Heads Up Seven Up, it’s time to talk about Soil Structure…

I remember playing this game as a kid in school and it was a great way to have a quick moment of fun as a group or class. This article is not going to be so effective but it will be informative. The challenge is to capture your attention in a way that doesn’t create disinterest. Are you interested yet? No? What if I mentioned a big, fluffy, sweet smelling, bright colored, slow moving ball of cotton candy! This might catch your attention but it’s of no significance to this article or reality in any way except pointing at the act of guiding your attention through words. Imagination and creativity is key for holding attention and I would like you, the reader, to commit to reading the rest of this article with your imagination! Follow these words in a way that you can connect with creatively because it’s an important topic I wanted to dive more into.

After TALKIN SOIL in the last article I wanted to get into the structure of soil and understand it as a living system that nature has designed far more intelligent than humans could even dream of creating. To simplify things let’s start with looking down at our feet and imagining digging a hole down ten or twenty feet deep. If you could clearly see this deep underground what would you see? Well, it clearly will depend physically where your body is located in proportion to the landscape. Since we are here in Central Florida, chances are you will see sand, sand, and take a wild guess… more sand. But is sand soil? And if so, why does it matter?

Soil is made up of three aspects which are physical, chemical, and biological. The physical components that make up the soil are: water, air, minerals (sand, silt, and clay), and organic matter. The chemical structure of soil is the pH, nutrient holding capacity and availability, as well as elemental components such as sodium, nitrogen, etc.

Soil biological elements include bacteria, microbes, nematodes, and fungi. Bacteria, microbes, and fungi are like little people in the soil that spend their lives consuming, producing, and transferring energy in the soil. Fungi, according to Paul Stamets, is like the internet of the soil transferring information and energy from one organism to the other. For more info google the Soil Food Web.

Poor Soils. – Please understand that soil without organic matter is sand and here in central Florida, we have lots of sand that is lacking organic matter or nutrients. Poor Soils! Organic matter is nature’s soil improvement foundation. Not synthetic or chemical fertilizers! There are only two forms of organic matter which are animal and plant waste. Humans have farmed and fertilized with these two forms of organic matter since the beginning.

Take a close look into the woods or your backyard possibly and observe what I am talking about.

Millions of organisms and species all coexist from birth to death cycles of animals, plants, insects, and bacteria to build soil. In one perspective, like a human gut, bacteria, fungi, and other organisms or elements, digest and transform the dead waste of plants or animals and convert it into nutrients for living plants to absorb. Without this plant waste such as leaves, sticks, mulch, etc, and animal waste, the plants that living animals and humans eat would not exist. It’s a big cycle. You know, circle of life stuff.

If you think you don’t have a green thumb, understanding the basics of feeding the soil to feed the plants, to feed animals and people is a great start and did i mention understanding we have Poor Soils! Over 50% of the soil on the planet is now turning into desert and or poor in nutrients meaning very little life is sustained on half of the planet! Don’t believe me? Take a look on google earth. Do you see what I’m talking about here! This is a big issue and a red flag. Soil in agriculture needs to contain at least 3% organic matter to sustain life in the soil.

Most of the soil in the United States and Global agriculture land contains less than 3%. For more information google Rick Haney USDA and Elaine Ingram and visit consciousplanet.org.

Healthy soil is the lifeblood of a permanent land based food system. If you get the soil structure right, everything else will work well. When looking at the most regenerative farming methods of ancient cultures, they all understood this. None of them had microscopes or science degrees, but they did have observational skills, and lived in a certain system that managed to create soils that have lasted for hundreds of years for both their survival, and generations to come. We have the tools of soil science and being able to observe the microbial life of the soil, but you don’t have to be a scientist to have a successful, healthy, and abundant, landscape or garden that continues to gain more fertility every year. For more info look up permaculture, regenerative farming, and edible / native-plant landscapes!

The idea that most people don’t even care about, think about, or understand how important healthy soil is a direct correlation as to how far from reality of living in health and harmony with each other and the planet we are living. The idea that we just created a society that can exist without giving back to the life of the soil with organic matter and expect to colonize mars or live in a virtual reality in the future is insanity and doesn’t guarantee a future for our children.
We cannot be healthy in an unhealthy environment. Our environment includes soil as a foundational structure upon which our society is built and not even talked about on CNN or FOX news!

So why is it that such an important part of our daily lives such as soil is missed in our society as a priority? To be continued….
Steven Truner, Plant Lives Matter