End ‘violence’ against soil to protect future of food

Treating soil less violently and moving away from a ‘one-solution-fits-all’ approach to agriculture could help ensure food production can continue for future generations.

That was the message from Riverford founder and organic farmer, Guy Singh-Watson, who has released a video rant to mark World Soil Day 2018 and encourage people to care about the health of the soil.

“We’ve got 7.5 billion people on this planet, and we’re going to have 11 billion before too long. We are going to have to cultivate the soil. But we have to look after it better than we have done so it’s there for future generations as well,” he said.

Farming is inherently damaging to the soil, through ploughing that disrupts the structure and ecosystems within the soil, as well as adding artificial chemicals that kill biodiversity and beneficial bacteria.

“We turn it over, we put the bugs that like to be on the top on the bottom, we expose the stuff that’s on the bottom to the sunshine,” said Singh-Watson. “We drive over it with 10-tonne tractors and squeeze the life out of it. The way we treat the soil is a violent act.”

Moving to a more ecological way of farming, with more diversity and mixed farming systems, adding organic matter such as compost to the soil, and using perennial crops that don’t require re-cultivating every year, will all help soils recover, he added.

“We’ve got to get away from a one-solution-fits-all approach to agriculture,” he said. “We’ve got to get a lot smarter and not just plough because we can, or apply pesticides because we can, and take a more ecological approach to looking after our soils. We’ve got to look after these soils, or they’re not going to produce anything at all.”

World Soil Day is an annual awareness event coordinated by the global organisation Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and participated in by people and organisations all over the world through events, and on social media under the hashtag #worldsoilday and #stopsoilpollution.

Watch the full video on facebook.

4 responses to “End ‘violence’ against soil to protect future of food

  1. Love your outlook…recommend the novel “Prodigal Summer” by Barbara Kingsolver. It illustrates the struggle between those working with and those working against nature in farming….and life.

    Still loving your produce…built an earthbag studio and now on to my next sustainable building…a pallet cabin….Sustainable for Life!

  2. I love this post. I doubt many people have considered the soil, beyond it being poisoned by pesticides maybe, so it’s been illuminating.

  3. Marvellous stuff…your remarks and the soil itself. We live next to a ‘hay field’ that has been mowed 6 times this year. Nothing except a hybrid type grass grows in it and the soil is exhausted. No flowers, herbs, bees, or other wildlife.

  4. Absolutely. Probably the most fertile soil around will soon be in cemeteries. A pet rant of mine is that even in death we are not always allowed to feed the soil. Too many mausoleums, lead lined coffins, embalming and the like prevent the organic body from performing it’s function of returning to nature in order to feed the soil. Battlefields used to be the most fertile soil around, due to the blood and bodies buried within.
    We are hygeinically killing ourselves.

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