We are strong in terms of tillage, but weak in terms of fertility.
We are strong measured in chemical and mechanical power—millions and millions of tons of NPK, petrochemicals, herbicides and pesticides and the sophisticated technologies to apply them—but we are weak in terms of soil erosion, weak in terms of our connection to the land, weak in terms of sense of place.
Our industrial systems are taking carbon from the soil instead of building carbon in the soil. We have less and less organic matter, and fewer and fewer people who know what it feels, smells or tastes like.
This is a crisis in its own right, but it is also a spoke in the wheel of a larger crisis. Some might opine that food and agriculture are not merely a spoke, but are actually the hub, because if we don’t get agriculture right, then we can’t get industrialization and consumerism and globalization and urbanization right, and so, we can’t ever really get at the great systemic crisis of climate change and the increasing dysfunction of our institutions. – Woody Tasch