Soil and Bioremediation

Kolb bog spot
Garden Tower Project* > Lifestyle > Soil and Bioremediation

When it comes to food, soil is where it’s at. Healthy soil means healthy plants means healthy people. That’s why nutrient dense-foods are as important to know about as organic or local foods. Growing your own in an active soil food web is key.

We focused on what goes into healthy soil in a blog post from May this year, and there’s more. Many of us live in urban or rural areas that have damaged and contaminated soils, which can be caused by oil spills, herbicides, asphalt and concrete bases in the soil, among other factors. In fact, it’s safe to say that most of us have something to consider in our environment. This blog post isn’t meant to be a “doomer downer” entry. It is meant to introduce to you some techniques to heal our soils.

  • Microbial remediation utilizes the bacteria and other microbes present in a healthy soil food web. Composting and applying compost as well as increasing the variety of plant species present are two of the keys.
  • Phytoremediation uses plants as the primary processors of toxins. Plants can extract the toxin (which they then remove themselves), break the contaminant down, or bind it up.
  • Mycoremediation uses fungi to process contaminants. Fungi are especially good at processing long-chain carbon substances, such as those made from oil.

These three techniques, alone or in combination, can do a lot to work with natural processes to break down or bind up toxins. Remediated landscapes are then much healthier for people, plants, and animals to be in. Don’t go it alone! More research and working with specialists in the subject can help you to assess and formulate a plan for how to address an area safely. Healing a damaged landscape can take years, but it’s completely worth the effort.

Community groups, together with municipalities, will need to get together to collectively make decisions for large, common spaces. Many municipalities and states mandate capping the damaged soil with clean soil brought in from outside. Just like throwing a rug over your dirty floor, capping is not a complete solution. While it is an understandable approach given financial and time constraints, it’s worth suggesting alternative test plots using remediation and proceeding carefully.

Here are a couple of things to inspire you.

Check out Earth Repair: A Grassroots Guide to Healing Toxic and Damaged Landscapes by Leila Darwish, and the work of Paul Steamiest of Fungi Perfecti. Both authors are cautious, optimistic, and passionate about transforming our landscapes into healthier places for future generations.