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Soil Building "The nation that destroys its soil destroys itself" (Roosevelt 1937)

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Presentation on theme: "Soil Building "The nation that destroys its soil destroys itself" (Roosevelt 1937)"— Presentation transcript:

1 Soil Building "The nation that destroys its soil destroys itself" (Roosevelt 1937)

2 Outline Soil Conservation Elements of Healthy Soil Why and How We Lose Soil Building Soil Why do We Lose Soil? Steps for Building New Soil Cameron Summery

3 What is Soil Conservation? Using techniques and practices that prevent the loss of soil. Using Techniques and practices to promote the creation of new soil.i

4 What is Soil Conservation? Why is soil conservation so important? “The most meaningful indicator for the health of the land, and the long-term wealth of a nation, is whether soil is being formed or lost.” - Christine Jones Today the U.S.A.'s biggest export, in tons and dollar value, is eroding topsoil


6 Elements of Healthy Soil Minerals Air Water Living things –Plant roots –Microorganisms –Insects –Worms Organic material produced by living things

7 Elements of Healthy Soil Interactions take place between all of these elements. All elements are necessary. If any of these elements are missing then healthy soil will be destroyed.

8 Building New Soil “In order for new soil to form, it must be living. Life in the soil provides the structure for more life, and the formation of more soil.” - Christine Jones

9 Building New Soil Building new topsoil is much like building a house (Bushby 2002). –Must be comfortable for it’s occupants –Requires Roof Walls Good plumbing Airy rooms

10 Building New Soil Roof The roof of a healthy soil is the groundcover of plants and plant litter Regulates temperature Improves water infiltration (intake) Reduces evaporation Protects living organisms from ultraviolet rays (sun)

11 Building New Soil Walls The building materials for the walls are gums and polysaccharides produced by soil microbes. Sticky material glue together minerals into clumps called aggregates. The aggregates are glued together to form pods (larger clumps) These pods create spaces, the rooms of the house,. allows the soil to breath Allows faster water absorbtion Healthy topsoil should be half solid material and half space.

12 Building New Soil Rooms The walls form spacious structures that will: make it easier for plant roots to grow allow small soil invertebrates to move around. help soils retain the moisture necessary for – microbial activity –nutrient cycling and – vigorous plant growth – reduce soil erosion.

13 Why do We Lose Soil? “Unfortunately, soil structure is very fragile and soil aggregates are continually being broken down (Bushby 2001). An ongoing supply of energy in the form of carbohydrates from actively growing plant roots and decomposing plant litter is required, so that soil organisms can flourish and produce adequate amounts of the sticky secretions required to maintain the 'house’” - Christine Jones

14 Why do We Lose Soil? There are several ways soil structure can be damaged. These include: Over tilling Over use of chemicals Fertilizers Herbicides Pesticides Fungicides Overgrazing

15 Why do We Lose Soil? The breakdown of soil structure can result in the lose of nutrients, moisture content, air, and living organisms. The result is dead, dry, unprotected soil This soil is then prone to water and wind erosion

16 Steps to Building New Soil To build and maintain healthy topsoil you need: –Living soil – Perennial (year round)l ground cover. Ground cover Green manure –Periodic disturbance of the top layer. Conservation tillaing Grazing - high intensity periodically

17 Steps to Building New Soil Here is one process. 1.Seed the area with a suitable seed mix. 2.Feed livestock hay on the seeded area. They will eat some of the hay and trample the rest into the ground along with their manure, thus providing food for soil microbes. 3.Wait for plants to establish (grow) 4.Regraze periodically for short periods. Allow adequate recovery periods between grazings. 5.Monitor the results and adjust your management as needed.

18 Cameron Located in the lower Great Plains Grasses are predominant (main) vegetation Ranching is the chief (main)agricultural product (farming output)

19 Cameron Drought conditions Sandy soil being blown away

20 Summery “The building of new topsoil depends on us, and our future depends on building new topsoil. This is the greatest challenge facing modern agriculture.” - Christine Jones

21 Resources Special thanks to Christine Jones and her article How to build new topsoil

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