The Soil

We need to learn to heal the land, replace the diversity of our food ecosystems. 

Mother nature she can take us or leave us
We told her we loved her
She did not believe us
We have got this “planet running a fever”
She tried to warn us but we did not believe her
                                                Aboriginal knowledge


So much of our carbon issues is due to loss of top soil. In Australia over 50% of top soil lost since the late 1700s

Plants are the bridge between the atmospheric CO2 and that of the soil, and all growers – gardeners, crofters, farmers – are part of the future ways to capture carbon, feeding ourselves, feeding our livestock, building strength in diversity. Plants feed the soil, along with the livestock management.

On a small land scale we can do so much more to improve the soil here. And this has begun. 

Planting trees creates stability, builds the mycorrhizal fungi networks beneath the paddocks that allows the minerals to be released to the plant species. 

Grazing management changes how plants grow. One option is to move stock daily, in high concentrations on small areas, with electric fencing. There are great results happening to soils this way, but its not always possible to achieve. Keeping livestock moving can be done in other ways, we have increased the numbers of paddocks here. This frequent movement also helps to break the worm and fluke cycles. 

Increasing the nutritional levels of our soils can be done using materials we have or can buy in : rockdust is a crushed mineral rich granite from the North east of Scotland (our local granite has been recognised as mineral poor even back in the early days of agricultural improvements several centuries ago) .. it has the magic number of 42 ! micro nutrients to add to the soils. 
If you can get coffee, composts, manure, these are good to spread on the land to particularly add nitrogen. 
If you have a wood burning fire, then woodash is a powerful resource of potash .. this should be very sparingly used as a lot of wood goes into creating small amounts of ash. 

Using gaps in hedgerow can be used to plant species we want to add to the grazing pasture. Flowers can seed and infiltrate the pasture diversity.  
Encouraging more plants in the pasture is key – even “weeds” as they often have deep tap roots that can bring minerals from deep down to the surface in their plant material that is then trodden down and becomes available to the microbes and the surface species. 

A microscope can be a really useful way to learn more about soil microbes. A fascinating study to understand the ways of millions of organisms working so hard on our behalf. Youtube is a great way to learn how to recognise the species and what they do for us.