Soil Talk… Is This The End Of Nomad Life?


You may think I’ve been neglecting the blog a little bit over the last few weeks. Well, you’d be right!

So, I just wanted to let you guys know what’s been keeping me so busy.

My freelance writing contracts are taking up a lot of my time (which is great, I’m so grateful to be able to make money remotely), but I’ve also started training to become a soil analyst!

It’s a pretty intense course that will take several months (and rather a lot of my savings!), but at the end of it all, I will be a certified soil technician. I will then set up a lab, so I can look at soil under my microscope and tell farmers what’s going on with the microorganisms that live there.

How can I have a laboratory in my van?!

Well, there’s the other thing…

We have saved up enough money to buy a small piece of land in the next year. We have our eyes open for a place where I can have my laboratory, and we plan to create a nature reserve and permaculture project there as we slowly make the money to do so with freelance work.

(It will also be good for Pirate to have a more stable place to do dog things. He is a bit of a prince!)

We will still have our van for travelling, and living in on the land that we end up buying.

That’s the plan anyway, but goodness knows things are completely unpredictable with COVID!

There are as many beings in the soil as stars in the sky!

Why the change?

As you know, I gave up my stuff to live in a tent, and then made an off-grid home in a van. It has been wonderful and fulfilling. But it’s not enough!

I decided to do this course and set up a soil lab because I want to have a positive impact on the world, not just focus on making a smaller impact.

When I’m qualified, I will be able to help farmers to restore their soil, and to grow without pesticides. This will save them tonnes of money as well as helping mother nature recover in time for humans to benefit. (She’s gonna recover anyway once we are extinct, but I hope we can hang in here a while longer!)

Restoring the soil is the key to so many of our problems. It can capture tonnes of carbon, promote biodiversity, and mop up toxic chemicals. Some fungi can eat plastic and healthy soil can even reverse desertification and drought!

There is so much hope, it’s right beneath our feet!

How can soil bring water back to the land?

Well, good soil grows stronger plants.

Those green lush microclimates attract more moisture, which can shift rainfall patterns and turn barren deserts into thriving rainforests. (Zach Weiss). Healthy soil also absorbs and stores water, which it can hold for many months. 

When soil is not healthy, rainfall rapidly runs off and causes flooding in some regions and droughts and wildfires in others. 

So, healthy soil is more valuable than we could dream of!

The future of topsoil

But we don’t treat our soils well at all. In fact, the UN reckons we’ve got only got 60 years of topsoil left due to bad practices such as ploughing that destroy the soil microbiome. In just decades, all current agricultural land will be too barren to support a single plant. (Only if we carry on as we are now!)

The good news is this:

When we start restoring the soil, we can see positive results in the first growing season. We can grow bigger yields, that are more nutritious. (Yes. Fruit and veggies are getting less nutritious every year because of the way we degrade our soil!)

Plus, farmers will be able to save tonnes of money because they won’t be relying on chemical fertilizers and pesticides.

Pesticides were developed from nerve agents designed to kill people in the second world war. The war ended two years ‘too early’ after the nuclear bombs were dropped, and the industry had to think of some way to sell them off! (Dr. Elaine Ingham)

But don’t we need pesticides and fertilizers to grow food?

Nope!

We don’t actually need any pesticides or fertilizers to grow food if the soil is healthy. But the soil gets sicker every single time those chemicals get used, so many farmers get stuck in a vicious cycle where they are going bankrupt and destroying their land at the same time.

As you can tell, I’m pretty excited about all this.

The course is certainly challenging me. I’m a creative person by nature, and my brain feels like it’s going to explode with all the science sometimes. But it’s worth every minute of chemistry headaches!

It is so inspiring and hopeful to know that changing the way we grow food can transform human health, allow biodiversity to thrive, and benefit the farmers working their butts off in the fields too. 

So, for now, I’m still living nomadically. (Well, as nomadically as you can in a national lockdown… not very!) But exciting projects are coming, and I’m looking forward to keeping you updated about them.

I hope you enjoyed this blog post! If you’re thinking ‘hey that course sounds interesting,’ you can check it out here.

You might also like to read:

And as always, I am so grateful to everyone that is reading the Highly Sensitive Nomad book. I do feel like the chapters on agriculture could do with an overhaul now that I’ve learned so much more about soil microbiology and chemistry. Maybe another edition is on the cards!

If you’d like to stay up to date, you can sign up for the blog below, or check out my Instagram or Twitter. Thanks for your time and I’m wishing you a happy, healthy week ahead!

Published by rph_writer

Freelance writer and Journalist. Author of Highly Sensitive Nomad.

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