Monica Lamb-Yorski photo

RANCH MUSINGS: Forget dinosaurs; working to eliminate plant blindness

Decades ago, research showed that modern civilization is dangerously ignorant of plant life

A couple of decades ago, research showed that modern civilization is dangerously ignorant of plant life, even if we eat parts of them daily. This phenomenon has been called “plant blindness.”

We hear that one million plant and animal species are at risk. All of you who went to UBC will have seen the article that inspired this column from the fall edition of the “Trek” the UBC Alumni publication.

Too much attention is being paid only to the “at risk” big animal species like Rhinos. We have a fascination for dinosaurs and children probably know more about them than any plants that are at risk these days.

Connections with nature, some studies say, have beneficial effects on cognition and learning. As we lose these connections, we miss learning about the environment that supports our lives.

I think I grew up “plant blind” and that is not all. While I studied biology in high school and first year university, I was diverted into international relations and politics. Later at UBC I was fortunate to participate in an interdisciplinary seminar in ecology and for a few years.

READ MORE: Revolutions in agriculture need to be local

I had the inspiration of one of the world’s leading ecologists, Buzz Holling, who just passed away.

But I was really blind to the small critters in our soil.

For those of you who want to pursue more information on plant blindness check out the journal Plants, People, Planet.

But those big plants and animals are all we have to come to know. If we are blind to many of the living things we can see, what about the microscopic plants and animals in the soil. Millions exist right under our feet.

This leads me to the upcoming Soil Health Conference in the Cariboo in January.

Some local people have invested a lot of time on behalf of all those interested, especially farmers and ranchers.

Here are the details following. This conference was designed to bring in a world class expert and mix her with local experts or “knowledgeable persons” to get us on track to understanding this underworld below our fields and pastures.

With understanding and practical advice, we can move forward in our stewardship. This is the link to register: Or call Ang at 1-604-243-8357.

READ MORE: The big test and how do we prepare for it?

And here is the description of the courses designed for agriculture producers and other interested members of our communities … https://www.eventbrite.ca/e/bc-interior-soils-conference-building-soil-health-tickets-81077522051. The dates are January 16-17. Sign up today.

About the event featuring soils expert Kris Nichols:

• Regenerating Soils with Soil Biology: Soil regeneration is different from soil sustainability, which is maintaining a degraded resource.

Soil biological activity is key to regenerative processes. The types and roles of different microbial communities will be described.

• Principles and Production Practices to Regenerate Soils: The soil regeneration principles are universal while the tools vary across systems, and the particular tools relevant to the participants will be highlighted.

• Linkages between Soil Health and Human Health: The linkages between soil health and human health will be discussed to determine if how we grow our food changes food quality.

This will go beyond looking at a reduction in pesticides but will also discuss the importance of macro and micro-nutrients, as well as proteins, amino acids, vitamins, antioxidants, polyphenolics, fatty acids and other vitality important biomolecules.

• Plus: Other guest speakers and producers panels.

David Zirnhelt is a rancher and member of the Cariboo Cattlemen’s Association. He is also chair of the Advisory Committee for the Applied Sustainable Ranching Program at TRU.


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