We hosted a seminar at Steve’s house last weekend about topsoil. For starters, the presenters Abe Collins and Eric Noël gave us a crash course in soil science. Fun fact (new to me, anyway): topsoil does not grow from the surface up. It grows from the surface DOWN. Really? I always thought it was the decaying plant material plus manure piling up that made topsoil. Wrong! It is that organic stuff being drawn DOWN into the inorganic clay, silt or sand. So what brings the organic stuff down? Worms? Please! It is roots. And some roots are better at it than others. OK, here is the mind-blowing part: does building 3 feet of brand-new topsoil take millions of years? No! Under the right conditions, it can happen very quickly—like 3 years! And we can create the right conditions. How to create the right conditions was the real subject of the weekend seminar.
In case you didn’t know, mankind is busy destroying the world’s topsoil with conventional agriculture. So the idea that we can reverse the process comes as great news. There is also hope that we can sequester a significant amount of carbon this way. Anyway, a big thanks is owed to Abe and Eric for the seminar, and to Doug Hamm for the catering, and to all the attendees.