Our soils are the source of most life on earth. A quarter of all species live beneath our feet - a spoon of healthy soil contains more living organisms than there are people on the planet.
And they recycle organic waste into nutrients that we rely on to produce 90% of our food.
But soils are badly degraded due to intensive agriculture.
Fertilisers are used to replace lost minerals in degraded soils. Excessive pesticides are needed for vast monocultures. Antibiotics are routinely overused in factory farming.
These chemicals are killing soil organisms and leaving top soil prone to erosion. They also contribute to climate change - 20% of agricultural emissions are from the use of synthetic fertilizers.
On top of this, intensive farming uses a process called tilling to blend manure and weeds into the soil in preparation for planting. But disturbing the soil kills the microorganisms that keep it healthy, releases carbon dioxide and reduces water retention.
We need to stop treating soil like dirt.
By rebuilding, replenishing and protecting our soils, we can restore the fertility we need to grow healthy, nutritious food.
And healthy soils play a vital role in mitigating climate change. Whilst excessive carbon in the air (CO2) is bad, carbon drawn down and stored in our soils is vital to life. We need to be increasing instead of continually reducing the amount of carbon in the soil. Removing it from the air is a win-win.
Healthy soil also provides clean drinking water thanks to earthworm tunnels that allow water to be absorbed and filtered (and allow air to reach the roots for healthy plants).
It also supports huge diversity of live - we need to value soil organisms just as we’ve come to value the role of bees as pollinators.
We can all help by reducing food waste (we currently waste ⅓ of all food wasted globally). This reduces the demands we place on the soil simply because we don’t need to produce as much food.
And we can buy produce from organic and regenerative farms.
Farms that use regenerative practices are working with nature rather than against it. They are adopting no-till methods to avoid damaging the soil structure, using diverse cropping to rotate what is grown in the field, planting cover crops all year round to prevent soil erosion from wind and rain, restoring hedgerows to support biodiversity and applying compost and animal manures to return nutrients to the soil.
We can do this on a smaller scale in our own gardens. Here’s some ideas:
- Leave some of your lawn to grow and encourage wildlife (let’s extend #NoMowMay)
- Plant wildflower seeds for pollinators.
- If you have unavoidable food waste, make your own compost. Unfortunately a lot of organic waste ends up in landfill where it releases methane and we lose valuable nutrients.
That’s why we’re collaborating with Toast Ale.
Toast Ale is an award-winning craft beer brewed with surplus ingredients that would otherwise be wasted with all profits going to charity.
And, in the lead up to the pivotal climate change negotiations at COP26, Toast are releasing Limited Edition beers alongside fellow B Corps. Each beer highlights part the ecological crisis, and the change needed to the food system to meet the ambitious goals set in the Paris Agreement to limit warming to 1.5oC.
Partnering with Toast Ale, we’ve created ‘Soil’ which is an Oat Pale Ale made with surplus fresh bread and organic British oats. It’s a hazy, juicy beer (alc. 4% vol.) with peach aromas and a spiced bitterness to balance the smooth, sweet oats.
Tasty and for a good cause. Go on, be a Rebel.
‘Soil’ is now available to buy from Toast Ale here and using Rebel15 you can get 15% off the Limited Edition batch.