Topsoil

I hate it when we have erosion in our fields.  I try to make sure that doesn’t happen, but it’s hard to avoid entirely.  A summer downpour is hard on a freshly tilled field.

Agriculturally-caused topsoil loss is a very serious problem these days.  I’ve just finished reading Mark Shepard’s Restoration Agriculture and he makes a convincing case for perennial food crops rather than annuals, in large part to protect and preserve topsoil. He correctly says that anywhere annual crops are grown, it’s easy to find eroded and degraded land.

A few days ago I took advantage of a pleasant afternoon to go fishing.  While waiting for a bite that never happened, I noticed the hillside along the creek that feeds the pond.

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Nature carved that ditch, over many hundreds or thousands of years.  But notice how nature also healed it. There are trees on the hillside, and where it’s too steep there is moss.  No matter how hard it rains now, that hillside is not going to erode.

It’s common these days to hear people say things like “We’re destroying the planet.”  The reality, it seems to me, is that no matter what we do, the planet will be fine.  It’s humanity we’re in danger of destroying, not the planet.

If as a result of unsustainable agricultural practices we deplete all the topsoil, we may starve.  But meanwhile nature will just patiently go about the multi-thousand year task of making new topsoil.

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