Soil Depletion | Why this is a Serious Issue | Dr. Weston | Sunwarrior
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Dr. Weston digs (you’ll get this later) into a topic most of us rarely think about. We’re exploring dirt today, but we’re not talking just any dirt, we mean soil. Soil is the birthplace of our food. Only 10% of the land available to us out there is actually used to make enough to feed the 6.5 billion humans who call Earth home. That little bit of dirt is also now more than 85% depleted of the minerals we need that it once had to the brim. Our soil is running on empty. That means a serving of spinach has gone from 150 mg of iron to under 5 mg and you may not even want to know how much nutrition a potato has lost. Over-farming, erosion, desertification, failure to rotate crops, fertilizers that only rely on a couple minerals, and pesticide use has rendered our food deficient. This is even before premature harvesting, shipping, sitting on shelves, and cooking rob it of more nutrition.
"Soil depletion occurs when the components which contribute to fertility are removed and not replaced, and the conditions which support soil's fertility are not maintained. This leads to poor crop yields. In agriculture, depletion can be due to excessively intense cultivation and inadequate soil management.
Soil fertility can be severely challenged when land use changes rapidly. For example, in Colonial New England, colonists made a number of decisions that depleted the soils, including: allowing herd animals to wander freely, not replenishing soils with manure, and a sequence of events that led to erosion. William Cronon wrote that "...the long-term effect was to put those soils in jeopardy. The removal of the forest, the increase in destructive floods, the soil compaction and close-cropping wrought by grazing animals, plowing--all served to increase erosion."
One of the most widespread occurrences of soil depletion as of 2008 is in tropical zones where nutrient content of soils is low. The combined effects of growing population densities, large-scale industrial logging, slash-and-burn agriculture and ranching, and other factors, have in some places depleted soils through rapid and almost total nutrient removal.
Topsoil depletion occurs when the nutrient-rich organic topsoil, which takes hundreds to thousands of years to build up under natural conditions, is eroded or depleted of its original organic material. Historically, many past civilizations' collapses can be attributed to the depletion of the topsoil. Since the beginning of agricultural production in the Great Plains of North America in the 1880s, about one-half of its topsoil has disappeared.
Depletion may occur through a variety of other effects, including overtillage (which damages soil structure), underuse of nutrient inputs which leads to mining of the soil nutrient bank, and salinization of soil."
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