World Soil Day 2020
Natural Resources Coordinator Joanna Woodruff shares 5 tips for healthy soil
Today is World Soil Day! Soil is the foundation of all life, providing us with our most essential needs, including water filtration, food, and the literal foundation to build our homes and livelihoods. Soil supports a vast diversity of organisms—all crucial to supporting various roles in our ecosystem.
What is soil, anyway? It is a mixture of decayed organic material, minerals, rock particles, air, and water. It’s a living organism. Soil is one of the many natural resources we need to tread very carefully on—no pun intended. According to the Soil Health Institute, “Our soils support 95 percent of all food production, and by 2060, our soils will be asked to give us as much food as we have consumed in the last 500 years.” That is a big ask of our soil over the next 40 years. The bottom line is that we need to do everything possible in our lifetime to sustain the soil for future generations to come.
So, what can you do on your property or in your own garden that can make a difference?
Tips for Healthy Soil
Anytime you plant a diversity of native plants, different microorganisms will subsist, making the soil diverse and rich.
Test Your Soil
Knowing the nutrients available, or not available, in your soil will help determine application rates for future soil additives and help diagnose soil issues. Click here to contact Hamilton County Soil & Water Conservation District for your soil test.
Plant Cover Crop
Consider planting a cover crop in your garden during the offseason when you do not have anything growing. Cover crops like clover, rye, and oats are a good start. These will help keep the soil in place and give off the nutrients needed for your future crops.
Help prevent soil erosion by using mulch. This is especially important during dry weather to help hold soil moisture in place around plants.
Consider starting a compost, feeding it with your own table scraps from the dinner table. Composting is easy to do and can have excellent benefits to the soil. Click here to learn more.
Soil is often a misunderstood topic for many people and it’s one that should be at the forefront of everyone’s mind. We benefit from the soil each day. The Living Soil Film from the Soil Health Institute is a great video for gaining a better understanding of soil health, benefits of the soil, and correcting the public perception of soil health. The video visits various types of farms across the United States and gathers the farmers’ understanding of soil health and ultimately how it impacts their yields.
As most of us know, soil health is vital for a healthy ecosystem, but something you may not know is that soil also benefits human health. Recent studies have shed light on the advantages that healthy soil has on our bodies. In fact, there is a book that focuses on the benefits of soil on children. The Dirt Cure, by Dr. Maya Shetreat-Klein, offers suggestions on how not only eating fresh food grown in healthy soil is a good thing, but exposure to the germs and microbes found in soil can be just as beneficial to the body. In her book, she points out that there is a specific microorganism found in soil that improves serotonin levels, helping to fight depression.
Science has also recently taken a turn from modern medicine by introducing things like environmental medicine, Nature Rx, and ideas such as grounding or earthing (which is literally putting your bare feet on the ground, connecting to the earth). The idea behind this is that standing or sitting on the bare ground outside will allow Earth’s electrons to transfer into the body. Health benefits of earthing or grounding include a reduction in inflammation and pain, support of organ systems, and better sleep.
All these ideas and scientifically proven approaches shed some light on the need for one thing in common- connection to our earth. On World Soil Day, take a moment to remind yourself of all that the soil provides. Become a kid again. Take your shoes off, put your feet in the soil, and take in all the benefits the soil provides.