The Life Cycle of Soil
Soil Has Its Own Life Cycle
The full life cycle of soil, in all of its stages, can be seen across the Hawaiian Islands in soils that are several hundred to several million years old, with lava as their substrate. On the new island like the Big Island of Hawaii, you will find soils as young as 300 years to extraordinarily rich 20,000-year-old soils in which just about anything can grow, to 350,000-year-old soils whose nutrients have been washed out by eons of rainfall.
Extremely old Hawaiian soils, like Kauai, reaching four million years, are almost completely devoid of nutrients. These ancient soils are highly compressed and essentially just clay.
Unfortunately, agriculture the way it’s typically done today greatly accelerates this soil aging process. Soils that would have remained viable for millions of years in nature are rendered dead and lifeless by monoculture in a few short years. Tragically, these soils will take hundreds to thousands of years to recover fully in nature—and not until all agricultural assaults are ceased.
Chemical farming results in waterlogged soil that’s easily compacted by heavy machinery, rendered impermeable and susceptible to erosion. One-third of the world’s arable land has already been lost to soil erosion.