As a soil survey professional, it has been easy to develop tunnel vision when it comes to soil health. The focus is on the soil only and considering soil health as a standalone environmental topic: soil for the sake of soil rather than soil for the sake of economics. Consideration of the knock-on effects has admittedly often fallen somewhat by the wayside.
Attendance at a Soil Health and Regenerative Agriculture event proved a useful insight into the positive impacts of soil health on livestock farms. With some minor compromises from both sides, improving soil health and maintaining a profitable farming business are far from mutually exclusive.
The most profound example related to trampling of wet soils, which is perceived as a bad thing. However, when instructor Niels Corfield explained that increased trampling through mob grazing results in increased contact between grass residues and the soil, and importantly the soil microbes, the trampling can in fact help to drive the nutrient cycling process.
For the soil this means sacrificing some soil structure in return for an energy source for the soil microbial community, increasing organic matter and reducing the area of bare soil. For the farmer this means sacrificing time and foreplanning water access (as mob grazing requires frequent movements) in return for even grazing, long rest periods and improved subsequent grass growth. There are positive outcomes for each, with the potential for ongoing and progressive improvements.
Although the tunnel vision on the soil as a standalone asset remains, being exposed to different perspectives and practical applications has served to make this tunnel just a little wider.