Issue 2 - Fall 2016

Each edition we will bring you a story from our research and development team at Land Life Company. A closer look at some of the scientific aspects of our work planting trees in the most challenging locations on the planet. 

In one handful of soil

  • 10-50 billionaerobic bacteria
  • Up to 100 million different fungal cells (e.g. mushrooms)
  • Hundreds or thousands of arthropods and micro-arthropods
  • Thousands of different algae, protozoa, and nematodes.

It might not be obvious, but the soil beneath our feet deserves just as much attention as the plants that grow in it.

Did you know that there are more living organisms in a handful of soil than there are people on earth? That’s more than 7 billion harmoniously living organisms in one little handful of dirt. 

To put it in simple terms; healthy soil makes life on earth possible. Soils grow plants, recycle dead material, regulate and filter water flows, support buildings and roads, and provide habitat and food for plants, animals, and humans. Soil allows us to grow wood to build houses, cotton to make clothes, wheat to bake bread, and flowers to celebrate our anniversaries.

Half of the fertile soil on the planet has been lost in only the last 150 years. That’s millions of years of complex soil structures, fungi and bacteria covered up with concrete, exhausted through irresponsible agriculture, and poisoned with industrial toxic waste. In areas where vegetation has disappeared, soil starts to erode. The next step is land degradation, leaving dry, nutrient-poor dirt that can barely absorb water or provide the nutrients and fungi necessary for plants to grow. In countries like Mexico, the US, and across the African continent this has led to a rapid increase in abandoned farmland. 

Healthy soils can store large amounts of carbon, up to 50-300 tons per hectare
– equivalent to 180-1100 tons of carbon dioxide.
— UNCCD report ‘The Land in Numbers’, 2014

The good news is that there is a growing movement to protect the health of our planet, the forests, waterways and yes, the soil that makes it all possible. The UN General Assembly designated 2015 the International Year of Soils with many programs and initiatives drawing attention to the black gold beneath our feet. Farmers across Europe, Africa, the US, and Mexico are advocating the importance of soil health and the need for sustainable agriculture practices. Now governments are starting to catch on, providing funding for not only conservation but, increasingly, projects to restore degraded soils.

The moisture, salinity, structure, and bacterial construct of the soil directly determines the health and performance of the tree seedlings planted with the Cocoon. That’s why the arborists* here at Land Life Company do in-depth soil analysis of our planting sites before we kick off a Cocoon planting project. Soil analysis allows us to select the best species that will thrive in the soil circumstances and understand how we can optimize the physical, chemical, and biological properties of that ecosystem.

Planting trees, shrubs, and vines is the single-most effective way to not only sequester carbon from the atmosphere and slow global warming but also to re-boot that amazing circle of life churning beneath our feet every day.

Perhaps former US President Franklin D. Roosevelt said it best:

“A nation that destroys its soils destroys itself.”