Last week I had the privilege of being invited to a private screening of a new film called ‘Symphony of the Soil’. A whole hour and a half of people enthusing about soil – enough to send anyone to sleep I hear you say. But, no, not at all, it was fascinating and (dare I say it) potentially life changing.
I bet that if I asked all the farmers in the UK, whether they be producing milk, meat, cereals or vegetables, how much time they devoted to understanding and managing the soil upon which they farm, most would say “very little”. Yet, soil is the foundation of all our farming and food production, whether we be running livestock or growing crops.
Watching The Symphony of the Soil certainly caused me to reflect how little I understand about what goes on below the surface of our land. This vital six inch layer that we live on has been abused and exploited around the globe and our failure to understand how soils work and what is required to keep them healthy, means we are failing to harness the full potential of this valuable most resource. So reliant have we become on artificial fertilisers and pesticides to boost output, many of us have neglected the management of our soils. However, the good news is it appears we can improve our soils, wherever we are farming.
I urge anyone involved in farming and growing to watch this film. Yes, there a load of academic guys with beards from the University of California talking about protozoa and glaciers and there are a number of what appear to be ‘lifestyle’ types on their smallholdings digging vegetables. But, the underlying messages are clear – if we are to feed a growing population in a sustainable manner we need to develop a better understanding of our soils.
You can find out more about the film at www.symphonyofthesoil.com