How to super size your soil
The National Environment Report from 2015 estimates over half the soils measured under dry stock (animals farmed for dairy, meat, wool, and velvet) and nearly 80 percent of soils under dairy farming in NZ are affected by compaction.
That’s bad news for the fungi that make soil great.
The accepted intelligence has always said that the only way topsoil is created is by the decomposition of carbon from the top down, taking hundreds of years to create a thin covering.
Now we know that it can happen a lot faster than that, from the bottom up if given the right circumstances, and the key is to make your mycorrhizal fungi happy. These fungi grow on the roots of grasses (and everything else). Plants and fungi swap nutrients in a symbiotic relationship which ensures that pasture growing on living soil is stuffed with every available nutrient.
But these fungi must have air, food and water. It can’t get enough of these if the soil is compacted by too many heavy animals for long periods of time, especially when the ground is wet.
Mycorrhizal fungus is subject to other fatal interventions under industrial farming methods too. Blanket spraying of ‘weeds’ (usually known in biological farming circles as ‘herbs’ or simply ‘diversity’) also kills it, as does continual blanket use of anthelminthic drenches when defecated out by stock.