In our last 101 blog we talked about the key tenets of regenerative ag which include building back healthy soil. But what does healthy soil really mean?
Prior to the rise of large-scale farms in the 18th century, farmers were largely unconcerned with the quality of soil, as it was naturally rich due to the growth and decay cycles stimulated by the presence of natural biodiversity.
The introduction of industrial farming techniques, such as mono-cropping and excessive mechanized tillage, resulted in soil that contained reduced organic matter, was severely compacted, and held little water. The degraded soils no longer supported natural biodiversity, carbon sequestration, and robust plant growth, so crops were boosted with synthetic fertilizers and pesticides, some of which left soil harming residues.
Unhealthy soil is what remained, and is still a problem today, depleted of nutrients and life, unable to sustain the growth and productivity of plants/crops through their full cycle.
Weakened plants growing in degraded soil are more susceptible to disease and insects, and climate changes continue to bolster competition from weeds. In regions experiencing the extreme effects of climate change, such as sub-Saharan Africa, growing food can be a true battle.
A booming ecosystem supports farmer success
Soil plays a vital role in the health of our planet and its organisms. The healthier the soil is, the better plants grow, in forests, gardens, and farms around the globe. In best conditions, a handful of healthy soil can contain millions of microorganisms that make soil its own booming ecosystem.
Rich soil contains a harmonious balance of pH, macro and micro-nutrients, minerals, carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, salts, nitrates, ammonium, insect life, and much more. Different regions in the world have different types of soils that together with climate, impact what can be grown. Sand, clay, minerals, salt, water, and drought are all factors.
Soil also plays a significant role in mitigating climate change, as it is the second largest carbon sink after the ocean. According to the Global Soil Organic Carbon Map published by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, the top 30 cm of soil across the globe harnesses approximately double the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.
Here at Enko, we believe in regenerative agricultural practices that protect and encourage soil health. We understand the crucial role that soil quality plays in the well-being of our planet and work to ensure that farmers can find treatments for weeds, pests, and disease, with products that stay where they are put (do not leach), work in small amounts, and are screened to be safe to humans, crops and the surrounding ecosystem, including those all-important organisms.
It’s a simple but powerful sequence: high soil quality increases crop production, the quality of the food produced, and the health of our planet.
Enko is taking action, focused on people and the planet by pioneering new plant health technology that prioritizes soil biodiversity.
We are changing the way the world grows.
More from our 101 series:
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Enko collaborate on novel crop protection.
First in a series defining commonly used concepts and phrases relating to modern agriculture.