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Down and Dirty

The Role of Soil in our Environment

Thursday, February 09, 2012
Since man has inhabited the earth the soil has been the medium in which to grow and produce food for himself and his animals.

Soils vary in fertility from country to country and region to region and it is well documented that healthy, fertile soils produce the most nutrient dense foods leading to a healthy immune system and healthy animals with high productivity and reproduction.

Australia has one of the oldest soils on earth with inherent acidity problems and regions of low fertility with only very small areas being used to produce our foods.  It is absolutely imperative that we care for this small amount of productive soils we still have left.

If we are to continue to till these soils consideration must be given to the type of fertiliser inputs and the impact they have on the soil, both chemically, physically and biologically.  It takes all three of these components to have a healthy, fertile soil while prime consideration must be given to enhancing the biological component, an area that has been disregarded in favour of soluble fertilisers.

The over emphasis on the N, P, K, approach has raised these levels, regrettably to the detriment of our soil structure, (excess Nitrogen burning out our organic carbon) and at the expense of the quality of water in the river systems.   The soil has not been regarded as a living breathing system responsible for the recycling and storing of nutrients, but merely a medium in which to stand a plant and feed it soluble fertilisers.

Biological agriculture takes into consideration the overall mineral balance required to grow healthy plants as well as the role of soil biota in improving soil structure and reducing disease, weeds and pests.  If our past practices had been a solution to our low soil fertility we would not have the problems with our river systems, disease, insects and pests and weeds that we have today.

It is now time that a balanced approach is used as a management tool to address the problems rather then hide behind short term fixes that then compound into greater problems.

Fortunately there are total biological programs available to balance the soil with fertilisers that will not harm our environment but build soil fertility, and produce the highest quality food possible. Biological farming is based on sound scientific principles and works to create fertile soils, which in turn create strong and healthy plants, animals and humans.

It combines the best of conventional and organic farming with an emphasis on attaining naturally productive soils that display a high level of biological activity.

The main purpose is to maximise the activity of soil micro-organisms through the provision of good soil nutrition and structure, together with adequate supplies of energy, air and water.

It is an environmentally responsible farming method which is becoming increasingly accepted by farmers worldwide who want to ensure the long-term productivity of their land, while growing better crops and reaping the profits.

Biological agriculture provides a unique approach to sustainable and profitable agriculture production through the use of biological farming techniques.

Farmers become inspired to face the challenges of contemporary farm management and face the future confidently knowing they have the answers to soil fertility and long term sustainability.

A definition of soil fertility that is inclusive of environmentally responsible land use considers the three components of soil fertility:  biological, physical and chemical activity.

Skilful biological/organic farmers have learnt how to solve their underlying (nutritional) problems and thus have reduced or removed their need to use costly inputs, especially agro-chemicals; these often only assist farmers in suppressing recurring symptoms of a sick farming system (e.g. disease, weeds, pests)  

‘Whatever you see that needs to be corrected you start taking care of it ’ Jim Rohn.  This certainly takes into account Australian Soils.