Over the next 40 years, the farming industry will have to produce more food than it has in the past 500 years. This challenge transcends the massive workload placed on farmers. It also speaks to the growing scarcity of our most crucial resource in farming - a healthy and thriving soil. Treat the soil right, and gorgeous crops will follow. But the rich biodiversity of our soil - the same elements we rely on for mass production - has undergone a profound depletion. Living Soil presents a wealth of information about the importance of soil, how it functions, and what we need to do to salvage its functionality for future generations.
"Soil security is food security," says one agricultural expert profiled in the film. The key to preserving that security is in understanding the complicated interconnectivity found among the vast supply of living organisms underground, and in patiently nurturing our soil back to health.
Whether they're dealing in organic or regular foods, smaller-scale farmers who sell directly to the public are working hard to educate consumers on the importance of cleanly and responsibly grown crops. By controlling the amount of carbon and nitrogen in the soil, farmers are able to conserve on their use of industrial fertilizers. Consumers can taste the difference. They're attracted to the brilliantly colorful and vital crops that result, and they take piece of mind in knowing these crops do not contain potentially harmful chemicals. It also means that many cash-strapped farmers can save on waste and the cost of operating their businesses.
The film is an exhaustive crash course in the magic of soil. A microbiologist explains the wealth of microbials that exist in a single tablespoon of soil. We learn how the planting of an Asian pea among a corn crop can elevate the levels of nitrogen.
In the face of catastrophic climate change, overpopulation and a shortage of essential resources, these farmers are doing their part to help the environment from the ground up. It's an example that can provide great knowledge and inspiration to the future farmers who will be tasked with feeding our world.
Directed by: Chelsea Wright