At this point, we all know that conventional farming is bad. It’s resource-consuming, with conventional corn production using more pesticides and herbicides than any other crop. It is extremely damaging to the ecosystem, specifically to the ecosystem of the soil. When weeds and other life are eliminated from the soil, three major changes occur.
1. The soil is no longer able to retain water. Although there may be plenty of rain, the weakened soil’s ability to hold water is greatly reduced. It increases flooding and damage because the soil is no longer able to retain water. This results in lesser crop yields and difficulty replenishing the soil.
2. The lack of biological activity in the soil reduces the amount of nitrogen-fixing bacteria. Because the soil is no longer an ideal environment, lacking plant life, the bacteria are not able to build the symbiotic relationship and are no longer able to fix nitrogen. This results in a nitrogen deficiency in the soil, which is one of the main problems facing agriculture today.
3. Monoculture (having the same crop in the same field every year) also reduces the diversity and health of the soil. It is known as the cause of the dust bowl, because monoculture stripped the soil of essential nutrients. This is because the soil has no time to regenerate its nutrients and it eventually just dies.
Corn monoculture- https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Corn_field.jpg
Soil is a valuable resource that we are losing quickly because of conventional farming. If we plan to convert to ethanol, which is an imperfect solution, large amounts of soil will be required, and we will eventually be facing a shortage in the nutrients necessary to produce this fuel. Soil also is the basis for all of our food. It is essential that we mind the soil to ensure our survival.