As we set up our categories for suggested donations this Arizona Gives Day, we remembered back to our roots and named them after our first membership donation categories. With that, we honor soil by making it the first category. As Ron Stein pointed out nearly 20 years ago, we couldn’t do any of it without good soil.
Perspective of a Soil Scientist
by Ron Stein
I remember when I received my first issue of “The Creekside Almanac” last year. I enjoyed the style of the writing and stories painting pictures for us of the authors’ observations of riparian areas, plants, and ecosystems. When I saw the last page, my mind became focused on the need to consider a contribution to this worthy organization.
The four categories for the amount of suggested contributions are listed as Soil ($1-10), Seed ($11-50), Roots ($51-100), Trees ($101+). I said to myself, “OK – it sounds like a great representation of the ecosystems’ dimensions, if we consider the human factor as benefiting from the physical/biological resource.” These four categories represent a seed bed for birth, growth, and development, and the stately trees certainly represents this concept.
When I first looked at the membership categories for recommended contributions, I was curious why the “tree” category was the most prestigious. Sure, trees are something you can see and are stately, tall and regal, but just like an honorable government having the support of the people, this occurs because of the basic support of healthy soils. It is this “support” that I use as analogy to compare the soil supporting trees. I regard the soil as the base support for the upper tiers of the biological and human dimensions; therefore, as a soil scientist, I did become focused on the soil category.
So, why did I get hung up on the name of a category rather than the amount to contribute? Sometimes analytical people like to pick and probe. I thought of the category first rather than the amount to contribute. The reason for my bringing this subject up is intended only to point out the importance of healthy soils to support the biological and human dimensions of ecosystem management.
Soil is the foundation of the ecosystem. A healthy soil accepts, infiltrates, holds, and releases water and nutrients, promotes root growth, and provides suitable biotic habitat. Soil microbes become established in a healthy soil and convert minerals and organic materials into nutrients that sustain life above ground. Seeds become established, roots take hold, and trees grow to provide food and homes for wildlife and sanctify human needs. My intention is not, as an overzealous soil scientist, merely as a lobbyist for just and attribute of an ecosystem, but rather to remind ourselves of the importance of healthy soils to support trees.
I did finally make a decision to contribute. At the heart of the issue, it is not the amount we give or the category we designate, but rather it is the vision that we all provide in order to examine ecological aspects of ecosystem management.