Soil is a non-renewable resource made up of physical, chemical and biological components; when these interact, they create a dynamic and complex ecosystem. Soil retains the water and the nutrients that plants need to grow. It also sequesters carbon from the atmosphere.
The global coverage of productive soil is limited, and traditional agriculture exploits soil faster than it can regenerate. Without healthy soil, plants can’t grow properly.
Unfortunately, soil around the world faces many problems. On the one hand, there is soil degradation, which is when it doesn’t store water, organic matter, or nutrients, nor does it support the biodiversity of microorganisms that it should. There is also the serious problem of erosion, which is the displacement of the top layer of soil.
Intensive agriculture is one of the main causes of soil degradation and erosion. In this type of agriculture, large areas are planted with just one type of crop; this is known as a monoculture. Production means are over-exploited, and the ecosystems are under intense levels of stress due to the use of contaminating chemical pesticides and fertilizers.
In many parts of the Amazon rainforest, the local people practice this type of agriculture. The inhabitants of Mushullakta, unfortunately, also used to carry this out (some still do). Specifically, the farmers who are now our collaborators used to plant naranjilla. Naranjilla is most commonly planted in a monoculture scheme, and chemical pesticides and fertilizers are used in its production.
When farmland has been used like this, the soil becomes degraded and eroded, and needs to be restored. Active regeneration strategies are required, which all take time and money. Direct human actions are needed; for example, planting native trees, which will allow the soil to slowly regenerate.
Fortunately, our collaborators work hard at restoring the Amazon rainforest, through the recovery of seeds from endangered trees. Now, where they used to plant naranjillas on their farms, they plant native tree seedlings.
Apart from the necessary regeneration of worn-out soils, the best way to maintain good soil health is to avoid monocultures. But, what is the alternative?
Permaculture: a system based on conserving the ecosystems’ natural characteristics.
In this type of agriculture, the diversity of species and the land’s original characteristics are preserved; it promotes planting of a wide variety of crops. The ecosystem is kept strong, as there are many different plants working together to make the land prosper.
Our restorers now allocate a large part of their farms to forest restoration, and the rest to permaculture. In addition, they don’t use chemical pesticides or fertilizers, but make their own compost.
You can be a part of the solution to this problem. At home, you can always buy locally grown fruits and vegetables, you can create your own compost pile, and you can even plant your own mini-garden!
Apart from these actions, you can purchase one of our ecoservices, thus allowing our restorers to continue doing the important work of saving the Amazon rainforest, by clicking on this link: https://www.humansforabundance.com/restoration