“I heart Soil” blog and merch update!

This is a quick post to let you know the “I heart Soil” blog– is moving to a new address!

We don’t want you to miss a moment of the news and discussions surrounding the importance of soil.  You’ll find the first new post at this link:   http://iheartsoil.blog.com/

And don’t forget, “I heart Soil” is adding new merchandise in support of education and awareness efforts.  Go to www.iheartsoil.org and click on the order link at the top right of the site.  Hats, shirts, coffee mugs, and more.  Show off your own “love” of soil!

I heart Soil merch for sale:  www.iheartsoil.org

I heart Soil merch for sale: http://www.iheartsoil.org

 

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Soil and recycling, not yet an Olympic sport, but receiving new attention..

The 2012 Summer Olympic Games are here and you may have a tradition of watching and cheering on your favorite athletes or teams, then (hopefully) enjoying the moment as they step on the podium to accept their hard-earned medal.  The spotlight is on sports.  But this year’s attention may also end up divided by a surprising way the organizer in London is turning soil and recycling into a big attraction there.

Built, but not to Last

According to the Inhabitat website, standing alongside the expensive, newly-built, permanant structures– is a 12,000 seat stadium for basketball.  But it is designed to be deconstructed and recycled after the Olympics.  Future planners are already saying this one building could change the games for good.  It may allow almost any country to play host, thanks to this type of cost-cutting innovation.  (..not just those who can afford the mammoth construction projects needed to accomodate the many sports and spectators.)  But sports and spectators bring cash– which in turn could help a struggling country’s economy.  Sounds like a win-win situation.

Basketball arena for 2012 Olympics in London is built to be recycled

Basketball arena for 2012 Olympics in London is built to be recycled

Reuse, Recycle

The basketball arena was completed ahead of time and under budget.  It’s built from 1,000 tons of steel– so some say it’s not fully green– yet it sure is a significant step in a more sustainable direction.  The building is wrapped with PVC– making both the frame and outer shell, fully reuseable.  And as noted in several articles, it makes the soil beneath it, reuseable as well.  Discussions continue for the temp-stadium’s use following the Olympics, with a press release stating:  “After the Games the venue will be dismantled by the contractors which built and own the temporary elements, with the option of using these elements of the arena at other UK and overseas events.”  It is now next scheduled for use at the Commonwealth Games.  And talk indicates it could be further recycled and reused during the 2016 Summer Olympic Games in Rio de Janiero.

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Are answers to drought dangers.. stored in the soil?

Farmers throughout the Midwest are being left to watch their crops lose a battle with one of the nation’s worst droughts in more than 15 years.  Many now despise hearing their local weathermen– who continue to deliver disappointingly dry forecasts, while some farmers have given up altogether on their wilting, would-be fields.  Others hold out hope with a bit of doubtful optimism, realizing, even large amounts of rainfall won’t make up for the ruthless conditions they’ve been dealt during May and June.

Crop insurance programs help reimburse farmers for losses due to environmental hardships.  But not all farmers are covered and the actual problem still requires a solution:  how do you reduce the risk of crop loss in harsh conditions such as a drought and heat wave?

Some of the answers may be found in how farmers manage their soils.                                The Rodale Institute has studied organic and conventional crop systems for more than 25 years and finds crops grown in organically managed soils perform significantly better in drought (and even flooding) conditions.  These soils possess better water-holding capacity and increased water infiltration rates, leading to the production of greater yields than conventional systems under extreme conditions.

Corn grown in organic and conventional plots

Soil rich in organic matter performs better under these conditions for a couple of reasons. It helps form soil aggregates, providing soil structure to withstand heavy rains.  These same aggregates allow for better water infiltration, which can be beneficial to crops in times of water scarcity.

Organically managed soils contain more organic matter than traditional systems because of the methods farmers use to provide nutrients to the soil.  Many conventional farmers rely on synthetic nitrogen fertilizers to feed their soils, a convenient and efficient nutrient option, but one also lacking in the addition of actual organic matter to boost the soil in times of dangerous conditions.

http://c1eatdrinkbettercom.wpengine.netdna-cdn.com/files/2012/07/organic-vs-conventional-corn.png     (PHOTO LINK)

Corn in the [organic] legume-based (left) and     conventional (right) plots six weeks after planting during the 1995     drought. The conventional corn is showing signs of water stress.
Photo     and caption: Rodale Institute

Organic farmers must instead add physical materials that are nitrogen rich, such as manure and compost. Cover crops can also pull in nitrogen from the air and deliver it to the soil below. The cover crop residue left over in the field is another source of organic matter that is so important to soil health.

The weather we’ve seen in the Midwest this year and the resulting crop loss should be an indicator that chemical-reliant farming is vulnerable to hot, dry weather. As climate change continues, these are the conditions we’ll likely see more of down the road. Perhaps the solution is to use the basic principles of organic farming to improve our soil’s health and prepare for the conditions we’re bound to face in the future.

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