HomePermacultureHow do soils work?

Learnings from Claude and Lydia Bourguignon

How do soils work?

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How do soils work?

Claude and Lydia Bourguignon explained in a conference how soils work, and we summarized the main learnings in this article (1).

Organic matter returning to the soil

Like us, soils are born, live, and then die. When soils die, they go to rivers and then to the seas.

Without any human intervention, a natural environment becomes a forest which are perfect closed ecosystems where everything is balanced, and nothing is wasted.

During the winter, soils cool down, microbes stop working, trees lose their leaves and dead wood, which form litter.

This organic matter becomes food for wildlife (insects, earthworms, mites, etc.).

Wildlife poops are attacked by mushrooms that produce humus, forming forestry soil that is 80% empty since water and oxygen need to infiltrate the soil.

Organic matter decomposition

When the air becomes warmer, microbes and bacteria start working again.

They transform humus into nitrate, phosphate, and other nutrient elements.

Rain brings them down, and trees’ horizontal roots absorb nutrient elements.

Deep roots attack bedrock with acids, and as a result, clay is formed.

Claude and Lydia Bourguignon presentation “Comprendre le sol, la terre et l’humus”

Giant earthworms who live in vertical burrows digest both humus and clay to form a clay-humus complex which eases plant assimilation, prevents water mineralization, and retains water in soils.

Trees provide sugar to mushrooms through their root system in exchange for nutrient elements in the clay-humus complex.

When organic matter is destroyed (by humans), wildlife dies, no humus is formed, plants cannot get nutrient elements, soils and clay are rejected in rivers, and soils die.

Also, water is mineralized, polluting rivers and resulting in algae multiplication in seas.

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