Soil “health” is a metaphor that captures an essential parallel between soils and our own health: soils that are poorly-cared for will have shorter lifespans and require increasing levels of intervention to deliver the functions we require. Many agricultural practices common in California and worldwide degrade soil health rather than maintain or improve it, threatening long-term agricultural productivity. Healthy soil promotion practices could play a major role in addressing key environmental challenges in California, including reducing harmful nutrient losses and increasing water security. Professor Bowles will discuss cases in California on how farmers are working to build soil health and how this impacts the benefits we derive from soils. Professor Bowles highlights how consideration of soil, nutrient, and water challenges together, rather than separately, would better reflect the actual agro-ecological processes and potentially lead to better outcomes for California agriculture.
Timothy Bowles is an Assistant Professor of Agroecology/Sustainable Agriculture in the Bowles PhotoDepartment of Environmental, Science, Policy and Management at the University of California Berkeley. The primary question motivating his research is: How can reliance on ecological processes create productive, resilient, and healthy agricultural systems? He received his PhD in Ecology from UC Davis and was a USDA AFRI Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of New Hampshire’s Department of Natural Resources and Environment before joining UC Berkeley.