Mycorrhizal fungi and why soil health is vital to all life on earth (interview with Dr. Kris Nichols of Pachaterrae)
This is a conversation on Green Dreamer with Kaméa Chayne, a podcast exploring environmental regeneration and intersectional sustainability from ideas to life. Subscribe to Green Dreamer on iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher, or any podcast app to stay informed and up to date on our latest episodes.
Dr. Kris Nichols (@glomalin) is a world-renowned leader in the movement to regenerate soils for healthy food, healthy people, and a healthy planet, and she's also the Chief Scientist at Pachaterrae (@pachaterrae), a soil carbon measurement and carbon offset aggregation for agricultural producers.
As Chief Scientist at Rodale Institute, she oversaw numerous trials on organic agriculture, with a focus on the impacts of cropping and grazing systems on soil microbiology, nutrient cycling, and soil aggregation to improve soil health and water quality.
On this podcast episode, Kris sheds light on the vital role of mycorrhizal fungi in indirectly supporting resilience against climate change; the importance of biodiversity in creating synergies that strengthen the health of our ecosystems; how soil microbiology impacts the bioavailability of the nutrients within our foods; and more.
To start, get a glimpse below into the conversation between Kris and Green Dreamer Podcast's host, Kaméa Chayne.
On building resilience against climate change:
"[Regenerative agriculture] is really critical to being able to build up organic matter in our soils—not just for taking carbon dioxide out of our atmosphere and putting it into the soil as organic matter, but also for allowing us to be able to thrive with the climate and weather patterns that we're currently seeing and are going to see for at least the next one-hundred years."
On why biodiversity is key to maintaining healthy ecosystems:
"The biggest key to [regenerating healthy soils] is helping to enhance the diversity and complexity of the whole biological system.
Going back to mycorrhizal fungi: There's this key relationship between a cyanobacterium and a fungus, but when it got onto land, that relationship actually relied upon a number of different organisms to get it to work—both macroscopic and microscopic organisms.
Other bacteria, fungi, microscopic insects—all of these things are synergistic, and diversity is a really big key to understanding how we can play into, enhance, and utilize the efficiencies of those synergies.”
On how deteriorating soil health has impacted human health:
"Many first world countries now are operating under a paradigm in which individuals are suffering from obesity and malnutrition at the same time.
Our gut microbiome is a complex, synergistic environment, and how we process food in our gut microbiome is important for how our bodies are getting various types of mineral nutrients."
Kris’s final words of wisdom:
"Go back to education. Read, learn, talk, share, discuss."
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