When you think of a world beneath your feet, you’re probably thinking of Will Ferrell’s mosquito bite in Land of The Lost.
But what if I told you the secret sauce which will save us the trouble of rising ocean tides is below your feet right now. And it’s not Chaka.
Our “savior” is a portion of the planet that receives little press but covers, oh, the entire surface of Earth.
It’s the soil.
And it’s impact on reversing climate disaster and avoiding radical weather is amazing.
Dr. Elaine Ingham, a soil ecologist who has dedicated her life to saving the world by saving it’s soil explains this process. She calls her approach “With-Nature gardening.” A Form of growing food that has tremendous impact for reversing climate disaster.
You see when a plant grows, the entire plant releases a substance known to the egghead biologists as “Exudates.”
To make this a little more fun, let’s call it chemical EX.
As the plant grows, the entire surface of it releases chemical EX. Chem EX is a peculiar mixture of ingredients.
Simple sugars, protein and carbohydrates.
Remind you of anything?
As Dr. Ingham says, Chem EX is the same mixture your little sister uses to make her cookies and cake.
As soon as Chem EX is produced, it rains off the plant’s surface, saturating the soil.
Now why would a plant drop cookies and cake all over the soil? Well to have a party of course!
Chem EX is the food which attracts the perfect mixture of vital fungi and bacteria which keeps this plant alive and growing strong.
Plants are smart, instead of using all their nutrients for a quick but short lived growth burst, They use some of their nutrients to foster a collection of vital microorganisms. Which create a micro-economy producing a sustainable inflow of Phosphorus, Copper, Zinc, Iron, Calcium, Nitrogen and all the good stuff these plants needs to stay alive and well.
All these cookies attract quite a crowd, Dr. Ingham explains, in just one teaspoon of soil, there at a million million Bacteria.
Which of course attracts a motley crew of nematodes and protozoa. Who gobble up the bacteria and fart out all those vital nutrients we talked about earlier. Helping the plant produce a high yield and a strong immune system.
But how does this relate to climate change?
Well let’s break it down real simple. MC Excel style.
In the red corner we have Chemically Induced “Soil-Toxicity” from pesticide use (which includes organic pesticides) and in the green corner we have the With-Nature gardening approach.
Let’s see who wins:
Chemically Induced “Soil-Toxicity”
- Farmers have to manually buy, mix and add nutrients to keep plant yield up.
- You have to reapply nutrients after they leach through the soil during rainfall.
- Complex math and remembering of equations turn mixing nutrients into a physics class.
- Constant manual irrigation and aeration of the soil. Compounding the costs of everything.
- Nutrients are made by the bacteria in the soil.
- Bacteria and fungi bind nutrients in a living micro web of predator/prey organisms.It makes nutrients non-leachable. They stay in the soil.
- The plant auto adjusts its nutrient ratio using the secretion of “Exudates” according to its needs.
- Microbes restructure the soil providing air passageways and soil cavities. Making the plant into a complete sustainable system.
But the big problem with pesticide use and toxic farming is much more sinister. Chemically induced “Soil-Toxicity” literally saps and kills the life in the plant’s soil.
Naturally plants grow stronger and stronger. Their immune systems ripen overtime and their yield increases if things go according to Nature’s plan.
But when we use chemicals to kill the microbes in the soil. The gardener becomes addicted to the rat-maze of applying chemicals, and fertilizers to keep yield up and plants producing. In the face of their dying ecosystem.
Over time as the soil gets worse, their plants need more external help to maintain their yield. So farmers have to buy more and more soil killing chemicals. Until, the fateful day when the soil no longer can produce. And it becomes desert.
This whole thing is like a cigarette addiction for gardening. Leaving a barren waste in its wake.
So this is bad, and what is worse is that Carbon actually leaves the soil in this process. The soils of the world have lost up to 80 billion tons of carbon and land misuse accounts for 30 percent of carbon emissions worldwide.
“Damn Garrett why’d you drop that bomb on us?”
Because we can fix it. And awareness is the first step.
We humans are always looking for ways to make a living, save the world, and otherwise feel worthy. But gawd damn it if the planet could speak right now she would be like “CHILL! I got this just get out of the damn way!”
Plant’s have beaten us to solar power by about a couple billion years. And if you dive into the science of that one, you’re going to be busy for a while. Photosynthesis is a rabbit hole science is still trying to explain.
Natures R&D department also pumped out “the first carbon trading scheme” last eon or so. Which is the entire process we have been talking about today.
Earth knows what it is doing, we just have to get out of it’s way. Which might take a major pivot for most of us.
First we need a mix of bacteria and fungi to dissolve the lingering toxicity in the soil.
Second we need a mix of bacteria and fungi to tie up nutrients so they don’t leach out of the soil.
And third these bacteria and fungi need to be eaten by nematodes, protozoa and other predatory microbes to release a steady stream of nutrients for the plant.
It really is that simple. And for the first 3 billion years things were going pretty good.
The planet needs more Climate Superhero’s. People who are willing to step up to the plate and make a change. Is that is you? Maybe you are in a uni program you don’t like. A job that’s got you beat. Or maybe your parents just pushed you on a path you’re not down with.
It does not matter, the first dragon you need to slay is yourself.
If we inspired just 50 of you, readers, to get your hands dirty growing and glowing your way to sustainable farming. This article did its job.