Why You Should Care About Soil Health
When most people think of conscientious farm practices, they often think of organic-like practices – pesticide and fertilizer usage, animal welfare, natural genetics. They also think of environmental impacts -sustainable energy, methane emissions, reforestation. While these are all worthwhile goals, an overlooked factor of consciousness farming is soil health. Healthy soil both leads to healthier foods and could hold a significant key combatting global warming.
Consumers and brands are currently both largely sleeping on soil, but it’s a topic that’s rising in popularity. In the near future, brands that maintain good soil practices could be positioned to be at the forefront of the next big trend.
The first and most obvious benefit of having healthy soil is growing healthy food. Anyone who’s ever read to the bottom of a NUTRITION FACTS label, or taken a multivitamin knows the importance of certain minerals and organic molecules in our daily diets.
These compounds mostly originate in farm soil. As a crop draws up water to grow, it also pulls in the minerals and organics of the soil around it. What many people don’t know, though, is that the original presence of these compounds is the direct result of the living nature of the soil surrounding the plant. Soil is teeming with life. Every cubic inch of soil contains billions of microorganisms.
These bacteria and small animals help the soil stay rich with vitamins and minerals – replenishing compounds consumed by the plants and recycling natural fertilizers in the field. When these microorganisms are depleted or overworked, either by over-farming the land or the use of destructive chemicals, the health of the soil suffers. The crops, in turn, have fewer vitamins and minerals to absorb, and the harvested food becomes less healthy.
If, however, soil is properly cared for and protected, the food it grows can be much healthier, and often, better tasting.
Healthy soil can also protect the environment. The concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is currently 412 parts per million (ppm) and rising fast. This increase continues to contribute to global warming and has been linked to a rise in some weather-based natural disasters.
Most attempts to stem global warming focus on reducing our emissions, but carbon sequestration could contribute immensely. Carbon sequestration is the process of capturing and storing carbon dioxide molecules that are already circulating in the atmosphere. Some concepts and prototypes feature machines that clean the air in this way, but what many people don’t know is that soil is already doing it for us.
Because carbon is so essential to organic compounds found in microbial ecosystems, soil has the ability to absorb carbon from the atmosphere. The more organic matter and living things in the soil, the more carbon it can hold. Therefore, the more microorganisms in the soil, the better it is at cleaning our air.
Healthy soil isn’t just healthy for us. It’s healthy for our entire planet.
Both consumers and food producers are starting to become more and more aware of the importance of healthy soil. And it’s a trend we’re expecting to rise even more.
Cutting edge companies like Trace Genomics are currently mapping the composition and health of soil with unprecedented accuracy. It won’t be long before the data accrued from this new science reaches actionable potential for both brands and consumers. Want to be at the forefront of health and sustainability in 2 years? Be at the forefront of soil.
Already have soil sensors you need integrated into the rest of your system? Shoot us a message and let’s talk about added value you could gain on each of your products.