Tread Lightly

Tread lightly on your planet: but how?
Met Office :“ . . . global sea level has risen by about 20 cm, primarily as a result of ocean warming and melting of land based ice”.

There is nothing romantic about the vital soil under our feet but we need to look after it as best we can. The above extract about the climate hides the fact that more heat means more rain and more rain means the nutrients in the soil will be leached out; it means that plants will try to adapt but the question is: can they adapt at an unprecedented speed?

Do we begin to teach this generation about the struggle and the effort needed to help the natural world adapt to our mistakes? Rain has dramatic effects on soil; bare soil, between crops, the nutrients are washed into the streams and then to the sea; the bright green seaweed around our coasts are evidence of this.

The run- off can be slowed down by use of hedges and more buffer zones of trees or even beavers; though their welcome is questionable. Increasingly technology is being applied in farming meaning not only more efficient use of additives but importantly less heavy machinery. Children need to understand these facts.

Natural systems need to be nurtured by this generation. We are at the top of the food chain and the health of the wild elements is an indicator of our health. If the insects go, so do we.

All primary children should be enabled to experience “soil”. Learning what worms and moles and fungi do and what different plants extract or improve it for the benefit of cereals and root vegetables is basic science.

An example of an improvement on traditional methods was in the news this week, the farmer covered his cattle manure, which produces gasses as it is broken down by microbes, with a sheet and then turned it over to increase the oxygen to then complete the process under cover again. The result was a 50% increase in the quality of the composted manure.

Keeping chickens is the easiest way to teach children about natural processes like this. The straw needs to be chemical free; the mix of straw and droppings needs to be stacked for six months before use because it becomes a very powerful fertiliser. Outdoor lessons can be conducted, learning by experimenting rather than entirely theoretically and they may even stumble across new facts.

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