As healthy soil is essentially soil with a functioning ecosystem, to build healthy soil, we use regenerative practices to repair our soil ecosystems.

While most soils don’t show the customary signs of soil degradation – erosion and compaction, we still struggle to grow strong, pest and disease-resistant plants and nutrient-dense food. And when the weather turns bad we have trouble growing anything at all!

We need soils with functioning ecosystems to grow robust plants that yield wholesome food. Our soils haven’t been in good working order for so long that we’ve largely forgotten about the free ecological services they naturally provide.[1]

How did we get into this Predicament?

We haven’t given our soil organisms the resources to do the work for which they have had billions of years of on-the-job training!

By designing our gardens and farms to maximise plant growth for human and livestock consumption, our soil organisms have had a lousy catering service. The menu has been limited, portions small, and the service unreliable!

Photo showing how not to build healthy soil

Not much plant biomass growing here to feed soil organisms

And how do we get out…?

The solution… is straightforward. It’s eco-logical!

Using eco-logical approaches to build healthy soil, instead of relying on minerals, compost, and other organic and biological inputs, we alter how we manage our gardens and farms to rely on natural inputs. These are organic materials produced right where we need them by our plants, livestock, and other living organisms. Illustration showing how to build healthy soil

Healthy Soil Ecosystem

Soil ecosystems get their food supplies from root tissues, root exudates (sugars and proteins plants secrete from their roots), and organic waste materials deposited on the soil, which are mainly leaves, other plant tissues, animal remains, and manure.

To give our soil organisms a better diet, we grow a generous, diverse, and preferably consistent food supply for our soil organisms, as well as for ourselves and our livestock.

By growing an abundance of plants producing root exudates and recycling the wealth of plant biomass in our soil we give our soil organisms a better diet. By growing a variety of plants we create bio-diverse communities of soil organisms reducing pest and disease issues and the impacts of challenging weather conditions.

Giving soil organisms the resources to get our ecosystems functioning again, we benefit from three billion years of research and development carried out in every soil type on the planet, courtesy of Nature!


Building Healthy Soil on your Land

If you have access to mulch, minerals, compost and other organic and biological inputs, use them initially to tackle deficiencies that may otherwise hold you back. Remember, though, that the relying solely on these inputs, we limit the ability of our soil ecosystem to provide support with growing food.[2]

Concentrate on improving the food supply to your soil ecosystem. There are many different ways to do this. The trick is using regenerative practices that work well for your climate, other growing conditions and what you grow.

Recommended articles –

  1. What is Healthy Soil?
  2. Compost and Biological Fertilisers – Are they Regenerative?
  3. How to reduce Fertiliser Costs
  4. Recommended Videos – Eco-logical Techniques for Regenerating Soil
  5. How to do Regenerative Farming and Gardening – Ecologically
  6. Principles of Regenerative Farming and Gardening

Or better still, develop practical solutions for your farm or garden with these resources.

References – How to Build Healthy Soil

[1] Wendy Seabrook, 2021, What is Healthy Soil, Learning from Nature

[2] Wendy Seabrook, 2022, Compost and Biological Fertilisers – Are they Regenerative? Learning from Nature

Featured image © Wendy Seabrook  


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