By Sia Chitnis
You can only save that which you truly love. The soil that I love needs saving, and we as a whole need to learn how to love it more. If we can do so, we can learn how to change soil’s evolutionary path to become healthy again. Without our love and nurturing, our soil is leading to a point of no return.
The soil started speaking to me, but it was a different language: a cry. Our soil may be alive right now, but it is dying, and it is crying for help. Your help, my help, and our help. Those of us who love the green and the earth need to speak up and try to learn the language that the soil is speaking to us. I’ve heard an SOS from the Earth, and I am responding with (S)ia (o)n (S)oil. Sia on Soil is an outcry of love and a challenge to all of us to care again, starting with understanding the broken language the soil is speaking to us.
Due to climate change and farming actions towards the environment, the soil can’t replenish and therefore releases carbon into the atmosphere. This loss of carbon leads to the depletion of the soil, and the excess carbon that is released is harmful to the atmosphere. With these depleted and degraded soils, plant and crop growth is hindered, as is the soil’s ability to hold water.
When enough water passes through the soil, nutrients can be dissolved in the water, and leave with the water once the soil releases whatever amount of water it cannot absorb and retain.
The soil’s inability to retain nutrients and remain healthy is what leads to the growth of vegetables and food that lose their original and true nutrient, vitamin, and mineral capacity. To disguise this, current solutions offered are to simply practice no till farming, use cover crops, or mulching. However, these “solutions” aren’t really that simple, as it is difficult to force and expect every farmer to do so.
So, some farmers use synthetic fertilizers to instill these nutrients to promote the growth of plants, but the nutrients introduced through synthetic fertilizers are chemicals which can do us more harm than good. They can cause long term damage to the soil, but will keep growing the plants, so we would never notice when to stop killing the land we walk on. Usage of these chemical fertilizers can result in an abundance of toxic chemicals in the soil including arsenic, cadmium, and uranium, which may eventually find its way to the plants and food that we eat. The food we eat, the food the animals on our earth eat, and the food that is grown from this very dying soil is losing its original status.
Therefore, the safest way to practice healthy living is to eliminate the need for chemicals and synthetic fertilizers by saving the soil, the basis to which all crops are grown, without synthesized chemicals and without losing original nutrients that enhanced our soil.
My solution, Sia on Soil, aims to do so. I’ve chosen to genetically engineer the soil to make it living and healthy again. CRISPR will genetically modify the soil porosity to alter the amount of water that is stored in soil’s pores. The pore size determines how much is stored, and smaller particles retain a greater amount of water. Stronger retention of water in soil will lead to a domino effect of solutions on the soil’s health, the earth’s health, plant health, animal health, and our health.
If we don’t save the soil now, we don’t save the plants, the animals, and ourselves. As Sir Albert Howard said, “the health of soil, plant, animal, and man is one and indivisible.”