global food market. The significant consequence of this process is the supply of toxic, nutrient deficient produce and a substantial reduction in the diversity of soil microbiology. This lack of diversity not only limits nutritional content in our food, it exposes the system to detrimental pest and pathogen attack – a further threat to our health and a bonus for chemical companies, who then make a few extra billion in pesticide sales.

1 Comment
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