Rattan Lal: Soil Is Like a Bank Account


Soil is like a bank account. In a bank account
you cannot withdraw more than what you put in it. You must balance the bank account very
carefully and always if you want your bank account to increase the input must exceed
the output. Soil is the same way. Anything that we take out of soil, thats nitrates and phosphates, potassium,
nutrients, whatever we take out, we must replace them. If you do not replace, and thats an example
of taking for granted ,If you do not replace soil will not produce. Not only harder to produce, but it will deplete
the natural reserves of nutrients. For example, soil organic matter, or soil
carbon, is the reserve of nutrients in the soil. When you do not replace what you harvest,
either in grains or animal products, then the organic matter content is decomposed and
nutrients are released. So progressively you are mining soil. As a result of the mining practice, we call
it extractive farming, in Subsaharan Africa, in South Asia, in the Caribbeans, Haiti is
a very good example, many countries in South America, have depleted the soil by extractive
farming practices, by mining the nutrient so they have a negative nutrient budget. And what they take out has been more than
what they put in for decades if not for centuries. So this soil productive capacity has been
mined out. Soils have been taken for granted. That is where they do not produce. I strongly believe that health of soil, plants,
animals, people, and ecosystems is one and indivisible.

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