By Kaitlyn Ersek on Jan 12, 2023 10:00:00 AM
At Holganix, we are self-appointed soil geeks. Learning about new trends, research and theories that are happening in the field makes us tick. We bet it makes you tick too!
In this blog, we share our top 5 Favorite Plant and Soil Science TED Talks. Warning! Some of these are crazy, unique ideas that will make Holganix almost seem ordinary! Click the link to skip to the TED Talk that interests you the most. Or, continue scrolling for the full list of TED Talks.
- Humus - The Essential Ingredient
- Healthy Soil, Healthy World
- Putting Carbon Back Where It Belongs
- Stop Treating Our Soil Like Dirt
- Soil - From Dirt to Lifeline
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Humus – The Essential Ingredient
Humus is an organic material that forms when soil microbes decompose plant and animal decay.
When plants drop leaves and other material to the ground, it forms leaf litter. As animals die, the remains contribute to the litter. Over time, the litter decomposes to its most basic chemical elements. These chemical elements are important nutrients for the soil and organisms that depend on soil for life, such as plants.
After the litter decomposes, the thick brown or black substance that remains is called humus.
Humus holds nutrients and moisture and provides a great structure for plants to grow in. Some experts believe humus makes the soil more fertile, while others say humus helps prevent disease in plants.
Humus is essential for food products, but it is being gradually depleted.
In the below TEDx Talk, Graeme Sait, a lifelong soil educator explains the importance of humus. He also discusses how 467 billion tonnes of carbon has been released from the soil into the atmosphere, and how we urgently need to return that carbon to the soil to start replenishing humus.
Healthy Soil, Healthy World
If you pick up a handful of soil, you will be holding more microorganisms in your hand than the entire number of people who have ever lived on earth. Think about that for a moment. Can you imagine the number of living things in your grasp? Soil is FULL of life.
Soil microbes are nature's hidden helpers. Soil microbes form synergistic relationships with plants to convert and solubilize nutrients, protect the plant from stress and disease, and can even lead to an increase in crop yield.
There are five different types of microbes: bacteria, actinomycetes, fungi, protozoa, and nematodes. Each type has a different job to boost soil and plant health.
In the below TEDx Talk, John Crawford, sustainable agriculturist, and Professor at the University of Sydney, discusses the important role soil microbes play, and demonstrates what soil looks like from a microbe's point of view.
Putting Carbon Back Where It Belongs
Good news! Plants can quite literally change the face of the earth.
In a process known as carbon sequestration, crops photosynthesize, removing CO2 from the atmosphere and storing it. When they die, carbon continues to be stored in the soil or is released back into the atmosphere.
By growing more plants, we can capture more carbon dioxide, water, production, biodiversity, and profit. In fact, a 1% change in soil organic matter across just one-quarter of the world’s land area could sequester 300 billion tons of physical CO2.
In the below TEDx Talk, Tony Lovell, cattle ranger, regenerative agriculture expert, and founder of the SLM Australia Livestock Fund explain how growing more plants, means capturing more carbon dioxide.
Stop Treating Our Soil Like Dirt!
Our land is a limited resource and soil is its fragile skin. Soil doesn't regenerate quickly. According to The Food and Agriculture Organization, it can take hundreds to thousands of years to form a centimeter of soil. But, that single centimeter of soil can be lost in a single year due to erosion.
Soil plays a fundamental role in our lives in three key ways:
1. Filtering Water - As water seeps into the soil, it is filtered and enters our groundwater.
2. Producing Food - Soil feeds us. As our population grows, it is important to consider how farmers can look to improve long-term soil productivity in order to maximize yield.
3. Mitigating Climate Change - Due to carbon sequestration, soils have the ability to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and store that carbon in the soil. Carbon-rich soils than hold onto more water and carbohydrates feed soil microbes.
In the below TEDx Talk, Karen Wynne, farmer, and organic farm planner explain how healthy soils are critical for keeping water clean, producing food, and buffering the effects of extreme weather.
Soil – From Dirt To Lifetime
Many of us think of soil as dirt. We see soil as something to simply prop up and grow plants in. But, in reality, the soil is critical to food production.
Soil is a vibrant community of living organisms. In fact, soil scientists say there are more living organisms beneath the soil than there are above it. If it wasn't for soil functioning as a community of life, we wouldn't have food or water.
Yet, we are losing our soil at an unprecedented rate. In the last half-century, we have lost about half of our topsoil in America. And, according to the United Nations, about 25% of the world's soil is now degraded. The degradation, coupled with the fact that soil is not a renewable resource, places farmers and society in a dilemma. How can we continue to produce food, and live our lives of comfort, while also caring for the soil?
In the below TEDx Talk, Fred Kirshenmann, farmer, author, and soil advocate, discusses the importance of soil and how as a society we need to stop thinking of food as a commodity.
Using Microbials To Improve Soil Health
Holganix Bio 800+ Agriculture charges soil with over 800 species of soil microbes to improve plant performance. What does that mean for you?
That means you build soil and root health, adding the benefits of better soil structure to whatever soil type you have. This translates to improved yield on crops, better playability on golf courses, and a reduced need for fertilizers and pesticides on lawns.
Learn more about the science behind Holganix Bio 800+ Agriculture below.