“Our soil teems with a multitude of organisms, which provide the necessary work for healthy plants to grow free from disease, pests and infertility. These interconnected interactions and feeding relationships (quite literally “who eats who”) help determine the types of nutrients present in soil, its depth and pH, and even the types of plants which can grow.”
– Dr. Elaine Ingham of Soil Foodweb Inc.
Soils: Healthy, fertile soil is the foundation of our food system. Fertile soil provides the nutrients that plants need to grow and become the productive, mature plants that feed us.
Soil is much more than just dirt. It’s a living ecosystem full of microscopic and larger organisms that convert decaying organic matter and minerals into nutrients that plants can take up through their roots.
Title: The Soil Builder
Location: James Ranch, Durango, CO
Featuring: Dan James of James Ranch
Dan James builds rich topsoils that retain water by using cows, chickens, and grass.
“Building topsoil increases the capillary action of the soil [and] its ability to retain water,” Dan says. “The less frequently you’re applying water, the more those roots have to go after that water as it recedes into the ground. All of the sudden, here comes your cow. She eats that grass and sheds the same amount of roots below the surface. When the roots decompose, adding organic material, you’re growing topsoil!”
Short film: "Symphony of the Soil"
Drawing from ancient knowledge and cutting edge science, Symphony of the Soil is an artistic exploration of the miraculous substance that is soil. By understanding the elaborate relationships and mutuality between soil, water, the atmosphere, plants, and animals, we come to appreciate the complex and dynamic nature of this precious resource. The film also examines our human relationship with soil, the use and misuse of soil in agriculture, deforestation and development, and the latest scientific research on soil’s key role in ameliorating the most challenging environmental issues of our time.
Filmed on four continents, featuring esteemed scientists and working farmers and ranchers, Symphony of the Soil is an intriguing presentation that highlights possibilities of healthy soil creating healthy plants creating healthy humans living on a healthy planet.
Three things you can do now
Is the soil in your garden healthy? The first step to answering this question is getting your hands dirty. It’s time to rebuild the land that feeds us.
- Get to know your soil! To begin building soil fertility, its important to understand what type of soil is in your garden. And test your soil to learn even more about the nutrient content, element profiles, and overall characteristics of your soil.
- Compost your organic waste! Composting may be the single most important supplement for your garden. And that’s just the beginning of a long list of reasons why you should compost.
- Thrive with your land! Look into different guides for cover crops. In this way, your soil will be protected from erosion and reinforced with nutrients.
How do you keep the soil in your garden healthy?
For the past three years, the Lexicon of Sustainability has sought out the foremost practitioners of sustainability in food and farming to gain their insights and experiences on this important subject. What began as a photography project to spread their knowledge has grown to include short films, study guides, traveling shows, a book, and a website where people can add their own terms to this ever-evolving lexicon. See more at www.lexiconofsustainability.com.