Turmoil In The Soil And The Human – Land Disconnect
“Agriculture plays a large part in soil degradation, especially clearing, irrigation, the spreading of chemical fertilisers and pesticides, overgrazing and even the passage of heavy farming equipment.” The productivity of our country’s (indeed, the world’s) soil is tied to abiotic factors (non-living components in the biosphere) which humans have no control of, and biotic (living biosphere components) factors which we do have some control over. These biotic factors include everything from crop rotation to pesticide and fertilizer use. Current eco-analysis shows that one third of all cultivated land is losing its arable layers faster than it can be replaced. The numbers associated with this erosion are staggering. The average rate of soil erosion in America is eight tons per acre per year. This comes to an average of 3.4 billion tons of soil being washed or blown away yearly. Translating tons of soil into inches of soil seems to produce more comforting numbers: We lose one inch of soil every twenty years. However, when you realize that it takes between 300 and 1000 years for one inch of soil to naturally form – it does not take a math genius to realize that our soil is eroding and being contaminated at an unsustainable rate.
So, not only is our land in the hands of a few powerful companies that are systematically abusing and mismanaging the soil, but the phenomena of rural flight exacerbates the problem. An April, 2009 Time Magazine article put it bluntly: “The ticktock of farm auctions and foreclosures in the heartland, punctuated by the occasional suicide, has seldom let up since the 1980s.” This rural exodus to metropolitan areas has an obvious effect on the connection of the populous majority to the land – it disintegrates. Most people in America are now so ignorant about basic appropriate soil practices that their ability to grow anything is significantly diminished.