Save our soil (and our planet) with the Soil Association

September 7, 2018 6:18 am Published by 1 Comment

There’s virtually nothing more important on earth than the earth – the top two inches of it, that is. We might not pay too much attention to it, but soil is the basic support mechanism for our crops, our trees, our wildlife and our farm animals. Without good, healthy soil, we cannot live good, healthy lives. Soil is the reason the Soil Association is called the Soil Association. And it’s the reason why they – and we, at Naturally Good Food – are such firm advocates for a system of farming and eating that promotes the health of the soil, rather than depleting it.

Lady Eve Balfour, a founder of the Soil Association, remarked: ‘The health of soil, plant, animal and man is one and indivisable’. As the Association points out, our soil holds the water and nutrients we need for life – and 95% of the food we eat comes from it.

The Soil Association want us to give the health of our soils the same kind of attention we give to air pollution and water pollution. They quote a statistic showing that 40% of all soils in the world are now ‘seriously degraded’. According to the Association, it’s time to give soil quite a bit more thought. Time to get our hands dirty – and to make our soil, and crops, clean.

We need healthy soil

Human life depends on the soil. Healthy soil is full of organic matter (decomposing plant and animal residues, cells and tissues of organisms, and substances synthesized by these organisms). It has good structure – it’s able to hold water and retain nutrients. It stores carbon effectively, rather than releasing it back into the atmosphere. And it’s wonderfully fertile, allowing crops, plants and trees to grow to their fullest potential, rich in nutrients for the humans and animals that rely on them.

How do we achieve healthy, living, fertile soil? Well, the Soil Association have a simple answer: we need to farm our soil organically.

Keeping the soil clean

Organic farming doesn’t use synthetic or petroleum-based pesticides or fertilisers. The contamination of the soil – and the water, where such substances run off into waterways– is thus significantly reduced, with the soil remaining clean. The natural organisms are protected, rather than destroyed by ‘scorched-earth’ pesticides.

Keeping our soil fertile

Organic farmers use crop rotation to build fertility in the soil, as well as to break (naturally) cycles of pests and disease. Monoculture reduces fertility, as does the overuse of pesticides and other chemicals.

Keeping our planet healthy

Healthy soils draw carbon into them, acting as a carbon sink. According to the Soil Association, organic soil contains three times as much carbon as the atmosphere and five times as much as forests. The Association reckons that if all UK farming converted to the organic system, at least 1.3 million extra tonnes of carbon would be taken up by the soil each year.

Healthy soils also store water, slowing the effects of drought and serving as a vital defence in times of flood.

Get your hands dirty: how you can help

The Soil Association has five pointers on how to ‘save our soil’ in our everyday life. They’re useful tips for anyone with a garden, an allotment – or even a farm – of their own, showing us how to bring back health and fertility to this vital natural resource.

But even those of us who haven’t got our own plot of land can play a vital part: by buying organic wherever possible.

Organic food in this country is regulated by the Soil Association. It’s grown under strict organic conditions, in which the quality, fertility and cleanliness of the soil is of paramount importance. The food that emerges from organic farming is packed with vitamins and minerals (and tastes wonderful!). It’s genuinely ‘clean’ food, from clean soil.

Naturally Good Food is one of the UK’s leading online retailers of organic food. We’re licensed by the Soil Association to pack our own-brand NGF organic products. We’ve got organic nuts, organic seeds, organic dried fruit, organic grains, organic pulses, organic oils, organic herbs and spices – and everything else we can find! Just like the Soil Association, we want to save our soils, save our planet – and save our own good health, too.

Click here to see all our organic range. And, in this very special month – Organic September – watch out for our other blogs on the organic theme.

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This post was written by Yzanne

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