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Soil Health: The New, Sustainable Green Revolution

The world is learning the value of improving soils and growing without chemicals.

Healthy SoilsAs organic gardeners, we’ve long known the value of maintaining healthy soil. It’s the key to successful growing and the means to avoiding the use of harmful chemical fertilizers and pesticides. Keeping our garden soil in top condition by adding plenty of compost and other organic matter, using cover crops and mulch to protect it, and doing all we can to promote healthy microbes, fungi, and other living organisms that promote the restoration of nutrients, goes a long way in ensuring successful gardening without environmental harm.

Organic gardeners know that soil is alive and must be treated as a living organism. Treating it with harmful chemicals and poisons, otherwise known as herbicides and pesticides, takes the life (and therefore the productivity) from the dirt in which our crops grow.

Ground and composted, Chicken Manure Fertilizer provides a well balanced supply of nutrients to plants. Excellent for mulching and moisture retention too! Will NOT burn and is compliant with the USDA’s National Organic Program (NOP).

Wait, some argue. How do farmers who forego the principles of healthy soil get harvestable crops year after year from the same patch of ground? Drug addiction makes an appropriate analogy. The addict who slowly poisons himself stays alive with continued use. He may be dying inside, but sticking that needle in his arm keeps him going. Likewise, injections of fertilizer and pesticides keep crops alive. But the soil they grow in, stripped of nutrients and the organisms that naturally sustain life, is dying.

This slow death is seen in the effects of erosion, the loss of soil’s ability to retain moisture, and its ability to nourish plants in a way that helps them resist pests and disease. Consider applying the principles of organic growing a sort of soil rehab.

That’s why your dirt-loving Planet Natural blogger has been heartened by the rise of interest in soil health over the last few years. More and more information about the importance of soil microbes has become available and even farmers, hooked on products from Monsanto and other chemical-agricultural companies, are turning to sustainable farming methods that not only restore soil health but save them money.

Here’s a video that demonstrates how change is coming. Farmers from North Dakota and North Carolina are shown exchanging information and learning about the use of cover crops. The significance here is the results. Even the skeptics among them see the value of planting cover crops, how it makes for better moisture retention, something so important in these times when the ebb and surge of drought is mostly surge. They learn how cover crops protect soil and prevent erosion. They discover how the use of cover crops helps shaves off the cost of fertilizer and the cost of fuel spent in applying them.

They’re also learning how cover crops protect the environment. Not only do they stop the loss of soil from wind and water erosion, they keep harmful nitrates out of water supplies and halt the spread of the pesticide poisons that not only harm wildlife, from mammals and birds (especially birds), but our own health as well. Restoring the health of our soil through organic practice may even go a long way towards dealing with climate change. Win-win situation? You bet.

New studies on the importance of soil microbes to soil health are coming in from around the world. Major universities are focusing on soil issues. Even the U.S. Congress — yes, that U.S. Congress — is beginning to take note of the importance of conserving our soil.

Organic gardeners can pat themselves on the back for long knowing the importance of soil health. And we can look forward, as studies come out and commercial farmers start turning from conventional, chemical-laden farming practice to natural ways to improve soils and crops, to new information and the better growing that will come of it. Of course, the small, local, organic farm revolution has been setting the standard for years.

We resolve, here and now, to pay close attention to the turn away from conventional, chemical-heavy farming and gardening in the coming year. And you! If you’re new to organic gardening, it’s time to get started. Those of you already involved … keep the faith!

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One Response to “Soil Health: The New, Sustainable Green Revolution”

  1. Arlene on June 28th, 2015 at 8:04 am #

    We have been mowing fall leaves and grass, piling them up after putting them through a chipper. The piles are very dry. When it after turning over flowerbeds and spreading the plants out nicely we have been using this much to keep weeds from growing. It rained heavily these past few days and to our amazement no water ran Thursday this leaf mulch. The ground was completely dry under that mulch. What are we doing wrong? Where is the water going in such a large area if not through the mulch? It is powdery and dry right under the surface. The ground was completely dry under that mulch. What are we doing wrong?