If you've been fertilizing your lawn & garden without chemicals-- if you’re using microbial drenches (Worm Tea), compost and organic slow-release fertilizers to grow things in your yard-- then you’re part of a growing global movement to rebuild our planet’s soil. And you’re in the good company of both scientists and farmers.
Sure, farmers and scientists are making all the headlines when it comes to organic soil management these days, but homeowners like you are just as important to the health of our planet, if not more so.
In the United States, more land is planted with turf than with corn; that means what homeowners do to their lawn matters. Almost 75,000 tons of chemical fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides get dumped on American lawns annually; those chemicals are carcinogens, they also kill living creatures in your soil that our planets needs to function, and they are poisoning our watershed. So when you make the decision to stop using chemicals on your yard & garden, you’re no longer part of the problem, you’ve become part of the solution.
This past summer, both the New York Times and Politico—publications not exactly known for their stories on agricultural trends—published articles on the importance of microbes in our soil, and what is being done to rebuild our soil after decades of chemical abuse.
From the story in Politico (“Can American Soil Be Brought Back to Life?” 9/13/17): “[There] is a new trend in agriculture, one with implications from farm productivity to the environment to human health. For generations, soil has been treated almost as a backdrop — not much more than a medium for holding plants while fertilizer and herbicides help them grow.
"The result, over the years, has been poorer and drier topsoil that doesn’t hold on to nutrients or water. The impact of this degradation isn’t just on farmers, but extends to Americans’ health. Dust blowing off degraded fields leads to respiratory illness in rural areas; thousands of people are exposed to drinking water with levels of pesticides at levels that the Environmental Protection Agency has deemed to be of concern. The drinking water of more than 210 million Americans is polluted with nitrate, a key fertilizer chemical that has been linked to developmental problems in children and poses cancer risks in adults. And thanks to some modern farming techniques, soil degradation is releasing carbon—which becomes carbon dioxide, a potent greenhouse gas—instead of holding on to it. In fact, the United Nations considers soil degradation one of the central threats to human health in the coming decades for those very reasons.”
From the New York Times (“Beyond Blades of Grass,” 6/16/17): “What if, instead of seeing lawns primarily as decorative, the more uniform and manicured the better, we saw them as living ground?
“Unpaved ground is bursting with life. A teaspoon of healthy soil holds millions of species, and far more microorganisms than there are people on earth… But the chemicals we pump into our lawns kill off the upper level of these microorganisms, which then requires us to use synthetic fertilizer to do their job — some 90 million pounds of fertilizer and more than 75 million pounds of pesticides per year. In doing so we create millions of sterile acres.”
So as we wrap up another growing season, if you’ve had us apply Worm Tea to your lawn, of if you’ve used Worm Tea or Worm Compost on your garden this year, know that you’ve done something amazing...yet simple: You fed your plants the way they were fed for millions of years before synthetic chemicals came on the scene, through soil microbes. And, while sort of hard to believe, that puts you on the cutting edge of agriculture today.
If you're interested in having natural lawn treatments on your turf in 2018, get in touch-- soon! We're already signing up new customers for next year.
Steve & Corey Veldheer are organic yard & garden specialists in west Michigan.