How are you Celebrating Soil this Week?
I am a soil particle. I am the backbone of a farmer’s field. Together with my mineral, fungi, bacteria and soil microorganism friends we help provide nutrients for plant growth, absorb and hold rainwater for use during dryer periods, filter and buffer potential pollutants from leaving our fields, and serve as a firm foundation for agricultural activities, such as providing pasture for grazing, and rich soil for growing food crops. Famers know how to manage my friends and I to ensure we are able to provide these essential services for years to come.
Many people think we are not living organisms, but we are. We feel and see each season and everything that happens to us. We feel the warmth of cover crops and a large blanket for snow in the winter. We bathe in the spring rains and work hard to hold that rain for when our crop friends need it most. We keep seeds safe and nurture them so that they can grow roots and then produce food in the seasons to come. In the summer, we help let the water flow through us to get to the roots of the crops so they can grow big and strong. In the fall, farmers harvest their crops that we helped grow. Some of the stalks from the crops stay with us or new crops cover us so the wind doesn’t blow us away. Eventually, fall comes to an end and it snows again and we rest for another season.
But one spring, something unusual happened. We were expecting our farmer friend to come and wake us up and prepare us for the new growing season. But instead a large, cold scooper dug into us and took a bunch of us away. Eventually there was a big hole in the field. We were bare, exposed, and confused. A little while later, a big, loud machine came and poured some stuff on us – it was heavy and cold. It was so dark that we couldn’t see the blue sky. We couldn’t feel the spring rains. We waited to hold the new seeds, but they never came. Life became very dark, and we wondered what had happened to us. Eventually, we realized that a house was built on top of us. The whole field was now covered with houses and roads, and there were cables and hoses running through us. Water was piped around and through us. We lost our important jobs.
Every day, 350 acres of farmland is lost in Ontario. Much of this land has been urbanized or converted to non-agricultural uses.