The health of animals, plants, soil, water, atmosphere, and humans are interlinked in numerous ways.
Population growth and technical and social changes have always exerted pressure on environmental quality. However, we are experiencing an unprecedented change in the rate and scale of human impacts on the environment. Improving the quality of life for humans and other animal species requires a holistic and integrated framework to seek multidisciplinary solutions to global environmental quality challenges. The connections among soil health, environmental quality, animal health, and human health require an integrated approach to move toward a more efficient, sustainable, and nutrient-rich system that affords protection of all health components.
"The Nexus of Soils, Plants, Animals, and Humans" is the title of a book that "summarizes the current state of research of these important issues and provides a comprehensive treatise of the global importance of soils to humankind.
The interconnectedness of soils, plants, animals, humans, and the environment that surrounds us is obvious to those of us who work in the realm of forage-livestock systems. It's not as well appreciated by some segments of the public. And, current misconceptions about sustainability and what things are damaging our environment and our human health makes this section on Health particularly important and compelling for educators, researchers, and public policy developers.
Separating the components of "total health" seems a bit counter-productive, but understanding the components can be important as long as we remember to work at putting the pieces together as we learn more about each area.
The synopsis of the above-mentioned book provides the essence of the issue:
"... that soil- and human health are intricately connected, because healthy soils produce healthy crops, which in turn nourish humans and animals, allowing for their health and productivity.
Soil quality directly influences the quality and quantity of food that can be produced, as soils provide essential macro- and micronutrients and attenuate environmental pollutants. On the other hand, these same pollutants, thus concentrated in soils, may cause soils to become toxic and degraded. Soils (and their crops) may also be responsible for exposure to pests and pathogens, while, at the same time, providing drug substances and may even suppress diseases.
Soil quality is vital on a global scale, as more than 800 million people around the world are undernourished, implying that their intake of food is insufficient to meet their daily energy needs, and the deficiency of essential micronutrients is even more widespread. Nearly one-third of the world’s population is affected by zinc deficiency, while iron deficiency affects nearly 3 billion people.
Climate change has been shown to affect animal and human health, and soils are intricately linked to the atmosphere by being both a source and sink of greenhouse gases. Soils are the largest active terrestrial reservoir of organic carbon and its sequestration in soils can be enhanced by improved management practices."
Looking for simple and low tech ways to manage land and activities to mitigate pollution of surface and groundwater near us will benefit our animal, environment, human and soil in many ways.
The following subtopics will be addressed with respect to the current narrative and belief systems, counter-arguments and supportive research, and how this revised understanding could fundamentally change our world and the health and well-being of its inhabitants.
Total, Integrated Health