Last Monday I boarded a Boeing to come home, this Monday I boarded a Cessna. From above, I could see all the farming activity and perfectly seeded fields. Its been a busy weekend. It it is our May long weekend and tractors with farm implements jostle for space amongst cars pulling motor homes. Good time to take to the skies!
Last Sunday, it snowed and then in one day, it turned to summer. By the time I landed, it was starting to warm up and the snow was gone. The very next day, farmers went crazy, working around the clock to get their fields planted. Farmers nearby finished seeding this afternoon and took their implements home.
When we flew over the immaculate freshly planted fields, there was so much heat coming off those bare fields that it made for a very bumpy ride. I did not feel too good afterwards. But is this ok, all that heat emanating from those fields? The fields covered in vegetation did not have the same effect.
A few hours later, a major storm arrived. Yes rain! Exactly what we needed! But to my horror, I watched as soil from those carefully manicured fields was whisked away in strong winds. We need to call it what it is, soil, not dust.We have lost entire civilizations in the past due to deterioration of soil that lead to the inability to produce food. In the 1930s, the Dust Bowl caused the abandonment of some farmlands in the prairies, after a storm in addition to a drought, caused severe loss of soil. I struggle with why we still allow for loss of this much soil. Soil contains the nutrients necessary to produce nutritional food. NPK is not enough. Without nutritional food, we are just filling ourselves, not nourishing ourselves.
“Essentially, all life depends upon the soil … There can be no life
without soil & no soil without life; they have evolved together.”
— Charles E. Kellogg, USDA Yearbook of Agriculture, 1938.
The picture below was taken before I left. Soil from the neighbouring field had turned the snow brown and covers the road.
Are we choosing the right practices to farm and produce food? Afterall, there are many options available to us. It really bothers me that many agriculture training programs barely pay any attention to the soil. I guess it is no different than medical training, where doctors only receive a few hours of training in nutrition. Just as ‘let thy medicine be food,’ (Hippocrates), ‘the root of all life, including human life, is in the soil’ (John Ikerd). Without healthy soil, we cannot have healthy food, and without healthy food, we can not have healthy people.
‘The answer my friend is blowin’ in the wind, The answer is blowin’ in the wind’ (Bob Dylan). This video, made by the Global Soil Week explains the situation very well: