The Indian guru, Sadhguru, is leading a global initiative called SaveSoil, which works to promote better soil health worldwide. He is advocating providing farmers with financial help to encourage them to maintain a minimum of 3% organic content in their soil. Experts estimate that more than 50% of the agricultural soil on the planet has already deteriorated. According to David Montgomery, professor of geomorphology at the University of Washington, the reality of most soil degradation is a build-up over time rather than a single catastrophic event. There are many factors that contribute to soil degradation, including overgrazing, planting only one crop continuously, and overusing weed killers. But one aspect that has helped is a piece of farming gear called the plow. In order to remove weeds, modern plowing disrupts the soil, but in doing so, it exposes bacteria beneath the soil that are essential to its health. The soil becomes less fertile as a result of these bacteria being exposed to the sun.

Ben Raskin, head of agroforestry and horticulture at the UK’s Soil Association, explains that farmers need to reconsider technology’s place in agriculture. This includes buying new farm machinery. These are seed planters that use tiny holes rather than digging lengthy trenches with a large blade. But ultimately, Mr. Raskin adds, individuals might need to shift their attention away from surface-level fixes and delve a little deeper. According to scientists, only 10% of soil life has reportedly been identified thus far. In an endeavor to give farmers the finest nutrients for their land, understanding the composition of soil may give rise to entirely new enterprises. Reverting to basic, time-tested methods can produce intriguing, even revolutionary, ideas.