Published by Chris Ellery at Soil Foodweb Institute, Soil Rehab Specialists since 1986
What Do We Mean By Soil Health?
Soil health is defined by its ability to perform essential ecosystem functions such as: nutrient cycling, water filtration, and habitat provision for plants and animals. Some properties that determine soil health include texture, depth, density, water infiltration and holding capacity, amount of organic matter, nutrient holding capacity (CEC) and respiration. Every one of these properties is influenced by the mass of microbes and larger soil-dwelling organisms studied by Soil Foodweb. When the health of this biology is disturbed by sudden changes to the ecosystem (e.g., over-tilling or application of any fungi/herb/pesticide chemical), soil health is drastically affected. When such practices become the normal management regime, soil becomes cyclically dependent upon amendments because its ability to perform these processes through biology is continually impaired. The biological approach to soil reestablishes soil biology to rebuild the desired properties that bring soil back to good, natural health.
Re-mediate Soil/Convert to Organic Agriculture
Soil degradation as a product of man-made pollution is a serious environmental threat facing our planet. Soil Foodweb is dedicated to revitalizing soils by rebuilding the biology that keeps it healthy. Whether a soil is heavily polluted by industrial toxins or simply depleted from overuse of chemical pesticides and fertilizers, the biological approach is the healthiest way to restore the environment to a natural state.
Supplement Biology Lost to Pesticide, Herbicide and Fungicide Application
Crops suffering from massive infestation can be equated to a human suffering from cancer. It is necessary to get rid of the problem but the mechanism for doing so kills the good biology as well as the bad. It is important to replace the good biology after the harmful entity has been removed. Farmers who use chemical products to prevent problems before they occur are wasting resources and harming their soil unnecessarily. Soil Food Web recommends the use of biology as the preventative measure to discourage unwanted pests and disease. Pesticides, herbicides and fungicides should only be used when there is clearly an infestation. The biological approach should then be used to restore biology after pesti/herbi/fungicides are used.
Enhance Chemical Application Efficiency & Reduce Production Costs
The biological approach to soil is still an important practice for those who use chemical fertilizers and intensive tilling. As described above, the addition of biology prevents loss of added nutrients, reducing the amount of chemical fertilizers needed each year. Movement of the biology in the soil also improves texture, reducing the need to till soil and the fuel costs related to that process.
*Ref. From an email sent by Christopher Ellery, Soil Foodweb Institute, 1 Crawford Road, Lismore 2480, Australia