Ok, lets keep this simple!
This video is ~6 minutes long and will tell you everything you need to know about why the soil is so important to our health. In a nutshell, when the soil food web is damaged more chemical fertilisers, pesticides & herbicides are needed compounding the problem and effecting our health in many ways.
The Soil Food Web - For the Readers
We all know about the food chain, the animal kingdom on top of which is us humans. If we look abit closer we will see that animals don't only eat one thing, just like us humans so the reality is more like a web than a chain. There happens to be a food web in the soil too. This is the living part of the soil made up of earthworms, insects and much smaller microscopic creatures such as fungi and bacteria.
Dr Elaine Ingham has pioneered research into the microorganisms in the soil for the past 40 years and with research scientists to understand how they interact with each other and plants.
The soil food web can be thought of as the soil biome, just as humans have a gut biome responsible for digesting our foods. So too, the soil has a biome which breaks down organic matter and releases nutrients in plant available form. this is how nature has been feeding plants for billions of years.
The major groups that make up the soil food web are bacteria, fungi, protozoa and nematodes. When in balance these different groups interact with each other and with plants to create abundant ecosystems such as the great forests of the world.
HAVE YOU EVER WONDERED HOW THE GREAT FORESTS OF THE WORLD CAN BE SO ABUNDANT WITHOUT THE NEED FOR FERTILISERS? The answer lies in soil biology.
With a healthy biome, the soil can provide plants with the nutrients they need, among other amazing benefits such as protection against pests, diseases, drought and flooding.
Unfortunately, we humans have disturbed the soil food web in virtually all of the soil we manage, causing it to become unbalanced. As a result the plants we grow struggle.
Ploughing is the major cause of the problem as it destroys the larger microorganisms such as fungi and protozoa, leaving the soil food web out of balance. This results in a system breakdown. Nutrients are no longer made available to the plants, and protection from diseases is compromised.
Before the industrial revolution, humans would plow using oxen or a bull, which provided around 3 or 4 horsepower. Modern tractors can yield 400 horsepower or more. So far more damage is done to the soil biome by modern machinery. The use of chemicals has compounded the problem.
The good news is that we can restore the soil food web to most soils within just a few months. This results in a number of benefits, both for farmers and for the environment. With a balanced Soil Food Web in place, farmers need not use fertilisers at all! They don't need to use pesticides either. As the soil food web protects plants from attack. Herbicides used to kill weeds are not required either, as weeds only thrive in conditions where the food web is out of balance.
Restoring the Soil Food Web means a reduction in money and chemical inputs across the board. It also means that yields could increase dramatically.