After reading and watching workshops of Dr. Elaine Ingham's work, it has opened up a can of worms when it comes to understanding soil. If what she is saying is true, it means everything that we thoughts every plant needs to grow, is actually already in every soil around the world, you just need the biology to make it available. This is very exciting, as not only does it explain how nature is able to grow forests and plants all over the globe, but it means we can grow our food in a way that is not only natural and chemical-free, but is more productive and cheaper for the grower and the farmer to grow crops. Dr. Ingham identifies one of the main problems with conventional products and practices is we base the science only around what nutrients and minerals a plant needs to grow, rather than how a plants receives those nutrients. The problem with this is the scientific facts become skewed and are favoured towards needing more inputs from man-made fertilisers, rather than how a plant naturally obtains its nutrients, which is good news if you create fertilisers, but bad for the environment.
A big problem with agriculture and even suburban fertilisers is, there is a large amount of run-off and leaching of those nutrients through the soil. It has been well documented about the problems that come from excess of minerals and nutrients that run into our waterways every year from fertilisers and causes big problems down stream. Nitrogen is a major component of fertiliser and can cause mass algae blooms, which suffocates the life that lives off oxygen in rivers and dams to die and has huge impacts on ecosystems. This also effects us, as algae bloom is most common in fresh water systems, where water flow becomes stagnant and is usually seen in most city river systems.
From her studies she found there is no reason to add fertilisers to feed plants, as every soil on earth has enough mineral and nutrient content to feed any plant for the next ten thousand billion years. The problem is in the soil. If we fix the soil and we don't have problems. Dr. Ingham explains that in nature, it is biology that releases nutrients and minerals to the plant in a form which it can absorb and in return the plant feeds these organisms. Conventional practices usually kill most of the micro-organisms, so how do we fix this?
What is exciting is it is so simple; you put the biology back into the soil and you no longer have the issues you get from using chemical fertilisers. And according to Dr. Ingham you can add the biology back into the soil by using worm castings (from a worm farm) and compost! And these two things, once setup, are completely free! Whhhaaaat!
This is something I found really interesting because this idea is really related to the fundamentals of Permaculture. Permaculture realises that nature is the most efficient and productive resource on earth and produces no waste. Dr. Elaine Ingham also noticed with nature and looked deeper into how is it that forests create abundance without fertilisers and realised it is the biology in the soil, not the elements and compounds.
Finding all this interesting info, it was just too compelling to not document it in a film and share with people. Its a simple solution in terms of changing how we perceive the world and realising its purpose. Soil is one of the most misunderstood and neglected parts of the natural world and this is hopefully one step in the right direction to understanding The Soil Food Web.
The next thing is to track down some people practicing these methods and find some real case studies of how it works in the real world on broad-acre farming. So stay tuned with the next update.