Archive for the ‘Soil Wednesday’ Category

Understanding soil quality: Part 5

Posted on: November 12th, 2014 by Katlyn Rumbold No Comments

Last week we discussed the harmful effects of unhealthy soil and what that could mean to us as human beings. And the findings were quite frightening.

So this week we will discuss our only hope for a healthy world as noted by an eminent French scientist and Nobel Prize winner Dr. Alexis Carrel. He published a book nearly 102 years ago titled Man the Unknown, which discusses that since soil is the basis for all human life, our only hope for a healthy world rests on re-establishing the harmony in the soil.

Dr. Alexis Carrel

Dr. Alexis Carrel

Today soils are tired, overworked, depleted, sick, and poisoned by synthetic chemicals. Hence the quality of food has suffered and so has health. Malnutrition begins with the soil. Buoyant human health depends on wholesome food, and this can only come from fertile and productive soils. Minerals in the soil, said Carrel, control the metabolism of cells in plant, animal, and man. Chiefly destroying the harmony reigning among mineral substances present in small amounts of air, water, food, but most importantly in soil, creates diseases.

If soil is deficient in trace elements, food and water will be equally deficient.

Carrel found that chemical fertilizers can’t restore soil fertility. They do not work on the soil but are enforcedly absorbed by plants, poisoning both plant and soil. Only organic humus makes for life.

Plants are great intermediaries by which the elements in rocks, converted by microorganisms into humus, can be made available to animal and man to be built into flesh, bone, and blood. Chemical fertilizers, on the contrary, can neither add to the humus content of soil nor replace it. They destroy its physical properties, and therefore its life. When chemical fertilizers are put into the soil they dissolve and seek natural combination with minerals already present. New combinations glut or overload the plant causing it to become unbalanced. Others remain in the soil; many in the forms of poisons.

Plants, said Carrel, that are chemically fertilized may look lush, but lush growth produces watery tissues, which become more susceptible to disease; and the protein quality suffers. Chemical fertilizers, said Carrel, by increasing the abundance of crops without repaving all the elements exhausted from the soil, have contributed to changing the nutritive value of our cereals.

Please note as this is our last installment in this particular series, we realize some of these stories began years ago, but we feel they still have a lot of value when looking at soil quality as it affects the circle of life. What other questions do you have regarding soil quality?

Until next time, happy trails!

Understanding soil quality: Part 4

Posted on: November 5th, 2014 by Katlyn Rumbold 1 Comment

To date we’ve learned that healthy soil leads to healthy vegetation, healthy animals, and healthy people.

But what if the soil isn’t healthy? How would that effect us, the animals, the vegetation?

Well, we’re about to find out. Nearly half a century ago, a man by the name of Andre Voisin authored a book “Soil, Grass & Cancer” which showed that soil fertility was directly linked to human and animal disease. He had already grasped the importance of the subterranean world and saw the hidden danger in oversimplified fertilization practices and the use of toxic chemicals.

Andre Voisin

It all started when Andre found that grass made it possible to obtain a ‘biochemical photograph’ of the soil when he was working with the Academy of Agriculture of France. He was then able to see that the mineral elements of the soil control cell metabolism in the animal and consequently in people too. It was found that the ‘dusts’ of the soil likewise control the proper functioning of the cells in man.

What must never be forgotten is that diseases are created chiefly by destruction of the harmony existing between the soil elements. The great tragedy of modern techniques is the complete disruption of this harmony by new cultural methods. It is up to us the farmers, the agronomists, the researchers, the scientists to figure out how to reestablish the harmony in the soil.

With that said, Andre writes (in his book):

“Increasing human population and the enormous pressure being exerted by organized masses of city-dwellers on powerless agricultural communities are gradually reducing the agricultural population which is forced constantly to increase its output, producing more food more cheaply, without any thought for its biological values. This result can be achieved only by the use of ever-greater quantities of mineral chemical fertilizers. It is impossible to go back, and it would be undesirable, as has been shown above by the many examples of the beneficial effect that fertilizer dressings can exert on the plant and on the animal. The fertilizer, however, must be applied judiciously which is not at present. Today, indeed, three times as much of all the elements in the soil is being removed, but generally only four, or at the most seven, of these elements are being replaced.”

