Soil Regeneration & Microbial Remediation
Soil regeneration is essential if our farmers are to continue producing enough food to feed us.
Soil is defined by the British Society of Soil Science as the physically altered top 1.2 m of the earth’s crust. The physical and chemical alterations of the earth’s surface at these depths are very significant, especially for the growth of plants. Chemists have spent centuries prying into the chemical components of soil, and are still some way from identifying all the molecules that make it up.
Minerals are derived from chemically and physically complicated geological deposits, created from the earth’s mantle through volcanic activity before soil formed. Mineral elements attach to the finest particles within the soil (clay – which is very cohesive and chemically versatile). They play an important role in the storage and distribution of important plant nutrients, also affecting the acidity or alkalinity of the soil.
Organic soil constituents are even more complex, consisting of breakdown products of plants mixed with substances excreted by animals and micro-organisms.
Texture is created by solid mineral parts mixing with humus, air and water to form a complex system in which the ‘whole is more than the sum of the parts’. Soil is never homogeneous.
Porosity forms through root penetration, decay and the activities of small boring animals like nematodes and pot worms. Creating the all important pores & fissures. Larger earthworm channels extend from the surface to as much as 1.5 m. depth.
Actinomycetes play major roles in the cycling of organic matter, inhibit the growth of several plant pathogens, buffer soils & fix nitrogen.
Mycorrhizae increase the surface area associated with the plant root, which allows the plant to reach nutrients and water that might not be available otherwise.
New Soil Creation by the leaching and evaporating effects of water, the biochemical actions of bacteria and other living things, plus the formation and decay of Organic Matter can take up to 500 years to develop an inch of topsoil on the surface! To accumulate enough substances to make a soil fertile can take considerably longer. For this reason soil is considered to be a non-renewable resource.
Soil is a living, hidden world that allows everything on our planet to survive and thrive. Without soil, life would not exist and with it the ability of soil to help us produce our food.
The maintenance of communities of soil organisms and their organic substrates are crucial for maintaining soils in good condition.
Instead of nurturing the soil that feeds us, modern agriculture often destroys it. Every time the soil is disturbed (ploughed/tilled), or artificial fertilisers, insecticides, herbicides and pesticides are applied, soil life is compromised and killed. This leads to soil erosion and the leaching of water and nutrients, creating anaerobic conditions. Pests and diseases then follow. The system is then dependant on these external inputs, needing ever increasing quantities. This systematically reduces farm productivity and profitability and degrades our agricultural soils to mere dirt. Soil organisms release nutrients from their substrate gradually, not in a sudden pulse as from synthetic fertilisers. When nutrients are released in a sudden pulse plants (crops) cannot uptake them quickly enough to prevent run-off, this then leads to pollution in the landscape.
It has only been in the last decade that our understanding of soils has increased exponentially. Developments in soil science offer hope for the next revolution in land management. Soil health is the solution for a new wave of productive, profitable farming that supports enormous biodiversity.
If you get your soil biology right the rest falls into place.
We offer a range of services to help you to improve your overall soil health and also cater for your specific requirements
- Soil biology analysis, health testing and interpretation.
- Holistic management planning.
- Ongoing monitoring.
Learning Tree Permaculture is a member of the Permaculture Association
The Permaculture Association works to radically and positively change the way we live in the UK and actively supports a worldwide movement.