Soil Health

World Soil Day: The Golden Ratio for Restoration

Soils, though hidden, are the cornerstone of all life on earth. Through soil’s extraordinary capacity to form, store, transform, and recycle the nutrients, they produce 95 percent of our global food. Despite technological advances, the upper 15cm are still the basis of what humanity relies on to live. A fitting reminder for this year’s World Soil Day: ‘Where Food Begins’.

Globally, 33% of soils are already degraded. This figure is accelerating and, according to the FAO, the status of soil fertility is in decline because of unsustainable soil management practices. As a result, yields, as well as potentially food micro nutrient content, are suffering – greatly undermining our future security in the face of growing climate change.

With the need to produce 60% more food by 2050, the demand to reverse our current trajectory has never been more pressing.

The solution may be closer than you think. By harnessing the superhero potential of farmers and businesses, global soil restoration can be achievable.

The Key to Unlocking Healthy Soils: A Dutch Case Study

The Netherlands is one of the world’s largest agricultural producers, exporting 65 billion Euros worth of vegetables, fruit, flowers, meat and dairy products each year. It is a small, densely populated country, with limited natural resources available for large-scale agriculture. Yet it’s the globe’s number two exporter of food as measured by value, second only to the United States, which has 270 times its landmass {National Geographic}. 

There’s no denying this small but ambitious country has reached milestones in finding the most innovative ways to tackle the food crisis.

Dutch landscape

This hasn’t come without cost, though. As early as 2010, Jeroen and Mellany, 3rd generation farmers of Klompe Landbouw were suffering the consequences of this system on their yield.

Over time, their inputs were outweighing their outputs, simply no longer providing an economically viable farming model for their business. Searching for new ways to work, their backgrounds in farming and environmental science created the perfect catalyst for an experimental agricultural mission of a lifetime.

“Some years after experimenting new methods, we discovered the term ‘regenerative agriculture’ in an article – it was then that we found a name for what we do.”

Mellany Klompe, Founder of Soil Heroes Foundation
Jeroen and Mellany Klompe; Founders of Soil Heroes and Soil Heroes Foundation

11 years later, Klompe Landbouw is a regenerative experience farm, which utilises the benefits of dutch innovation in the best way to create proof of practice for other farmers to adopt.

Biodiversity lanes on Klompe Landbouw

At the same time, regenerative agriculture is gaining huge momentum at a global scale as a set of key principles not only for economically future-proofing farms and businesses, but in finding ways to tackle the environmental crises affecting food security as a whole. 

How? By mimicking nature’s wise systems which allow natural processes to boost farm productivity whilst restoring the soils it relies on.

Regenerative agriculture and the fibonacci sequence

The Fibonacci Sequence and sustainable soil management principles go hand-in-hand. Similarly to the butterfly effect, its core principle teaches how much of nature’s law is governed by patterns, multiplying each time. Simply, what you put in is what you get out. 

In this sense, through unsustainable soil management, the negative effects will increase. On the other hand, through restorative methods, natural benefits will multiply.

Don’t let the metaphorical element fool you, though. Biologists and physicians today and throughout history have explored the hidden patterns of the fibonacci sequence – also known as the golden ratio. Humans are said to have incorporated these patterns since as early as the ancient pyramids, more recently the Mona Lisa and yep, it even features in our logo.

Numerically, this looks like 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34… and so on. Can you see the pattern? Each number is the sum of the two numbers that precede it. It’s a simple pattern, but it appears to be a built-in numbering system to the cosmos.

Look closely at the distribution of seeds in the sunflower, for example, the twisting of the DNA gene or the formation of a storm.

Like nature, the phenomenon has been around since the beginning of time and both are inextricably linked.

Soil is a Battery

Currently, agricultural soils are depleting far faster than they can restore. Through this, as in fibonacci principles, we’re seeing serious occurrences in the form of nutrient depletion, soil degradation, and climate change to name just a few.

On the other hand, by adding more sustainable practices in the form of organic amendments to replace pesticides, for example, we will be rewarded much more significant ecosystem services.

Find out more about regenerative practices here.

“Soil is a battery, you have to charge it”

Soil Heroes Founder and regenerative farmer, Jeroen Klompe

Farmers hold the battery pack, but they cannot do this without support from businesses, organisations and the commodity system that drives production. By harnessing this collective power, regenerative agriculture can improve human health amongst other crucial environmental benefits whilst keeping food security threats at bay.

After all, healthy soil = healthy crop = healthy humans.

Farmers and Businesses can be Soil Heroes

Our collective mission is to empower businesses and farmers to be soil heroes. Soil Heroes Foundation provides the proof of practice and knowledge sharing. 

Soil Heroes aims to accelerate the transition of these practices by connecting businesses like Toast Ale with farmers like Weston Park Farms. This impact partnership provides a fantastic example of how businesses can support the stewards of our soils in innovative way to drive the advancement of regenerative agriculture.

Four Soil Heroes on a regenerative mission: Jack Bean and Klompe Landbouw (left), Weston Park Farms and Toast Ale (right)

We have one collective goal, and it all starts with soil.

Today, we are celebrating the soil heroes already on their mission and empowering others to join the movement. Happy World Soil Day!

Find out more information on the magic of soils and what you can do by heading to the FAO’s page here.

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