Our topsoils are tired, hungry and depleted of life. We have overworked them, poisoned them with chemicals and stripped them of their life. So long as we feed on foods from unhealthy soils, we in turn find ourselves tired, depleted, and malnourished despite being overfed. Plants and trees are suffering the same doom.
Nobel Prize winning scientist Dr. Alex Carrel cut to the heart of the matter: Diseases are created chiefly when we destroy the harmony reigning among mineral substances present in infinitesimal amounts in air, water, food and, most crucially, soil.
Today's scientists report that, our topsoils contain less that sixteen of the sixty plus minerals needed to create vibrant plant, and hence animal and human life. Demineralization and destruction of the microbial imbalance of our soils over the last century of petrochemical agriculture and home use are the main culprits.
Soil management must concern itself with nutrient balance, humus and various forms of "soil life". The soil is full of insoluble nutrients, humus plant matter and to make them exchangeable to plants these materials must first go through the microbial system. This system is referred to as "soil life", as the microbes are living organism in the soil, that make all nutrients exchangeable to plants.
In recent years agricultural and turf managers have turned more towards the organic approach, in an effort to restore and rebuild the soils with natural occurring microbes and in turn reduce the need and dependency of petrochemicals. Understanding the function of microbes in the soil is essential, as it is these very same bacteria and microbes that create the exchange conditions of minerals and nutrients for plants and trees.
A balanced soil with good biological activity contains an estimated 930 billion microorganisms in each pound of soil and 70 pounds of them living and working in a 1000 square feet. Turnover is rapid and in 100 pounds of dead microorganisms there is 10 pounds of nitrogen, five pounds of phosphate and 2 pounds potassium and about a 1/2 pound each of calcium oxide, magnesium oxide and sulfate. Add air, water, insects, worms and humus and the yield is a healthy productive soil. The soil beneath our feet should be like a nice fresh slice of bread with all the capillaries containing all the microbes, gases, moisture, vitamins and nutrients for healthy plant growth.
The forest is a peculiar organism of unlimited kindness and benevolence... It affords protection to all beings, offering shade even to the axeman destroying it. A thousand years ago, 90% of earth’s land was still covered with forests, a hundred years ago only 20% still had forests. Plants and trees purify our water and are the lungs of the earth.
Trees often tell their own story quite well. Oaks exhibiting interveinal chlorosis and mineral deficiencies may be showing that there is inadequate iron and mineral uptake due to high alkaline soil conditions. Poor annual growth, small leaves with poor color exhibit inadequate nitrogen nutrition, although other factors may be involved.
Tissues and Soil analysis for minerals, nutrients and the soil organic matter is essential for a good tree and soil health care program. The health of trees is not just treating the symptoms but, treating the health of the tree and the soil. Our Hill Country soils are high alkaline & calcium, however very lacking in nitrogen, phosphorus, phosphate, iron, micro- nutrients, humic and folic acids containing the DNA & RNA and subsequently the biological and the microbial activity are almost nonexistent.
Urban soils are deficient in humic acids, microbial activity and mineral availability. These elemental minerals are usually present however, they are "locked up" chemically, and are not available to plants and trees until microbial activity transforms them into a soluble form.
Humus and humic acids in general, there has been far more positive results on Western soils. The soil that benefits is typically high pH with low iron, minerals and low organic matter and extractable humic acids. Like any fertilizer or soil conditioner, it only works when conditions favor it. In soils of high organic content, they seem to tie-up soil nutrients.
"Each generation takes the earth as trustees. We ought to bequeath to posterity as many forests and orchards as we have exhausted and consumed."
J. Sterling Morton
founder of arbor day
"Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserve of strength that will endure as long as life lasts. There is something infinitely healing in the repeated refrains of nature --- the assurance that dawn comes after night, and spring after the winter."
"I never before knew the full value of trees. Under them I breakfast, dine, write, read and receive company."
See related articles;
Soil pH, - Plant pH, - Cation Exchange Capacity, - Iron Chlorosis, - Nitrogen, - Essential Tree Elements
Feeding the Soil That Feeds Life
Soil: The hidden universe where everything begins
Soil is one of the building blocks of life and is crucial for the growth of the food chain. It sustains the bacteria and plant life that are at the base of the food chain. Soil forms through the breaking down of rock by both the environment and by bacteria. It contains the nutrients necessary for plants to grow. Through agriculture, humans exploit the resources of the soil and drain many of the nutrients. Farmers then have to replace the nutrients through the use of chemical fertilizers. Cultivation of the soil leads to its degradation, and if farmers are not careful their use of soil will eventually make it unusable. Wheat is one of the many types of crops grown in the USA and Canadian soils. As with all seeds, wheat seeds need to be planted properly, and not too deeply, or they will not grow. Today's farmers need to balance the profitability of each crop with the possible degradation of the topsoil that is essential to plant life and growth. One technique to decrease degradation of the topsoil is to till the field less. This creates less erosion of the land. However, tilling the land less means that more weeds will grow, and more money will need to be spent on weedkillers. There is a fine line between growing a healthy and profitable crop and badly damaging the earth that crops depend on.