Most of us go through life without thinking about soils in general let alone about the soil beneath our feet. Top soil is arguably the most precious natural resources we have. All life is dependent on the thin layer of top soil that covers the earth.
Harvest Hastings (www.harvesthastings.ca) has invited Peter Neave a soil scientist, who works with Forests Ontario, to run a workshop on caring for the soil. It is at the Moira Community Hall on Thursday, April 10, from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Peter Neave will lead an indoor, hands-on, session and an outdoor session providing the weather co-operates. He will talk about the basics of soil, soil fertility, the value of soil tests, improving your soils, managing weeds and rotating crops. It is a good workshop to attend whether you are a farmer or a gardener.
In Hastings County, the soils developed under forests. Once we clear the land and grow crops we need to replace the nutrients we take out at harvest time. If we do not replace the nutrients, we are simply mining the soil. It takes a long time to form soils, but it takes no time to loose soils through erosion.
Soil is the mixture of minerals, organic matter, gases, liquids and a huge number of soil organisms. It is a living entity, not just a medium in which to grow plants. The bacteria and other organisms that live in the soil break down organic material and help release nutrients that enable plants to grow. The more nutrients there are in soils the more is available for plants and animals. Plants support soil organisms by secreting enzymes and sugar on which they feed.
Soil has an important role to play in locking up carbon and reducing the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.
When asked why he became a soil scientist Harvest Hastings member Jack Ketcheson a local asparagus grower, retired professor, and member of the City of Quinte West Agricultural committee said,
“Growing up on the home farm at Wallbridge in the 1920s, I soon realized how much our family relied on the soil for our existence and well being. When I read how many civilizations started up historically and perished because people neglected their soil resource and their food supply, I was further convinced of its importance, that is why I decided to learn all I could about soil science. I am glad I did.”
It is important we all learn about the soil we depend on for life.
For more information about the workshop or about Harvest Hastings please call 613 395 4388 or email infoharvesthastings.ca, www.harvesthastings.ca