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Hi-tech fixes aren’t the only way to save our soil

By Letters
Field being ploughed with a horse
‘Old seed types and old methods of production are dying out or fading from memory.’ Photograph: Adrian Arbib/Alamy

I read George Monbiot’s piece on soil (The secret world beneath our feet is mind-blowing – and the key to our planet’s future, 7 May) and was impressed by both the poetry and the factuality of his plea to protect it. Indeed, yes, if we lose this, then the future of humankind is well and truly compromised. But once again we are presented with various hi-tech or alternative magic bullets (in this case “fermentation” and “stockfree organic”). This is the same as with climate change, where various tech fixes are also given centre stage more often than not. I am not saying that we shouldn’t be investigating innovative solutions, but we should also make a point of holding on to tried-and-tested ways.

Yes, chemical-intensive, monoculture production is destined to eventually fail, but if we only look for super-innovative solutions and those turn out not to deliver, then we will be really stuck. As it is, old seed types and old methods of production are dying out or fading from memory. My suggestion is that we hold on to that, reserving at least one-third of production for traditional methods. Then, if the magic bullet fails, we still have the old ways to fall back on.

But I am not hopeful. I see a scenario where intensively farmed crops fail, the magic bullets don’t work, and the only knowledge that we have is cloud computing and internet algorithms. That won’t save us from hunger.
Alan Mitcham
Cologne, Germany

Have an opinion on anything you’ve read in the Guardian today? Please email us your letter and it will be considered for publication.

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