Soil may look like dirt; however, it is full of essential microorganisms without which the food chain would collapse. Plants, animals and humans are all dependent on the soil; in fact, there is growing research to suggest that soil quality is vital to our overall diet.

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Tackling soil degradation can be an important step in combating climate change. This means it is important to understand what constitutes healthy soil and how we can protect it.


At its best, soil is full of nutrients vital to life. Unfortunately, modern farming techniques, particularly the use of pesticides, can destroy these nutrients. Research suggests that some modern vegetables have seen a reduction of as much as 40 per cent in their nutritional value in the last half-century. This means the human diet also loses the nutrients it traditionally received from plants.


A teaspoon of healthy soil should have enough lifeforms to outnumber all the humans currently in the world. Plants feed these microorganisms; in return, the microorganisms feed the plants. Healthy soil means healthier plants, with these minerals eventually being passed on to humans and other plant-eating animals.

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The animals most directly affected by soil health are foraging and grazing animals, including cows (as long as they do not overgraze). Again, they receive more nutrients when they feed on grass in healthy soil; what’s more, grass and plants tend to grow better when grazing animals are present. Animal products such as meat, milk and eggs are more nutritious when they come from animals fed in areas with healthy soil.

Conventional farming

Many modern farming techniques disrupt the relationship between microorganisms and soil. Chemical fertilisers and pesticides may help plants to grow larger but they destroy other organisms that coexist with these plants. Tilling can also destroy the ecosystems that contain microorganisms. Fortunately, modern companies are trying to change this. Soil remediation services from specialists such as are just one way to improve soil.


If you want to source your food from healthy soil, there are several steps you can take. You can buy organic and imperfect-appearing produce. You can also talk to farmers about how they interact with their landscape. The very best way to guarantee soil health is to grow your own food, although this is not practical for everyone.