Trees and Soil  

TOPIC: Trees and Soil

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Date: Tues, Sep 9 2008 7:05 am

The cover story for the September issue of National Geographic is on the importance of soil: “Our Good Earth”   The future rests on the soil beneath our feet.  Can we save it?   Preserving and renewing both our soil and water seems to be a theme that is gaining increasing importance and publicity.  What caught my attention in particular was the importance of trees for both soil preservation and renewal.  Trees are an important component in these efforts both in Sub-Saharan Africa and Western China.  We have been seeing the devastation in Haiti from a variety of hurricanes.  The destruction is much more severe due extensive deforestation that has taken place on the island. 
            Something else of interest was the discovery of something called “Terra Preta do Indio – Black Indian Earth”.  Amazonian peoples from 2,500 to 500 years ago created rich soil in the Amazon by mixing charcoal, food wastes along with the usually poor soil of the rain forest.  It’s a practice that a number of soil scientists and agronomists hope to revive.
            The photo on the last page is also noteworthy.  It’s a picture from 1957 taken in Roosevelt County in New Mexico.  It shows how the native bluestem grass held soil in place in spite of erosion that had taken away nearly 5 feet of the surrounding dirt. 
Ed Nizalowski
Newark Valley, NY