Down on our family-run wasabi farm, we love soil. In fact, we can’t get enough of the stuff. So we’re more than happy to share our thoughts on World Soil Day, this December 5.
World Soil Day is organized every year by the United Nations to raise awareness of the need for healthy soil and to advocate for sustainable soil management. This year, the World Soil Day campaign focuses on stopping soil erosion and sustaining healthy ecosystems to maintain human well-being.
But what is so special about soil? How does soil affect what we grow on our farm? And how does soil really affect us humans?
What is soil?
Soil begins life as a mineral, like quartz, calcite or mica, in rock form. This mineral may come from underlying bedrock or it might be carried in a river or glacier, or even on the wind.
Over time, this parent mineral begins to disintegrate due to weathering by wind, water, heat or cold, and due to plant and animal activity around it. This disintegration eventually leads to the formation of soil, containing not only the parent mineral, but also organic matter, nitrogen, carbon dioxide, oxygen and water.
Together, these support life.
The importance of healthy soil
Healthy soil can contain several species of animals and earthworms, up to 100 species of insects, hundreds of species of fungi, and several thousand species of bacteria. These help control plant pests, recycle plant nutrients and improve the structure of the soil, so it can hold more nutrients and filter water. The soil then provides these vital ingredients to plants, helping them to grow and flourish.
Ultimately, healthy soil acts as a vital living ecosystem to sustain life, promote air and water quality, and maintain plant, animal and human health.
In turn, our fields burst with plant and animal life and we humans benefit from nutritious and good quality crops, food and water.
So what’s the problem?
Although soil is now the source of about 95% of all our food, many people don’t realize that soil is considered a finite resource – that is non-renewable. This means soil cannot be replaced over the course of one person’s lifetime. In fact, it can take up to 1,000 years to form a layer of soil just one centimetre deep.
To put things into perspective the soil we have right now is pretty much all we’ve got. But all around the world, soil is degrading and disappearing due to unsustainable use and climate change. Practices like intensive agriculture are depleting soil health. The overuse of fertilizers and pesticides as well as the employment of heavy machinery are also harmful. Meanwhile changes in temperature and rainfall due to climate change damage the organic matter and processes taking place in the soil, as well as the plants and crops growing in it.
Sadly, some 33% of the world’s soil is now degraded and there is virtually no spare land left onto which we could expand to continue to grow crops.
Why does this matter?
Because what goes in is what you get out.
The nutritional content of crops is directly related to the nutrients in the soil in which they grow and the capacity of the soil to transfer nutrients and water to the crop’s roots. Not only that, if the soil becomes degraded, it can release carbon into the atmosphere instead of storing it, worsening the greenhouse effect and impacting the climate.
So what can we do to save our soil and in turn, save our food and the world? Essentially, it comes down to more sustainable farming and soil management practices. And if we as a species were to follow these techniques, the world could produce up to 58% more food all full of the nutrients and goodness that every human should be able to enjoy.
The Wowsabi way
At Wowsabi, we build our specially-designed greenhouses where we grow our real natural wasabi. Fueled by biomass and irrigated with collected rainwater, our greenhouse aims to create optimal conditions for wasabi and preserve all of its nutrients for you to enjoy, just like the soil and land it is built on.