3 Enlightening Things I learned About the importance of Soil from Dale Strickler

Healthy soil is key to sustaining life on Earth and the importance of soil can not be understated. While more and more people are starting to see the need for soil restoration, there is little understanding of how it can be accomplished. Dale Strickler is a soil health expert with a knack for making dirt exciting – yeah, you heard me right, exciting! He’s a true pioneer in the field of regenerative agriculture, with a passion for nurturing the Earth back to its prime condition.

Dale’s insights and advice are like gold for anyone who wants to master the art of soil cultivation. He’s not about throwing jargon around; he’s all about practical wisdom that you can actually use in your landscape designs. His experience spans over two decades and he’s got a knack for connecting the dots between soil health, climate change, and creating a sustainable world. Dale’s teachings emphasize how healthy soil can be a game-changer in combating climate issues.

Restoring your Soils & the Tools you need to Heal You Damaged Soil

Dale Strickler joined PITH + VIGOR’s Garden Makers Skill Sessions to help us understand why our soil is important, a system for repairing it and to debunk the biggest myths about soil improvement. In his talk – Restoring Soils & the Tools You Need to Heal Your Damaged Soil” he presents a “how to” manual for soil restoration.
Dale addresses the chemical, physical, and biological principles behind soil function. He presents practices that can be used to regenerate soil, techniques and strategies for remediating contaminated soil, and agriculture systems both past and present that build soil. (i.e. from the ancient chinampas systems of Mexico to the permaculture and regenerative farming systems of today).

3 Enlightening Things I learned From Dale About the Importance of Soil (with Excerpts!):

1) Root Exudation – The heart of Soil Science

Root exudation is the process where plant roots release a mix of compounds into the soil. These compounds are like the appetizers, drinks, and dance moves that attract a lively crowd of beneficial microorganisms.

Think of it as plants being the ultimate hosts, providing a buffet of carbohydrates, amino acids, and other organic goodies. It’s like they’re saying, “Hey microbes, come and hang out with us! We’ve got some snacks for you!” This friendly gesture creates a bustling microbial community around the roots, forming what’s known as the rhizosphere – the hotspot where plant roots and microorganisms mingle.

Why do plants throw this extravagant underground gathering? Because it’s a win-win scenario. The microorganisms get a tasty treat, and in return, they offer services like breaking down nutrients, improving soil structure, and even protecting plants from harmful pathogens.

Just like landscape design require a careful balance of elements, root exudation is about maintaining a healthy harmony between plants and their microbial pals.

2) What do Healthy Roots Look Like?

Did you know that healthy roots look like dreadlocks? This is because all the sugars that are leaving the roots and feeding the microbes (though exudation) produce glues. The glues make the roots thick and a little sticky – So when you have a root system like this (above) – you can tell, just from looking at it, there is very good microbial activity in the rhizosphere.

The microbial by-products are also feeding the plant minerals and compounds that enhance the flavor of plants. (It is a two-way street!). Those same compounds, when they get into our gut, feed our gut microbes with compounds that are prebiotic in nature.

3) Plants Have Immune Systems!

Plants actually have an immune systems just like humans – but their pharmacy is in the soil. Even though a plant’s immune system is different than ours, it uses many of the same compounds.

Mnemonic acid and salicylic acid (which is aspirin) are immune compounds that both humans and plants use. When we create a very active and healthy biology in the soil, the soil microbes produce antibiotics that are taken up by the plants. It is a pretty simple formula – Healthy soil >> Healthier Roots >> Heathlier Plants >> Healthier humans – this is the importance of soil.

“There are a couple persistent myths about soil restoration. The first is that it is a nearly impossible task, and takes multiple lifetimes if not centuries to accomplish. The second is that restoring soil is an expensive process that takes economic sacrifice. This session goes beyond the “just buy a lot of manure or compost and dump it on your fields” mentality to demonstrate fast, effective, and most importantly profitable means of making better soil using the same natural processes by which soil was originally formed, but with gentle nudges from modern knowledge and technology.” 

-Dale Strickler

There is actually a third (and even more interesting) myth – but I’ll let him go into that in the presentation. 😉

Q: What is “Restoring Soils & the Tools You Need to Heal Your Damaged Soil”?

A: A system to restore your soil so your garden will grow strong and healthy without as much work and chemical input.

Whether you really understand that healthy soil is key to sustaining life on Earth or are just getting started, at the very least, your garden will be prettier and healthier if your soil is in good shape. This session will inspire you to take action and gain understanding about what you can do.

This will help you:

  • Explain the importance of soil. What are the social, health, and environmental consequences of growing food in poor soil.
  • Understand how food scarcity and degraded soil has dire consequences for the human species.
  • Employ agriculture systems (drawing from both ancient to modern technology) to build your soil.
  • Go beyond the “just dump a LOT of compost on” ideas proposed to gardeners. Instead focus on managing soil to be productive without needing to transport large amounts of organic material from some other place.
  • Explore solar capture, rainfall capture, mineral cycles, gas exchange and soil microbes.

You’ll learn how to:

  • Remediate your contaminated soil through a variety of techniques
  • Create systems that will regenerate your soil
  • The science of how plants, soil, microbes, and mycorrhizae and fungi work together.
  • Reverse desertification and increase water retention in your soil
  • Increase the nutritional value of the fruits and vegetables that you grow
  • Sequester more carbon in your garden

How Dale Strickler came up with this system:

The strategies are based on Dale’s lifetime of farming and ranching. Dale has first hand experience with rebuilding his soil on his Kansas as well as an extensive career as an educator and agronomist. Dale Strickler is also the author of two other books – Managing Pasture and The Drought-Resilient Farm. He is a leader in the soil health movement and an expert agronomist for Green Cover Seed, the nation’s top cover crop-specific seed company. Strickler holds degrees in agronomy from Kansas State University and has taught at the college level for over 15 years.

These strategies are applicable and effective for every garden and landscape. They help you get the most out of the time, effort and resources you invest in your yard.

Restoring your soils and the Tools You need to heal your damaged soil”  is a 55-minute video taught by Dale Strickler to the PITH + VIGOR community. Dale is an expert on soil, it’s importance, building healthy soil and restoring degraded soil. He is the author of The Complete Guide to Restoring Your Soil, (a companion book to this talk) where he presents the science of soil, along with proven methods for restoring depleted soil with agricultural practices from around the world.

>>>Join PITH + VIGOR for  Restoring Soils & the Tools You Need to Heal Your Damaged Soil with Dale Strickler. <<<

Comments from people who have seen “Restoring Your Soils and The Tools You Need to Heal Your Damaged Soil”:

“I was blown away by Dale Strickler’s presentation. I got so much out of it and am so grateful I had the opportunity to listen to him. Thank you for putting this together for us.” 

– Winifried C. in Canada

I had to leave before he finished and I am excited to hear the rest. Thank you for the recording and thank you so much for organizing this for us!

-Amy R in Pittsburg, PA

Strickler gives us the tools we need to heal our damaged soil. His book should be on the book shelf of every soil scientist, farmer, rancher, gardener, politician, landscaper and informed citizen.

-Hank Will, Editor at large Mother Earth News

>>>Join PITH + VIGOR for  Restoring Soils & the Tools You Need to Heal Your Damaged Soil with Dale Strickler.

Purchase Dale’s companion book:

Gardeners have an opportunity to help reverse the impacts of climate change. But only if we know what to do – knowing more about the science of soils is one way we can learn to do better. 


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