Beefs and Beliefs
eroded farm soil Alan Newport
Erosion removes soil and soil biology, while tillage kills soil biology. Repairing that requires a change of management.

This experiment jump started bad soil with good

The key lesson from this research is soil biology is critical to productivity.

In my blog last week I said that the flush of "biological" additives on their way to market aren't going to cure our ails.

I need to reiterate why I said this before I continue: If we don't change the management that tore down our ecosystems, then any additive we use only helps for a brief time, like chemical fertilizers, and then it becomes just another perpetual expense.

Put another way, if you want to become more resilient and profitable you should first change your management as I described last week, then decide whether biological agents and fertilizers and additives like agricultural lime might speed the process.

Along those lines, you may also recall I noted recently that Wendy Taheri at Terra Nimbus is working on some products to help restart the right kinds of arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF) species in tilled farm ground, which commonly is almost devoid of AMF.

Similarly, just a few days back I read about a project in which researchers put soil from relatively healthy grassland and a heathland, which is a blend of grass and brush species, onto old farm ground as an inoculant. They then measured large improvements in recovery of the inoculated land.

Over a period of six years, the grassland inoculant of topsoil pushed the old farm ground more toward grassland. The heathland inoculant of topsoil pushed the tired farm ground more toward heathland.

The greater response from these treatments came when the old topsoil was removed and replaced with the grassland or heathland soil with higher biota.

Whereas the researchers talked about this idea as a viable treatment for repairing damaged land, it seems to me the damage to healthy land is a big downside, as would be the financial cost.

The real value, as I see it, is that productive soil springs from diverse and teeming soil life.

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