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  • Writer's pictureCathy Sachs

Is it just dirt?

Updated: 2 days ago





When you think of soil, do you just picture “dirt”? As in “a child playing in the dirt”?   Or do you see the complexity of a living organism? Soil is the foundation of the ecosystems of our fields, and a critical natural resource for current and future generations.


On its website the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service states:

Soil is not an inert growing medium – it is a living and life-giving natural resource. It is teaming with billions of bacteria, fungi, and other microbes that are the foundation of an elegant symbiotic ecosystem.


By understanding the biology of our soil, we can seek to make the improvements needed to increase its health, which in turn will benefit the plants and crops grown in our fields.  At this time of year, we fertilize the fields to address any deficiencies which have been determined (for example Nitrogen, Magnesium etc.) from prior testing of soil and plant tissue. 


Soil samples are collected at different times of the year, and sent for analysis by a local lab. Special kits can also measure the Microbial Biomass of our soils, composts, teas and extracts. In addition to these scientific measures, there is the old adage: “Listen to what the plant tells you.”


To learn about composting and soil health, in March Fred and David attended  the 173rd workshop offered by MidwestBioSystems.  They came back eager to begin using the time proven methods developed by the Blosser family.


There are many sites to reference for more information, for example www.4thesoil.org, an initiative of the Virginia Soil Health Coalition and the Virginia Cooperative Extension which seeks to raise awareness of soil as a critical natural resource.  So, not just “dirt”.


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