The consequences of applying large quantities of nitrogenous fertilizers are serious, but when one works with the soil to produce healthy crops, that is when the highest yields could be reached.

Join us next week as we discuss our only hope for a healthy world as noted by eminent French scientist and Nobel Prize winner Dr. Alexis Carrel.

Until next time, happy trails!

Understanding soil quality: Part 3

Posted on: October 29th, 2014 by Katlyn Rumbold No Comments

So far we’ve learned that healthy soil leads to healthy animals and healthy people.

But how is that related to various forms of native vegetation?

Well, the former chairman of the soils department at the University of Missouri, Dr. Albrecht, studied just that and correlated that information with the conductivity of the soil for radio reception as mapped by the National Broadcasting Company.

His basic thesis was that higher rainfall patterns in the eastern and southeastern United States have leeched out the native soil fertility elements. Therefore, even though there is ample water in the eastern states, there are not enough of the necessary fertility salts for either good radio reception or for production of protein rich crops. He explained that the low protein crops such as virgin pine trees grow naturally in these areas. In the arid west the fertility salts are ample in the soil, but the moisture is deficient for ideal electrodynamic behavior which gives both good radio reception and higher protein and mineral content for crops.

Understanding Soil Quality

Rainfall and temperature determine the degree of soil development. A moderate rainfall pattern results in development of a soil that is good for production. Higher rainfall area soils are weathered to a greater extent and therefore not as adequate for protein production. The higher rainfall areas are capable of growing more vegetative bulk which also means more decay. With decay, more carbonic acid is formed and the resulting acidity replaces the soil’s natural calcium and magnesium.

Moderate rainfall patterns in the west, and higher rainfall but more moderate temperature in the northwest, form soil clays with a greater capacity to hold or absorb nutrients. Soils formed in the eastern states under higher rainfall patterns and the increasing temperature going from the north to the south means a different clay is formed. These clays have fewer nutrient holding capacity. This explains why coniferous forests grow here, because there is little protein potential in these areas.

It is clear that Dr. Albrecht was correct, and as farmers seek to increase yields it is possible to get a combination of carbohydrates and proteins, or only carbohydrates. Dr. Albrecht tied his explanation to climate, natural soil development, and native habits of buffalo and other animals. Many scientists have now concluded that farmers, through poor soil management, have depleted the nutrients from even the most productive soil areas. In other words, commercial farming as we have known it for the past several decades has greatly accelerated nature’s natural processes.

Next week, we’ll discuss what Andre Voisin, of the Academy of Agriculture of France, noticed when understanding soil quality.

Until next time, happy trails!

Understanding soil quality: Part 2

Posted on: October 22nd, 2014 by Katlyn Rumbold No Comments

Last week we discussed how quality soil effected both the physical and mental health of the Hunzakuts who resided near the Himalayan peaks in Pakistan.

This week we continue discussing quality soil, but this time how it effects sheep. It all began over 300 years ago in a town in Leominster when Izaak Walton observed differences in health, in wool quality, in the sheen of body color, and in the quality of muscle meat.

He noted, “It is certain that fields in Leominster are observed to make sheep that graze upon them more fat than the next, and also bear finer wool; that is to say, in that year in which they feed in a particular pasture, they shall yield finer wool than they did that year before they came to feed upon it, and coarser again if they shall return to their former pasture; and again return to a finer wool being fed on the finer wool ground. Which I tell you, that you may better believe that I am certain, if I catch a trout in one meadow he shall be white and faint, and very likely be lousy; and as certainly as if I catch a trout in the next meadow, he shall be strong, red, lusty, and much better meat. Trust me, I have caught many a trout in a particular meadow, that the very shape and enameled color of him was made such as hath joyed me to look on him; and I have then with much pleasure concluded with Solomon, ‘Everything is beautiful in its season.’”

In short he noticed a difference in the presence or absence of insect infestations of sheep and of fish related to the fertility of soil.

Join us next week as we discuss nutrition as it relates to various forms of native vegetation.

Until next time, happy trails!

Understanding soil quality: Part 1

Posted on: October 15th, 2014 by Katlyn Rumbold 1 Comment

Being born into a farm family and now dating a farmer, I’ve heard a LOT of farm talk. Like a LOT. Sometimes I can’t get a word in otherwise unless my sentence contains the words corn, soybeans, commodity prices, cattle, hay, alfalfa, and soil.

