Here at Soil Heroes, we want to make nature everybody’s business. That means nature should have a seat in every boardroom and biodiversity should be considered at every level of every project.
We don’t just come at biodiversity from a moral perspective but also a practical one. We want the kind of food security, water security, and social security that cannot exist in the absence of healthy landscapes that buzz with life.
Of course, we also want our children and grandchildren to grow up with grass beneath their feet and birdsong in the sky. The good news is that protecting and regenerating biodiversity does not come at the expense of human wellbeing but promotes it.
Regenerating biodiversity does not come at the expense of human wellbeing but promotes it.
Biodiversity is declining all over the globe. But here in Europe, we’re losing biodiversity at a particularly alarming rate, with the majority of Europe’s animal species facing an uncertain future. For example, 50% of biodiversity in the UK has been destroyed since the beginning of the industrial revolution. This is far worse than the 25% average loss across the globe.
The Soil Heroes Response
We know that promoting biodiversity is critical for a brighter future. But it can be hard to motivate change without financial incentives. Our offsetting and in-setting offers help ensure that biodiversity does not get overlooked in a frantic rush for cheaper commodities.
Instead, farmers can be paid for projects like adding biodiversity lanes to their farming rotations. These carefully designed wildflower strips create habitat for pollinators and beneficial insects. As well as an increase in biodiversity, farmers can expect to reduce pest pressure thanks to predatory insects.
There are several other ways that our farmers enhance biodiversity both above and below the ground. Here are a few key examples.
Reducing chemical and mechanical soil disturbance protects soil microorganisms like fungi, bacteria, and protozoa. They may be microscopic, but these organisms are the essential base from which all other life can develop.
Ploughing is particularly harmful to soil life because 90% of soil biology is in the top 10cm of topsoil. So every time the soil gets ploughed, trillions of beneficial organisms find themselves flung into an inappropriate environment and die. Worms also get chopped and crushed by heavy machinery, and chemical pesticides can kill worms, insects, and microorganisms. This loss of soil life also reduces biodiversity above the ground.
After all, a healthy community of microorganisms support healthy plant growth. In fact, 80% to 90% of plant species rely on a symbiotic relationship with mycorrhizal fungi. Microorganisms are also eaten by worms and insects, which support small mammals, birds, and larger predators. As plants and animals decompose, they feed those same microbes that made life possible. But when this circle of life gets broken by soil disturbance practised in conventional agriculture, the entire ecosystem falls out of balance.
Living Roots and Covering Soil Surface
Nature doesn’t leave bare soil, and neither do regenerative farmers. Bare ground is vulnerable to the heat island effect, killing microorganisms when the soil temperature rockets. This has an inevitable impact on the whole circle of life.
Keeping a living root in the ground also minimises soil erosion, so we look to cover the ground with perennial plants or cover crops wherever possible. This protects local water systems from sedimentation, a type of water pollution that starves aquatic plants of light, blocks fish gills, and pollutes human drinking water.
Using cover crops or providing areas for nature through riparian buffers can prevent farming inputs from running into the water table, protecting human health and aquatic biodiversity.
Our regenerative farmers and clients aim for diversity, which often includes rotating livestock and crops, supporting a wider variety of insects, amphibians, birds, and wild animals. The integration of biodiversity corridors and wild spaces create habitats for a wide range of wildlife. In turn, complex farm ecosystems are more resilient to climate shocks, pests, and disease.
For example, a diverse community of soil microorganisms can help prevent pathogens from wiping out a harvest. (Just like a healthy gut microbiome is essential to human health, a balanced soil microbiome will increase the immunity of the regenerative farm.)
We are currently living through the “sixth mass extinction”, which has been primarily caused by human activity. But with 38% of world land surface in food production, a widespread shift to regenerative agriculture would have an enormous impact on global biodiversity.
With that in mind, we always include biodiversity into our pricing plans. Because even if the benefits of biodiversity are far more important than money, we are not going to see the changes we need at the necessary scale and timeframe without tangible incentives.
Biodiversity is the key to healthy landscapes and healthy communities. So we will continue to put it in the centre of our work. If you’d like to learn more about offsetting and in-setting with Soil Heroes, you can message Tom using the link below. He will be happy to answer any questions you might have!
Business Development, UK
Let’s talk about Regenerative Agriculture
You know you’ll dig it too.