Three soil remediation strategies of the future
As humans, our wellbeing is inextricably linked to that of the soil. Much of our food comes directly from the ground, and much of the rest is the product of animals that also feed on the earth’s bounty.
Over time, more and more of the world’s soil is becoming polluted by sewage and the endless waste we pump out of our businesses and homes. While governments can force companies to clean land if they are deemed to have caused pollution for details, many pollutants are simply by-products of normal growing processes. There is hope for the future, however, with three solutions in particular potentially being the answer to our prayers.
A new kind of fertiliser
Many types of fertiliser are actively threatening ecosystems; for example, bees are being poisoned by flora sprayed with aggressive fertilisers such as neonicotinoids and fipronil. The UK Soil Association is currently running a campaign to ban neonicotinoids outright.
Scientists have been searching for an alternative to harmful chemicals; now, using anaerobic digestion, they have found a greener way to produce biogas. A by-product of the process is digestate, which is fermented, full of nutrients, and a perfect fertiliser.
Manure and compost
Through animal manure and composting, scientists have found a way to treat soil. In some cases, manure can restore soil to peak fertility, with companies such as www.ashremediation.co.uk offering this land remediation service to clients. One problem is that certain compounds, such as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), polychlorinated dibenzo-p-dioxins and dibenzofurans (PCDD/Fs), can enter our soil systems and cannot be eradicated using manure or composting.
A solution could be on the horizon, however, as scientists have successfully been trialling the use of fungi to break down these compounds. Although the fungi would not naturally be found in such soil, it can live there in certain conditions. Studies so far have been lab-based, but scientists are hopeful for the future.
While new innovations in fertilisers and solutions are incredibly positive steps in the fight against soil contamination, there is another even more effective way of maintaining clean soil. As countries across the world learn about the effects of contamination, many are taking measures to reduce the strain they put on their soil. When it comes to the earth, it seems that prevention is better than cure.