World Soil Day takes place on 5th December every year and is an important day for flower lovers, landscapers and farmers alike. It also offers the perfect excuse to get your hands dirty.
Why Life Green Group digs soil:
“The roots of all goodness lie in the soil of appreciation for goodness.” - Dalai Lama
The future of mankind lies within the layers of the Earth. Over the decades, the quality of the soil has decreased, but it needs to be preserved for many reasons. As well as being vital for food production, did you know that soil can help to mitigate climate change, ensure clean groundwater and prevent biodiversity loss.
Life Green Group gets to the root of the following seven problems you may be having with soil.
Soil erosion and loss of topsoil
Over the last 150 years, almost half of the Earth’s topsoil has been lost through erosion. In a natural setting, soil can maintain itself but, as a result of uneducated gardening habits and poor crop management, soil erosion is now a problem worldwide, and gardeners often have to buy topsoil to counter its effects.
Topsoil is often washed away by rain following periods of drought or in areas that don’t have plants to bind the soil together. It is the outermost layer of soil and is where plants grow their roots. Topsoil is also vital for holding moisture and is home to 90% of soil microbes.
Life Green Group’s solution to soil erosion
Never leave soil naked! Mulching and sweeping dead leaves into flowerbeds are ways to help prevent soil erosion. In the summer when the storms arrive in parts of South Africa, make sure your beds are planted with a living mulch because roots bind the soil. Training walls and elevated beds also help to prevent soil erosion.
A lack of soil biodiversity
Bugs and microbes all form part of the intricate soil food web, and 90% of all soil-dwelling organisms live in the top 10% of soil. Critters, such as the earthworm, are vital for healthy, happy soil.
A gardener can damage the top layer of soil by over-fertilising with chemical fertilisers, compacting the soil, and tilling. Tilling is particularly bad as it wrenches microbes to the surface where they are exposed to the sun.
Life Green Group’s solution to soil biodiversity
To promote soil biodiversity, stop using gardening forks and be sure to use organic fertilisers. It’s also advisable to purchase a worm farm for a corporate or domestic garden if you are trying to be environmentally friendly. By also having a proper compost heap, you can feed the soil microbes and encourage greater soil biodiversity.
Atomic waste, fracking and the mass use of chemical fertilisers all damage soil quality. In the context of South Africa and its water restrictions, many companies and homes are turning to grey water systems. However, too much grey water is actually bad for the soil.
Life Green Group’s solution to soil contamination this World Soil Day
Grey water is fantastic and should be used. However, to prevent soil contamination, Life Green Group encourages clients to only apply grey water to a garden if the organisation uses biodegradable, environmentally-friendly cleaning products. By applying xeriscaping techniques, there is also less need to resort to desperate watering measures, which means less chance of soil contamination.
Loss of nutrients in the soil
Powerful chemical fertilisers and a lack of crop rotation deplete the soil of nutrients. Just like humans, soil continuously needs to be fed. Plants take nutrients out of the soil, and if those nutrients are not replaced then the soil suffers.
Life Green Group’s solution to soil nutrients
Bokashi, Bokashi, Bokashi! This Japanese technology is an effective way of turning all the nutrients from unwanted food waste into food for the soil. Not only does it cut waste removal costs, but it also significantly reduces a household’s carbon footprint and greenhouse gas emissions.
Acidification of the soil
Acidification is a concentration of hydrogen ions in the soil, which is caused over time by poor soil management. Ammonium-based fertilisers and acid rain are major contributors to soil acidification.
Life Green Group’s solution to soil acidification
Well, stop using ammonium-based fertilisers.
Carbon in the soil
New Science shows that the increasing levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere are causing soil microbes to release even more CO2, thus adding to the effects of climate change.
Life Green Group’s solution to carbon in the soil this World Soil Day
Cut carbon emissions in your garden by using Bokashi systems, worm farms and recycling methods.
As cities continue to develop, large patches of soil are being sealed by concrete, which prevents any light, rain or gas exchange from taking place between the atmosphere and the soil. This means that nothing grows. It also affects the urban water runoff, which increases chances of flooding in urban areas when it rains.
Life Green Group’s solution to soil sealing
Use planter blocks or porous paving to ensure water can be absorbed into the ground. Set up effective gardening levels and be sure to have proper drainage systems in place.
The moral of the story this World Soil Day is that soil is the Earth’s skin, and it needs to by nourished and protected by us all.