Bridging the gap between science and tradition in soil health

HAVE YOU ever dug your hands into healthy soil, held it to your face, and it smelled good?

Have you ever felt the soil texture get just the right amount of moisture and crumble? And it was just perfect?

Have you ever walked the earth and felt just the right amount of spring under your feet – or no spring at all, and you know the ground is hard packed and dry?

How much do you trust these instant sensations?

Do you give them credit? Have you ever thought about honing in on those instant skill responses to assess your floor?

Our body constantly reacts to our environment. Every time we move to a different place, our body reacts with physiological changes, such as an increase in heart rate and blood pressure, a drop in oxygen in the blood, a change in the resistance of the skin or the muscle tone – this is called biofeedback.

Wouldn’t it be great to be able to read these physiological changes as they happen? Even use them to make decisions about our soil?

It’s less complicated than it looks. By far, the easiest biofeedback to measure is our muscle tone. A quick movement of our fingers tells us if and how our muscle tone is changing.

My grandfather taught me the basics of what I know today about floors. He cultivated a considerable acreage and managed horses with a yield that many of us can only dream of these days.

He knew everything about soil biology and biodiversity. He trusted his nose, his hands and his muscles – he had nothing else.
With all the science, research and technology available to us today, the majority of our soils are still producing far less per acre than two generations ago. As a result, our food has lost half of its nutrient content and has increased toxicity.

So, technology alone does not seem to provide the answer.

I like modern technology. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that – I don’t want to be without my washing machine, my dryer and my computers and certainly no longer my GPS. I work a lot with drone imagery, soil testing and microscopes to assess soils – but I never rely exclusively on them.

I always physically walk on the earth as much as possible and ask my body to complete the picture. By combining and integrating the two worlds – tradition and technology – we achieve the most accurate image and the best results. Technology and our instincts have their place in our toolbox. Let’s expand the toolbox.

With a little practice, we can check fungal/bacterial balance in soil via muscle tone, determine pH and more with incredible accuracy.

And don’t throw away the good old dowsing rods in a hurry. Dowsing sticks do nothing but amplify the pervasive biofeedback and make it visible. In other words, your body senses the water and the dowsing rods make it visible.


The next two-day soil workshop will take place April 2-23 in Foster North.

I teach soil biology, why it is important and how to restore it. We talk about regenerative solutions for weed control, erosion and water management. And, of course, I teach muscle testing and other traditional and modern methods for testing floors. E-mail
[email protected] for more information.

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