I can’t tell you how many times the topic of soil health has come up. Hey, what else is a girl to talk about while spending hours upon hours in the combine? The soil is the basis of our profits and we consider ourselves blessed to have the opportunity to farm some of the most fertile ground in all of the United States.

But fertile soil can only produce so much. Dave Larson used to say the quality of fertile soil should be determined by the resulting crop’s spectrum of nutrient balance, nutrient density, storability (quality produce will dehydrate; not rot), and absence of toxic substances.

He also said quality can be measured by long term health of animal or person consuming the produce, the rate of gain or production of animals eating produce, length of the productive life of animal or person, and amount of produce that must be consumed daily to provide adequate nutrition.

With that said, Larson had researched several case studies to not only help us better understand soil quality and how that affects our food, but you too!

Soil Wednesday

So today I present the ‘Hunza Story.’ It begins with a distinguished Scotch physician, Robert McCarrison, who was head of the Nutritional Research Agency for the Imperial Government of India.

“He did a comparative study of the dietary practices of people from various regions of India. Rats were fed diets of the various regions. Those that ate the diet of the Sikhs increased their body weight much faster and were healthier than those ingesting the diet of the neighboring Bengalis.

Even more extraordinary, when his rats were fed the same diet as that of the Hunzas, a diet limited to grain, vegetables, fruits, and unpasteurized goats’ milk and butter, the rodents appeared to McCarrison to be the healthiest ever raised in his laboratory. They grew rapidly, never seemed to be ill, and had healthy offspring. Autopsies showed nothing whatsoever wrong with their organs. Throughout their lifetimes these rats were gentle, affectionate, and playful.

Other rats contracted precisely the diseases of the people whose diets they were fed, and even seemed to adopt certain of the humans’ nastier behavioral characteristics. Illnesses revealed at autopsy filled a whole page. All parts of the rats’ bodies-skin, hair, blood, ovaries, and womb, and all their systems respiratory, urinary, digestive, nervous, and cardiovascular were afflicted. Many of the rats, snarling and vicious, had to be kept apart if they were not to tear each other to bits.

Hunza is located in a narrow valley surrounded by snowcapped Himalayan peaks in Pakistan. The valley is dotted with small stone farmhouses, filled with terraced fields, and split by glacial streams which water and fertilize the fields.

Visitors have written in great detail about the extraordinary health of the Hunzakuts. There is practically no plant or animal disease, and virtually none in humans: absolutely no cancer, no heart or intestinal trouble; and the people regularly live to be centenarians, singing and dancing. Visitors tell of seeing no cripples. Wounds are said to heal with remarkable speed, seldom becoming infected if rubbed with the local soil, rich in minerals. Hunza women are so healthy they need no assistance in delivering a child whom they breast feed for two to three years, deliberately spacing their children so as to wean them one at a time. Children are invariably reported as growing up healthy, with none of the normal childhood diseases such as mumps, measles, and chicken pox. The girls’ complexions are depicted as without acne or blemish, attributable in part to the application of oil of apricot seed. Nor is there any evidence of juvenile delinquency; visitors remark that one never hears a mother scold or bribe a child. Treated as integral members of society, trusted and given responsibility, the children are described as growing up healthy emotionally as well as physically.

The secret of the Hunza health is their soil. It is a combination of silt produced from the glaciers grinding mountain rock and organic compost. This combination provides plants, animals, and humans with every element they need for life.

Every possible milky grey stream from a glacier is channeled to a field. In the winter, the channels are cleaned and the silt is spread on the field to give a fresh layer of soil.

All vegetable parts and pieces that will not serve as food for man or animal are returned to the soil in the form of compost. Animal manure and seasoned human waste are also used in this compost.

The Hunzakuts also drink the pearly grey mineral rich glacial water. An American, John A. Tobe, who determined that the minerals were in the colloidal state, first scientifically analyzed water. These particles, approximately 1/100,000th to 1/10,000,000th of a centimeter across, carry an electric charge — usually negative. This enables the human body membranes to directly absorb essential mineral elements.”

Please note this is the first segment of a 5-part series talking about soil quality. Next week we will discuss Izaak Walton’s observations in soil quality and sheep.

Until next time, happy trails!