Published on October 16th, 2013 | by Jeff McIntire-Strasburg1
Healthy Soil: a Human Right? #BAD13
It turns out that this year’s Blog Action Day takes place on World Food Day. As the goal of the latter focuses on ending hunger, it seemed like a natural tie-in with this year’s topic for the former: human rights. After all, no one can take advantage of basic rights like “equal justice, equal opportunity, [and] equal dignity without discrimination” if they’re hungry.
Advocates of various agricultural practices love to bring hunger into the equation when they’re arguing (one of the reasons I’ve decided to largely stay out of such debates), but those promoting organic agriculture as well as more conventional approaches have come together on one major issue: soil health. Whether organic, ecological, industrial, etc., healthy soil is a critical component of successful farming. As such, soil health strikes me as a human right itself – again, we have to eat in order to take advantage of social and political rights.
Since I’m not a soil scientist, I decided to go out and find some good stories about creating and maintaining soil health. Take a look at the posts and articles below, and then share your own stories about those working towards building up healthy soil (and, by extension, increasing crop yields).
The concept of adding biochar to soil has been around for thousands of years, and for good reason: it works! Additionally, biochar use also sequesters some carbon. Take a look at Rachel Schulman’s post on this ancient technology.
While a focus on soil health stems from organic agricultural practices, conventional farmers have caught on: Changemakers profiles Iowa farmer Clay Mitchell, who has added a range of soil conservation practices to his farming, including no-till methods and precision fertilization. These tactics have helped make Mitchell Farm one of the most profitable in the area.
Want to build up your own garden soil? Hugelkultur is a permacultural technique that’s taking off in the US after building a solid fan base in Eastern Europe. Mother Nature Network shares an overview of this practice.
Can you put a price on healthy soil? Sure, but make sure to take into account all of the value it creates: it does more than just provide the proper environment for growing food. Katherine Rowland has a very thorough post on economic services soil provides over at Triple Pundit.
How do earthworms contribute to soil health? Glenn Meyers lays out the many, many good things that worms do to keep our soil in tip-top shape.