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.
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.
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.
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
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
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
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.
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."