Welcome to my new website and this here blog which I will try my best to make a [somewhat] regular contribution to. You can see already from the insertion of my bracket there that I am certainly not overly ambitious about the regularity of this blog so don’t hold your breath too long, but I shall put pen to paper [so to speak] as and when I find the time to gather the musings and meanderings of my ideas, thoughts and readings. I think I’ll keep the posts fairly informal and not too structured. I do welcome discussion so feel free to reply your own thoughts below. It’s all about sharing ideas after all and I’m more than happy to embrace both agreement and disagreement – there are many roads to Rome after all and no harm in a variety of discussion along the way.
Although I’ve been involved with horticulture and agriculture for many years prior, I fell into starting my first consultancy, BioLife Ag. It wasn’t something I planned on doing at all, but when a farmer contact asked me to run a day course, I had to register something and BioLife Ag was it! One thing led to another and it has since done me well these past 8 years. But I have felt more recently, having developed my readings and material from that initial seed, that I needed a new name that reflected my current thinking on soil management. Thus, here we are today with Integrated Soils – still the same me in reality, just a new representation for moving forward with my soils education. So once again, welcome to old and new…
I personally have always been fascinated by the intricacies of soil – the vast biological diversity, the infinite number of reactions sparking within its chemistry, or the geological processes that create structural order from such a diverse mix of starting materials. It truly is such a dynamic and awe inspiring ecosystem. Let’s be honest though, soil has traditionally been more of an acquired taste just for those in the industry – farmers, researchers, consultants and the like. But all fortunes have their rise and fall and right now in the current climate, soil is riding a wave of renewed interest and popularity and not just amongst industry. Dare I say it, soil is even fairly ‘in vogue’ at the moment – most likely with particular thanks to the woes of our changing climate. In recent years, I have seen all sorts of citizens engage with soil – consumers, gardeners, teachers, school kids, health professionals, politicians and even mums and little ones. We all eat after all, and we all have a stake in soil. Wonderful initiatives like the UN’s FAO International Year of Soils in 2015 and 4 per 1000 from Paris COP21 are testament to the rise of soil now being an integral part of the agenda, and that is great news for the future!
Lastly, I have begun the arduous process of researching and collating articles, information and ideas for a book that I am authoring. I am in the early stages of bringing together the format, structure and content for the book but it will certainly be heavily rooted in soil biology and plant microbiomes – essentially looking at soil and plant health through a lens of soil life – from a living perspective. I’m very much interested in exploring the links between microbes, nutrition and plant immunity within agro-ecosystems and how we can apply this information out in the field. The content will be relevant for both conventional and ecological production systems but will have a particular focus for conventional producers toward the goal of using less inputs. I’ll be honest and say that I’m intentionally writing a blog to force myself to check in regularly sharing updates etc. The aim is to keep me in a writing frame of mind to help maintain momentum when working on the book, but also to share and test ideas. Consequently, please do comment and share – your input and feedback will also help shape the book in real time as I’m working on it. If you’d like to be kept up to date with updates regarding the book, this blog or my seminar appearances, do sign up to the mailing list and follow me on social media.