Soil affects human health

Human Health is Built From the Ground Up

Justin PlattBlog, Human Health

Soil health, plant health for human health. It’s right there on our logo and at the core of everything we do. 

Why? Because human wellbeing can only happen when soils are healthy. It is a direct relationship. Here’s why:

Let’s start by taking a look at the point to which we have arrived. In the last 50+ years, intensive, industrial farming practices have taken their toll on the world’s soils:

  • Soils have become poisoned and depleted
  • Pesticides and herbicides (developed from chemical warfare) are sprayed on crops and fields
  • Toxic chemicals affect the nervous systems of Earth’s living creatures – insects, fish, birds, animals and humans
  • Other small organisms are also killed
  • Nitrogen leaching occurs when there are no nitrogen-fixing bacteria
  • Extensive irrigation washes minerals away from the roots
  • In addition, plants that get their water supply from irrigation don’t need to form long roots, which damages symbiotic relationships in the soil and with soil microorganisms
  • And the list goes on …

Doesn’t paint a good picture for the environment, does it? One also has to question the effects of industrial agriculture on human health. 

Nutrition is the foundation of a healthy body 

It’s no secret that there is a direct connection between nutrition and optimal health. It’s a fact acknowledged by science, the medical world and ourselves. We all know how we feel after eating a healthy meal vs. an unhealthy one.

What some people may not be aware of (or think about) is that there is also a direct relationship between minerals in the soil and the minerals in the body. This is because the soil’s mineral content determines the mineral content of the food that grows in it or feeds off it. 

A recent article in the European Journal of Soil Science discussed the link between soil security and human health. It states that “soil has a considerable effect on human health, whether those effects are positive or negative, direct or indirect.” As an important source of nutrients in our food supply, as well as medicines such as antibiotics, society must value the role soil plays in creating human health. This value is demonstrated in the way that the soils are managed or treated, in agriculture and other industries. 

As the world population and demands continue to grow, so does the need to produce plentiful, high-quality food. In order for this to happen, the soil needs to be able to pass nutrients up the food web into plants, as well as act as a purifier of toxins. The use of harmful agrichemicals disrupts this system. 

Chemical agriculture becomes a vicious cycle of ‘chemical warfare’. When chemicals are applied, organisms die or fight back and mutate. This requires the application of more chemicals, and a system that becomes out of control. Like a drug user, the plant becomes dependent on its supplier, breaking the symbiotic relationship with mycorrhizae and rhizobium. As a result, soil microbes die from a lack of food. 

Read more about the link between plant health and soil microbial health

In turn, this disruption of the equilibrium in the soil disrupts the equilibrium of the human bodies which feed off it.

At Zylem, we know that the soil is one of our most important resources. Like the organs in the body, each different organism in the soil has a role to play in making the whole ecosystem survive. That’s why farmers need to focus on building healthy, well-balanced soils that can support a diversity of life – and thus human health.

Get in touch with the Zylem team to start implementing sustainable soil health solutions. Contact us on 033 347 2893 or send your enquiry to