This beautiful TED Talk by Allan Savory, biologist and ecologist, highlights the importance of rebuilding native soil, particularly in areas where desertification already has begun. The irony of the story is that holistic land management and animal husbandry provide the strategic cornerstone to rejuvenating the grasslands of the world.
The lesson for those in G3 is: Protect and nurture your O.W.L. (Oxygen, Water, and Life), because Living Soil is the KEY FACTOR in environmental health in general and specifically for the health of your landscape and the health of your waterways.
Recently our Managing Member, Pamela Berstler, spoke in a meeting of Water Conservation Managers noting the paramount importance of educating about soil health in water conservation and pollution prevention. Pamela argued that building a healthy, biologically active Soil Sponge was the MOST IMPORTANT ACTIVITY in healthy landscape building and that this truth applied to all manner of land use from agriculture to urban/suburban residential and commercial, parklands, and even “natural” watershed areas that we would consider wildlands. Pamela also reasoned that all soil is degraded (especially biologically speaking) and that intervention, remediation, and ACTION was required to rebuild our soils, particularly as it applies to garden-building, even when using plants that are considered native or have become perfectly adapted to the climate and place over thousands of years.
There was push-back from the audience. One attendee proposed that plant selection and placement was the most important factor for education and that selecting and planting native plants in native soil was THE simple and compelling solution for restoring watersheds and producing healthy, low resource gardens (including water conserving, of course). The reasoning was that native plants don’t need soils with organic matter in them, and so long as the microclimate conditions supported the plant selection, no soil amendment was necessary.