Saturday, September 6, 2008

National Geographic Publishes Story “Our Good Earth – The Future Rests on the Soil beneath Our Feet”

Guest Post by Steve Chick, Nebraska State Conservationist

When National Geographic publishes a story on the value of soil quality then I begin to have hope that soil may finally begin to get its due respect. The story is really about the dire situation of abuse of soil around the world, but it certainly does not exempt the United States. It credited our transition to heavier and heavier equipment as a key culprit for soil compaction. It describes harvesters weighing 15 tons on tires as tall as men that use satellites to navigate themselves. It said, “Midwestern topsoil, some of the finest cropland in the world, is made up of loose, heterogeneous clumps with plenty of air pockets between them. Big, heavy harvesters mash wet soil into an undifferentiated slab—a process called compaction.”

The story cited Ohio State University soil scientist Rattan Lal and other “researchers and ordinary farmers around the world are finding that even devastated soils can be restored. “Political stability, environmental quality, hunger, and poverty all have the same root,” Lal says. “In the long run, the solution to each is restoring the most basic of all resources, the soil.”

We are all familiar with the statement that the best offense is a strong defense. I think Lal would agree with my argument that the foundation of strong country begins with a commitment to a healthy soil.

Reprinted with permission by Steve Chick.

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