The Bad News About Our Soil and What it Means for Us
Economy is a more complicated version of our survival process. Simple survival means to eat, sleep, reproduce and die one day. This has been made super-complicated now. I am not against it, but people think economy is today's concern and ecology is tomorrow's concern. This idea has to change.
Ecology is today’s problem and today’s concern. Our life is wonderful not because of the fluctuations of the stock market or the percentage of growth points happening in a particular society or nation. Our life is wonderful because we are eating nutritious food, drinking clean water and breathing pure air. This has been completely forgotten.
Today, the food we eat is full of chemicals. The water we drink is full of poison. And of course, the air is also poisoned. I believe the air will be purified in the next ten to fifteen years because of technology. There is a whole movement happening in that direction. But soil and water are the big problem.
Soil is where life evolves. You and I are just a little bit of soil. What was soil became food. What was food became flesh and blood. If we don’t get that right now, we will get it one day when we are buried. Most people get it a bit too late but everybody gets the point at some point!
Unfortunately, soil is something that most people ignore in terms of ecology. The damage we have caused to the soil on the planet is tremendous. Other things, like the ice melting somewhere, may be visible, but the damage we have caused to soil is most dangerous.
The nourishment levels in the vegetables and crops that we are growing in India have dropped by about thirty percent in the last twenty-five years. This is why, whatever they eat, people are not growing to their full size.
Doctors are saying that if you do not eat meat, you will not get enough nourishment. In a way, they are not totally off. The vegetarian diet has lost nourishment simply because of the way it is grown. They are just pumping up plants with something so that it only looks like food. It is not food. It is trash that they are selling to you. This is happening because the soil quality has come down dramatically.
You cannot keep soil rich with just fertilizer and a tractor. You need animals on the land. Right from ancient times when we grew crops, we only took the crop alone. The rest of the plant and animal waste always went back into the soil.
Today, we are taking everything out and not putting anything back. We think just by throwing a little bit of fertilizer, things will happen. This is why the quality of the food and its nourishment value is coming down dramatically.
Our ability to grow food itself is going away because we are turning the land into a desert. We are turning soil into sand because there is no organic material anymore – there are no leaves or animal waste.
The Real Danger of Fertilizers
About forty years ago, when I was into farming, fertilizer companies were coming and giving talks in villages about the virtues of fertilizer and what it can do. I just couldn’t wrap my head around what they were saying.
In a temperate climate, fertilizer that you put into the soil will stay for up to nine to twelve years. But in a tropical climate, it will not stay for more than three to four months. We got this idea from somewhere that we can grow food in some way other than the organic way. It is kind of unbelievable.
Is there some way to grow food other than the organic way? There simply isn't. The only way you can preserve soil is by having animal waste and vegetable waste go back into the soil. This is the only way you can save the land in the long-term.
Fix the Soil, Fix Everything
If we take concrete action in the next five to ten years, then in the next twenty-five to thirty years, we could turn the soil around quite reasonably. But if we wait and take action after fifty years, it will take hundred to hundred-and-fifty years to turn the soil around. That means four to five generations will go through terrible states of life because the soil is in a bad condition.
If we fix the soil, the water is fixed, air is fixed and everything is fixed. Soil must be rich and on because this body is the same sod. The greatest legacy we can leave for our children is an environment of rich soil and water. Only in preserving the quality of the soil, the quality of the planet and life will endure.
Editor’s Note: Isha Agro Movement aims to support and assist the farmers of Tamil Nadu to re-establish the ecological balance of their lands combining agro-forestry and organic farming techniques. Find out more about their efforts.