One of the first steps that was taken down the wrong path was the discovery of these three macro-nutrients that have the power to either inhibit by their lack or encourage by their presence different types of growth in plants. The religion of science got a “booster shot” in the arm when folks solved the equation needed to mimic health. It would be decades before some essential micro-nutrients would be “discovered” and by that time, too many had been convinced of the top priority of N, nitrogen; P, phosphorus; and K, potassium. these chemicals never were the end all and be all of soil health.
As with many unreasonable expectations we hold for science, when we bump up against limits, or overestimate what science has learned, it can cripple our ability to get an accurate understanding of the world around us. In the case of N,P & K,their discovery derailed any chance of getting a true picture of what was going on under our very feet, in the soil! The methods developed for boosting the macro-nutrients actually damaged countless organisms whose presence created harmony amongst whole colonies of soil building biota. About the same time, chemical annihilation of organisms also helped to sterilize the vast acreages known collectively as the bread basket of our continent. By the time voices of those that understood the change that had taken place were allowed to surface, it was far too late to stop the degradation.
Now that many prove daily the efficacy of building soil health, creating harmony amongst biota again and reaping the monetary benefits of working smarter, not harder, the change back to pre-industrial revolution thinking may just yet catch on! The same old school technocrats are in power though and what is needed is a complete abandonment of their dualistic approach. The way science is designed, there are precious few ways to practice in an integrative fashion. Dissection and the inevitable search for the “magic bullet” are virtually unavoidable. Understanding a matrix relies on the fact that only one or two factors can be seen in relationship, not many, not dozens and certainly not thousands of factors that are normally in play in the natural world. If we X, then Y thinking is not able to admit that the rest of the alphabet even exists.
This is why I feel no compulsion to “prove” that the trees our not-for-profit has planted are making a difference. The birds, worms, cool air in summer and warmer air around the trees in winter are proof enough. I’m sure that there are colonies of at least several dozen micro-organisms in the soils now that were not there when we planted. We brought some of them in on the roots of the plants. Some are there because the birds came to sit on the young branches of the trees we planted. Anyone who has watched birds closely knows that they often lighten their load before flight.
Watching the train wreck that has been agriculture for the last 100 years breaks the heart of casual observers. Knowing the level of disinformation that still exists on farms and in the field makes me sick. Frequently, those who “care” for our nation’s soils are some of the least competent to be doing so and those who give them advice stand to gain far more when bad choices are made than when good ones are. Do you think any seed dealer will explain that only one variety of potato, planted over tens of thousands of square miles will almost guarantee the need for chemical approaches to pest control? Will any government agent or feed dealer tell you that giving an entire herd of cattle anti-biotics for a few sick animals will degrade the health of the well ones? Will they tell you that even micro doses of such compounds negatively affect the length of time it takes to render the animal waste useable for fertilizer? Will the timetables that are recommended for planting and harvest supersede good sense and awareness of micro-climate and individual soil conditions? How can we change the direction of such a massive powerhouse, receiving billions in corporate welfare each year? Think on it and let me know, what you think.