The soil food web is comprised of the species of organisms in our soil that create an environment free from disease, pests or fertility problems. For Dr. Elaine Ingham, the result is healthy plants and a safer environment for us to live in. In parts of the world where human impact has been massive and un-remitting, especially in the case of over-reliance on petrochemical-based pesticides and fertilizers, we are losing many needed and necessary species of micro-organisms, putting our soil’s health at great risk. The food we grow needs to contain balanced nutrition not only for humans, but also for the animals we care about and the life that sustains us.
OSU’s Plant Protection Center
28 January 2011
Our soil teems with a multitude of organisms which provide the necessary work for healthy plants to grow free from disease, pests and infertility. These interconnected interactions and feeding relationships (quite literally “who eats who”) help determine the types of nutrients present in soil, its depth and pH, and even the types of plants which can grow.
Any biological material applied to the soil which enhances metabolic or physiological processes and aids in plant growth and development.
A liquid solution obtained by steeping compost in water. It is used as a fertilizer to help prevent plant diseases.
A community of organisms and their by-products which live at the surface of desert soils. Principle components are cyanobacteria, green algae, microfungi, mosses, liverworts and lichens.
DR. ELAINE INGHAM BELIEVES GETTING A HEALTHY FOOD WEB BACK INTO OUR DIRT WILL STOP POISONING US AND TURN THIS SICK WORLD AROUND. Our use of toxic chemicals to grow food has greatly imperiled our soil, rivers, lakes, streams, and oceans. In many areas of the world, our impact has been massive and un-remitting, resulting in the loss of many organisms we don’t even know exist (we’ve only identified 10% of the bacterial and fungal species on the planet). Can nature teach us how to grow enough food to feed an abundance of life sustainably, without killing everything in a field simply to grow a single crop? she asks.
ELAINE’S NOTE TO FARMERS: Making a more vibrant soil food web begins with making good compost. Properly converted organic wastes are worth their weight in platinum.
Dr. Elaine Ingham is the Founder, President and Director of Research of Soil Foodweb, Inc. She holds a Doctorate in Microbiology with an emphasis in soil. In 2011, she was named the Rodale Institute’s chief scientist.