“It changes your perspective a lot on what life means…the systems are so elaborate, it’s another universe.” Erin Wiedmer on soil conservation and healthy soil.
In this episode of EnvironMental Podcast, we spoke with Erin Wiedmer, freelance ecosystem restorer and soil conservation enthusiast.
Why is Soil Conservation Important?
Soil Conservation is important because our soil, interconnected with healthy water systems, is vital for survival on this planet.
A microorganism is bacteria, protozoa, algae, and fungi that can only be seen through a microscope. Erin told us about the lives of microorganisms in the soil – how you can see predation and how these tiny little friends are responsible for keeping our soil healthy enough for the fervent growth we expect when we think about where our food comes from.
She also told us that the difference between soil from a chemical field and soil from a regenerative field is stark and a little scary.
The microorganisms soil from a chemically fertilized field can be counted with a solution that has been diluted 10 times. It has 2-3 fungi and around 100 bacteria. Seems like a decent amount right? Wrong.
Erin says that soil from a regenerative field has so much life in it she has to dilute it more than 500 times – and she still can’t count them all! There are 75,000 bacteria and 25,000 fungi. She says it feels like she’s looking at a-whole-nother world. That means the soil from a regenerative field is super alive!
Health of our Food
Everything we consume comes from the soil. As much as bacteria, protozoa, nematodes and a fungal network might feel like another world, it isn’t. The microorganisms in the soil break down the materials in the soil into nutrients for the plants! In turn, the plants offer sugars and other minerals to the bacteria in the soil. When we replace healthy soil and organic materials with chemical fertilizers, the bacteria and fungi in the soil are less useful to the plants, so the plants stop feeding the microorganisms. After generations of this detrimental cycle, we end up with very dead, dessicated soil and plants that don’t have as much overall nutrient content. Keeping our soil healthy keeps our food healthy – we are what we eat.
Soil Conservation Impacts the Health of the World
When we deplete the health of our soil, we are squandering the health of our planet. It isn’t just humankind that depends on the soil for health – all of Earth’s systems are interconnected with the health of our soil. Why? Because our soil is what offers stability and nutrients to the growing things on our planet. When the soil is healthy, it grows a whole ecosystem that feeds a bio-diverse Earthen system. The soil offers a rich home plants, animals, insects, and fungi. It creates stability for our ecosystems and makes up a vital part of the Earth’s ability to replenish itself through decomposition.
So How Can We Conserve Soil? Regenerative Agriculture
Regenerative Agriculture is a type of farming that rebuilds soils and restores biodiversity. It includes using no fertilizers, no tilling, cover cropping, and running animals through the land – basically everything that modern agriculture isn’t. As it stands today, the agricultural industry is a serious threat to our planet.
Mono-cropping, desertification, soil erosion, and chemical pollution are putting the health of our society at risk. With a population that has now officially reached 8 billion, we can’t afford to lose more of our land if we want to feed all of the people on the planet.
Not only does regenerative agriculture offer a higher overall yield of crops, it also improves the land over time. Regenerative agriculture puts the environment first. It’s dedicated to much more than conserving the soil, it’s focused on promoting the health of the whole ecosystem.
3 Tips from Erin on How You Can Get Involved
We asked Erin how a singular person can make a big difference in the world and she had a really insightful answer. Rather than staying focused on just soil conservation or permaculture practices, Erin gave us our favorite kind of answer: a holistic one.
1 – Money talks
Be conscious about how and where you spend your money. Make an effort to become a conscious consumer, regardless of the time of year – ie. holidays and birthdays count too. Do your due diligence on the companies that you’re investing in and the sustainability of what you’re buying.
2 – Pay attention to where your energy comes from
Erin is right when she says that when you dive deep into the global sustainability issues we’re facing right now, it doesn’t take long to find the oil, gas, and chemical companies. Consider ways to divest from oil and gas, and figure out how to conserve energy in your day to day life.
3 – Vote for Soil Conservation
VOTE. The abuse of our planet has to stop. The planet doesn’t have a voice for itself and politics has to catch up with the health and safety of the people. The best way to do this is to GET OUT THERE AND VOTE! Get involved with local politics and advocacy, by connect with nonprofits like The Green Amendment.
You can connect with Erin on LinkedIn to keep up with her soil conservation efforts.