Sustainable Agriculture discussion: IS water or soil health our biggest concern?
I love and am fascinated with the soil, but soil health starts with a certain degree of water. The most vibrant soil goes dormant in the monsoon season without drainage and in the summer drought without irrigation. I’d say we need to build the soil health while there is enough water to do so. The most fertile soils are fertile because in the presence of plentiful biomass, they are biologically active for more days out of each year. The drivers are moisture with aeration and reasonable temperature with breakdown product (biomass and minimal nitrogen).
The law of the minimum: several players, but you cannot minimize the role of water. Use it when you have it to build soil so you can keep it!
Water and Nitrogen also affect efficiency along with other things. Does the system “burn biomass” like it is going out of style or does it slow cycle biomass while extracting every ounce of benefit. Sufficient water improves efficiency to keep the soil active while getting more soil benefit from every ounce of biomass.
On a counter point:
I live in Western, Oregon in what was once called temperate rain forest. I am observing mountain decertification here with 60 inches a year of annual rainfall and an ongoing production of Douglas fir. I suppose, imbalanced forestry is a type of mining. The more our mountain soils are mined of nutrients, the less productive they become at growing trees, and at holding water to feed the slopes and streams during the summer drought. Winter sees more rapid floods, summer sees all time low stream levels and changing flora.