A great example of topsoil loss seen in Marrickville

A great example of topsoil loss seen in Marrickville

I remember the shock & disbelief I felt when I first heard years ago that the Earth was running out of topsoil.  How could this be so?  But it is happening.  Scientists believe the planet loses about 1% of topsoil per year to erosion & it’s not easy to replace, taking hundreds of years to restore just 2.5-5cms (1-2 inches).

“Call it the thin brown line. Dirt. On average, the planet is covered with little more than 3 feet [91.4cms] of topsoil — the shallow skin of nutrient-rich matter that sustains most of our food & appears to play a critical role in supporting life on Earth.”  http://bit.ly/UdAikY

American Actor Eddie Albert said the following in 1980 –  “When our European ancestors arrived on this continent, our topsoil averaged around 18 inches [45.7cm] in depth. With our intensive agricultural practices, we’ve eroded it to around eight inches [20 cm]) . . . that’s all that’s left between us & world disaster. When that eight inches goes, you & I go.

When the trees were gone, topsoil loss inevitably followed. Exposed to rain, wind, & sun, it lost its organic matter, its humus, its soil life . . . the spongy quality that gives the earth its ability to hold water through droughts. . The soil dried out & became dead dust. The next wind blew it away, or the next rain washed it down the river . . . & the earth died. The climate changed as the rain cycle slowed down as a result of deforestation.

The cycle is always the same: Man comes . . . the trees go . . . the topsoil goes . . . the desert comes.  We are following that path.”

It’s a great speech & you can read it here – http://bit.ly/VuBHKM

So what can we do as city dwellers?  Two options are no-till & organic gardening methods.  Both are known to build upon the soil, increase water retention & to improve soil health.  A small change in our own small gardens can help the planet in a big way.  This short article explains the how to do no-till gardening – http://bit.ly/SohF3m

Riverbank at Marrickville

Riverbank at Marrickville

Because trees are so important in preventing topsoil loss we should be getting as many into the ground as we can.  Along Marrickville’s side of the Cooks River at Kendrick Park, Mackey Park, some areas on the way to Steel Park & along the Marrickville Golf Course show erosion of soil.  When there is a big tide, these areas flood & take soil into the river when the tide goes out.  There are significant holes where soil has been removed from the riverbank even where there are sandstone walls.  Marrickville Council will be planting trees along the riverbank of the golf course with a budget of $30,000, which should make a difference in this section.

The Ecological Agriculture Australia Association has published a Special Edition online newsletter for World Soils Day packed with articles & links concerning soil.  It’s quite an incredible resource.  Thank you to my friend who sent this to me this morning.  See – http://bit.ly/VkMT6F  We can all do something to improve soil.  It’s too important to ignore.

The area without grass often floods when the tide is high.  The area is full of holes.

The area at Mackey Park without grass often floods when the tide is high & is full of holes.  It gets worse every year.