Didi Pershouse, Peter Donovan, and the Soil Carbon Coalition have just completed a new teaching manual titled: “Understanding Soil Health and Watershed Function.”
The materials are designed to provide a foundation upon which participants can build:
• A basic understanding of the important (but invisible) biological work that happens throughout any functional landscape, and its connection to the water cycle
• Confidence and capacity to present these concepts to others and engage the community in larger projects—with some experience of how to engage others in fruitful and respectful discussions using shared listening time
• An increased sense of curiosity and hopefulness about the changes our world is going through
• An increased sense of agency in managing processes in agricultural and other landscapes: knowing the kinds of questions to ask in order to discover what is needed and how to tell if it is working
The investigations and activities in the manual can form the basis for projects in which teachers, students, and their communities learn how to:
• Approach complexity in agricultural systems by looking at relationships between physical, chemical, and biological processes within whole landscapes
• See opportunities and set realistic goals for functional change on a piece of land (faster water infiltration rates, higher net profits, increased stability of topsoil, longer season of green growth, etc.)
• Work with natural processes to achieve those goals
• Work effectively in groups to synergize ideas, support each other’s learning, and engage community members
• Practice the skills needed to collect and map baseline data and then monitor actual change over time in soil health and watershed function
The goal of the manual is for teachers and students to understand three main ideas:
- Soil structure has a huge influence on the water cycle, which makes life on land possible for humans and other species.
- Other species create soil structure through work that they do. Most of that work is done by plants and microbes and is easy to overlook.
- Human decisions about land management dramatically affect other species’ capacity to do their work. If we understand the work of other species, we can participate in it and have a positive impact.
HMI is pleased that this educational material is now available to share with teachers and students. Visit HMI’s Free Download page to see other available educational materials.
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