Permaculture Approach to Soil Regeneration

March 02, 2022 Angela and Mandi Season 2 Episode 2
Permaculture Approach to Soil Regeneration
Show Notes

We are SO excited to bring all of this information to you!
As per usual, for more information find us at @axeandroothomestead and @wildoakfarms on Instagram. Cheers!

Quote from Angela’s upcoming book: We have identified many factors and practices that contribute to unhealthy soil ecosystems. But why bother trying to rectify and rehabilitate it? Healthy nutritionally dense soil can produce healthy nutritionally dense food for humans and animals. Ultimately it is the foundation for productive and sustainable agriculture. Farming for soil health creates a land stewardship relationship between land and grower. It fosters carbon absorption, erosion reduction, maximum water absorption, improved nutrient cycling, and overall land resiliency.

According to one study, “All plants require 17 elements to complete their life cycle, and an additional four elements have been identified as essential for some plants (Havlin et al. 2005). With the exception of carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen, which plants obtain from air and water, plants derive the remaining 14 elements from the soil or through fertilizers, manures, and amendments (Parikh & James 2012).”*

*scientific journal reference: Soil Minerals and Plant Nutrition, By: Balwant Singh, Ph.D. (Department of Environmental Sciences, The University of Sydney) & Darrell G. Schulze, Ph.D. (Department of Agronomy, Purdue University) © 2015 Nature Education 

Citation: Singh, B. & Schulze, D. G. (2015) Soil Minerals and Plant Nutrition. Nature Education Knowledge 6(1):1

Soil Layers
Horizon O = organic material on top of soil (grass, logs, decaying material, etc.)
Topsoil = contains rhizosphere, part of Horizon A

Horizon A = underneath Horizon o and topsoil, contains rhizosphere roots

Horizon E = eluviation  layer, leached minerals and organic matter

Horizon B = subsoil / minerals and salts

Horizon C = parent material (decaying logs, rock)

Horizon R = bedrock

Rhizosphere = layer of soil where root and microgoranism interactions take place. Contains microbes, mycorrhizae, etc.

Mycorrhizae: beneficial fungus surrounding the roots. They help the plant absorb nutrients and moisture in exchange for feeding off plant’s sloughed off cells, sugars, starches, etc.

Microbes: join together to create a protective shield over plant roots to prevent pathogen and harmful bacteria access.

Healthy soil includes microbes, plant roots of varying layers, mycorrhizae, nematodes, protozoa, root exudates, minerals, decomposed and undecomposed plant matter. This creates hummus, a working soil ecosystem.

Farming practices that harm soil:

  • When we apply fertilizers, a plant no longer requires the assistance of mycorrhizae for nutrient absorption. The plant is absorbing nutrients from the fertilizer, instead of the soil. The fungi begin to die.
    ***(According to, “If not applied properly, up to 40 percent of nitrogen urea fertilizer can escape into the atmosphere as ammonia gas, through a process called volatilization.” A net loss of nitrogen is a result within the soil.
  • Stop amending soil specific to one plant’s needs. Instead, feed the soil.

Too much manufactured nitrogen → cause overactive soil microbes which feed on organic matter too quickly → organic matter in soil is depleted and can’t support crops nor absorb carbon and other nutrients → too little organic matter within soil can’t retain fertilizer and it leaches away which ends up in ground water and atmosphere.