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Matters of the heart & soil

In celebration of World Soil Day we’re digging down and getting to grips with all things dirt. Organic soil is pretty incredible, so why are some walking all over it?

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It all begins with soil, and we reckon it’s pretty cool stuff. Unsurprising when a tablespoon of it has more micro-organisms than people on earth (we weren’t kidding about it being cool). All this and it grows our food. Pretty special, eh? (So it’d be a good idea for us to look after it.) Soil can take thousands of years to form, being made up of minerals, rock particles, organic matter, air, water and living things, so it’s little wonder that the folks at Pollybell Farm in the East Midlands take their soilvery seriously. Rotating their crops is just one thing they do to ensure there’s good soil for the future. And while crop rotation isn’t anything new (it’s been around for centuries), it’s alarming to see that it’s not the done thing outside of organic farms.

“A tablespoon has more micro-organisms than the population of earth”

Where conventional, intensive agriculture uses artificial fertilisers, which causes soi erosion, contamination and chemical run-off into water systems, organic farming is all about working in tune with nature to prevent erosion and encourage soil fertility. “Rotation promotes a balanced environment in which to grow and organic farms overcome low levels of soil disease by having an increased level of fungal and earthworm activity,” says Peter, resident soil scientist at Veg HQ.

And what does this mean for us veg lovers? Well, it’s easy to see how the healthier the soil is, the healthier and more nutrient-rich our food will be. When there’s more organic matter in the soil there are more nutrients for us and these are all delivered to crops in the soil; things like potassium, calcium, iron and copper (plus loads more). Here’s a 20/20 vision for the future of our soil. The Soil Association is doing its bit to increase organic matter in our soils by 20% over the next 20 years, which will mean healthier, more nutrient-rich soil for everyone. You’re already helping the cause, supporting organic farming (thank you!). So, let’s look after the soil and the soil will look after us.

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