I am a soil farmer, a student of soil. My job, my mission, is to build soil health and fertility. If I am able to accomplish this task all else will fall into place. The goal is to grow beautiful, healthy, nutritionally dense, wonderful tasting products, both plant and animal. To do this I need to focus on the soil under my feet. There is a whole other, mostly invisible, world below us. One teeming with life; so much life that there is estimated to be more living organisms in a mere handful of soil than there are people on the planet Earth.
Soil is Life; it is that simple. You are what you eat and it is what it eats. Therefore the food you eat, whether plant or animal is only as healthy as the soil it, or its food, is grown in. The end goal should be more than yield per acre it should be quality of product balanced with soil health. Soil health is much more complicated than the NPK that is posted on bags of chemical fertilizers. It is pretty short sighted to think that there are only 3 elements important to plant growth. Unfortunately that attitude tends to be common. Yes, you may get impressive yields but at what price. Soil life degrades along with soil quality. Nutrition in crops decrease as less and less nutrients are available to the plant. Insect & disease pressure increases as the plants health is compromised and they become more vulnerable to attack. With this cascade of declining health the usage of an arsenal of chemical “fixes” increases. This is not a sustainable model, especially in a time of climate change, peak oil & the incidence of chronic human health problems on the increase. Don’t misunderstand me. I do admire all farmers. Theirs is a very tough job. But I do believe that there is a much better way and it is right under our feet.
We must build soil fertility. Increase soil tilth. Return mineralization to the soil. Find a balance. A way to provide food that is healthy for humans, the plants and animals we consume for food and that does not degrade the planet. I believe it is possible and the movement is gaining momentum. There are many small farms that are working very hard to do just that. Consumers play a huge part in the success of a return to food sanity. Support the efforts of small local farms. Get to know the farms and the farmers and the practices they use, ask questions and respect the job that they do. Be willing to pay them the extra cost it takes to operate a farm in the manner it takes to produce really good quality nutritious food. Show them you believe in what they are doing and to allow those farmers to make a decent living.
“There is no alternative to fertile soil to sustain life on Earth.”
– Vandana Shiva (Soil not Oil)
I highly recommend these two books: