Soil – connecting land, people and food

Developing connection with the soil can improve soil management and conservation and also integration and function in the food system. Soil connection is shown by physical contact and by comparison with the human psyche. Physical connection with the soil is commonly by sight, feel or smell such as when assessing the structural quality of the soil with a spade or from a soil profile.

Soil structural quality influences crop yield and quality and tillage and nutrient inputs. Structure can be described and scored by using the Visual Evaluation of Soil Structure (VESS) which employs a spade test for the topsoil and a profile test for the subsoil. The soil is scored based on how hard it is to break up, the size and shape of aggregates, the amount and size of pores, the distribution and appearance of roots, the smell and colour.

Connection by comparison with the human psyche helps the development within us of soil-like properties such as integration, networking and recycling. These can bring awareness of changes in food consumption and in lifestyle required for the success of agroecological approaches to feed us. For a brighter future, we not only need to conserve our soil, we need to become more like it.


Theme: crop diversity
Published: 28th January 2016
Author: Bruce Ball