A Conversation about Soil
Elaine Ingham, Founder, Soil Foodweb Inc.
I work with landscape architects on all things soil-related.
The grass in the photo put down roots of 3.5 ft in a 3 month period. If roots are not that deep – it shows there is a problem with the soil.
The deeper the roots, the less we need to worry about drought.
When animals graze, plants release exudates which are secreted by the roots system and are beneficial to soil health.
We need predators to return the bacteria back to the plant via grazing.
There are 42 essential nutrients and we need a balance of these. The problem with fertiliser is that it concentrates on only one nutrient.
We need to spread grazing time-wise. Too soon and the nutrients are lost again, then the root system will slough off. In dry periods the plant will die.
In the photo of grass from the golf course, the grass is continually mown and has created anaerobic conditions. A compost tea was applied and then the roots grow even with daily cutting.
Soil compaction is a big problem – see photo. Water cannot move through the compacted layer. Roots are not meant to go sideways – they are meant to go down.
In the photo of the compost pile, there is a white layer. This indicates a lack of air and signals that the compost needs turning.
Soil biology is being destroyed by human management.
‘Cheat grass’ – if animals eat this they will die. It has the shortest roots – see the photo.
Soil chemists are backed by big business and they encourage people to use fertilisers.
There should be no reason to put additional nutrients on the soil.
Soil vs Dirt – If you put fertiliser on your plants and your plants grow; it shows it was dirt and not soil!
Finding the correct fungi to bacteria ratio is also essential – see the photos.
I have been working with Laverstoke Park here in England on their soil health.