Is soil the new oil?

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.

File:Dessication.JPG

Dry soil- https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Dessication.JPG

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.

File:Corn field.jpg

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.

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One thought on “Is soil the new oil?

  1. Great title – however you do not make the connection for the reader that corn is the new oil ( ethanol). This needs to be clearer. It is not really the removal of weeds that causes the three main changes that you list, rather it is the removal of organic matter, use of toxic chemicals, and lack of crop diversity. Be more clear on this. Your definition of monoculture is not complete enough – monoculture means that ONLY one crop is grown for acres upon acres – no crop diversity, which encourages pest populations exploding, resulting in the need for more pesticides. The Dust bowl resulted from tillage and leaving the land bare, exposing the soil to wind erosion, no so much monoculture. You did a good job with the paragraphs detailing what you learned from the video, BUT you don’t mention the video! Where is the video critique? YOu needed one paragraph on what you think worked and what did not.

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