Agronomy Geeks West — Ep. 19: How Long it Takes To Make Soil (Hint: Too Long)

If you’ve noticed soil getting a whole lot more attention lately, it’s for good reason. Not only are scientists beginning to unlock many of the mysteries of what lies beneath, but agriculture has also started to wake up to the importance and potential of soil management on yield. Farmers have always known that soil is important, but we’re beginning to learn the ‘why’ and the ‘how’ of that equation. What’s more, 2015 has been dubbed the International Year of Soil by the UN, virtually guaranteeing soil’s elevation to dinner table topic by the end of next year.

In this episode of the Agronomy Geeks West podcast, I’m joined by Angela Bedard-Haughn, a soil scientist with the University of Saskatchewan who specializes in understanding how soil is formed. In this discussion, Bedard-Haughn explains how crucial it is to first think about conservation practices of soil, because while they may not be making any more land, soil is actually harder to replace than you might think. You’ll learn just how long a process soil formation is, how it is influenced by factors like weather and parent material, but, most importantly, also by human activity on the landscape.

In the (rather wordy) intro of this podcast, I also refer to some neat work done on measuring how much soil we’ve lost or moved from hilltops to depressions in the last few decades. You can find that work here: Pennock 2003 Soil and Tillage Research