A Permaculture Approach to Soil

2015 has been made the International Year of Soil, a clear acknowledgement of the growing attention being paid to soil as the foundation of human food production. Throughout the world, soils are becoming degraded as a result of monocutural agriculture, deforestation, overgrazing and climate change, with soil management  often focusing only on soil chemistry. However,  in the last few years there has been a revolution in our understanding of the web of life which underpins healthy soil. This paper will explain some of that new research on soil. It will also propose a permaculture approach to soil as a complex living system where chemistry, biology and physical structure all interact and support each other. This has big implications for how we both understand and manage our soil.  Finally the soil tests created by the Permaculture Association will be briefly explained. Building healthy soil which supports abundant crops lies at the heat of caring for the earth and for each other in the 21st Century.


I have been the Research Coordinator for The Permaculture Association Britain for three years. I hold a PhD in Urban Studies from Glasgow University. Previously I have worked in anti-poverty work, community development, history and archaeology teaching, organic food retailing and farming. I am married with two young daughters and live in Newcastle upon Tyne.


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