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Applied Soil Technology Grads In Demand
by Mary Leete
Maharishi University of Management, USA - mummagazine Translate This Article
27 November 2014
Graduates of the Applied Soil Technologies track of Maharishi University of Management's Sustainable Living department are finding themselves in demand worldwide. Since August 2014, Molly Haviland (BS, class of 2013) has taught a two-week course on ''Living Soils'' held at Corvinus University in Hungary, followed by a tour of the Carpathian Mountains in Romania, taking soil samples from pastures, hay fields and forests that have never been touched by tillage or chemicals. She also spent two weeks in Montana consulting with ranchers on employing soil food web methods and ''mob grazing'' techniques with livestock. Before that, she worked on building large-scale aerobic thermal compost which will be applied as aerobic compost tea to corn, soy, alfalfa and hay fields on two organic farms in Minnesota. All in just two months.
Without Healthy Soil, We Are Nothing
Molly is considered an expert in living soils after her training in Fairfield, Iowa as part of the Sustainable Living program at MUM. Her expertise includes educating growers in determining which beneficial soil organisms are missing from soils, creating compost and compost teas that target missing nutrients and microorganisms, thus restoring health and vitality to the soil.
''Not all compost is created equal,'' says Molly. 'Our goal at the Living Soil Lab is to redefine Compost-with a capital ''C''—so that growers associate a quality product which significantly changes the growing environment. Using compost and regenerative planting methods, growers experience disease resistant and highly productive plants that taste wonderful because they are full of minerals and nutrients. ''Compost grows food that is medicine,'' Molly added. ''Without healthy soil, we are nothing.''
Curbing Greenhouse Gas Emissions
Josef Beichler (BS, 2013) and Tara O'Brien (BS, 2013) are also working abroad. They currently manage a research farm in Costa Rica, testing 18 types of agriculture, 12 that are regenerative and 6 that are chemical conventional. They are partnered with the Rodale Institute and funded by The Carbon Underground. This long-term research project is designed to test the claim that soils could sequester over 100 percent of annual CO2 emissions, reversing climate change through the switch to regenerative farming methods.
''We are currently in a critical transition period in human existence;'' Josef explains. ''On one side, complete collapse of our way of life and the security of our food, water, and health; and on on the other a regenerative future full of abundance. It will not be determined by how clean and renewable our energy is and how much we curb greenhouse gas emissions, but rather by what we do with the carbon already in our atmosphere. That is why we are doing this research, to see if agriculture is the solution, rather than the main contributor of climate change and global warming.''
Bringing Chemically Farmed Soils Back to Health
Jessica Smith (BS, 2013 and Eco Farmer Certification, 2014) is currently working with Vail Dixon, who started Simple Soil Solutions, a private soil health consulting business and working farm that uses natural methods of soil remediation to bring chemically farmed and eroded soils back to health and productivity. Dixon has been using cattle in a holistic high density mob grazing system along with stabilized soil microbes, supportive organic soil amendments, and seeding with a diversity of species to restore life to the soil.
Jessica mixes and applies the stabilized microbes to the fields and is developing an educational manual that will be part of a video series which will teach this technique to others. Jessica will also be working with local schools to bring awareness about the status of the Earth's ecosystems and giving students the opportunity to get involved.
Dr. Elaine Ingham, World Famous Soil Biologist
''Many of our graduates from the Applied Soil Technologies track are working on leading edge projects both in the US and abroad,'' says Diana Krystofiak, Director of Career Services for MUM's Sustainable Living department. ''We attribute this level of success to the uniqueness of our program. Our students are under the guidance of Dr. Elaine Ingham, a world-renowned soil biologist, President of Soil Foodweb, Inc. and adjunct professor at MUM.''
From January 2011 through 2013, Dr. Elaine Ingham served as Chief Scientist at the Rodale Institute which is a world leader in researching organic farming techniques. Scientists at Rodale Institute have been credited with demonstrating that organic farming is capable of feeding the world—both now and in the future. Dr. Ingham also founded Soil Foodweb in 1996, helping farmers all over the world to grow more resilient crops by understanding and improving their soil life.
In addition to teaching classes at MUM, Dr. Ingham is also instrumental in helping to place students in internships. ''I expect a constant flow of trained students from MUM that we can place in internships throughout the world, so they can obtain practical, hands-on application of managing soil life to improve plant production,'' Dr. Ingham said. ''MUM students do very well in these programs, because they are very interactive, inquisitive, and interested, most likely because of Consciousness-Based education.''
The block system at MUM makes it easy for students to take a few months off for internship work during the school year, and not just rely on summer vacations. ''We are happy with our internship program because it gives students hands-on, real world experience and exposes them to professionals in their chosen field.'' says Diana Krystofiak.
Living Soil Compost Laboratory
Students also get practical work experience at the Living Soil Compost Laboratory, a micro-enterprise founded under the guidance of Dr. Ingham. Currently the lab is run by Zach Wright, a 2014 MUM graduate. Under Zach's leadership, he's taken the products outside of the local realm and into 15 states. ''The feedback has been overwhelmingly positive,'' says Zach. ''There are very few soil amendments on the market that verify biological activity so you know the health of your product before you get it.''
At the Living Soil Compost Lab, livingsoil.net, Zach works with four work-study students to create and sell compost and compost teas specifically formulated for individual fields all over the US. Students assess soil to determine missing nutrients and microorganisms, then create a specific compost for their clients. Zach also conducts workshops, trainings, and is an active consultant.
''We bought our compost and compost tea from the Living Soil Compost Lab last summer, and while all of our crops did very well, our crop of cucumbers was extraordinary!'' exclaimed Steve McLaskey, manager of MUM Farms. ''From one 90-foot row, we harvested between 800-1000 lbs! And normally we pick cucumbers for four to six weeks, but this year we're still picking some, even after four months!''
Cutting Edge Jobs that Help Change the World
''By the time the student graduates from this program, he or she already has a good amount of professional experience in this field,'' says Diana. ''The cutting edge knowledge they learned in the Applied Soil track puts them in high demand.''
''I wake up every morning excited about life,'' says Jessica. ''And ready to go out there and be the change I wish to see. I am thankful to have experienced a place like MUM, where my quest to seek the highest was nourished and encouraged.''
To learn more about the Applied Soil Technologies track in the Sustainable Living department at Maharishi University, please see the Maharishi University of Management website.
Copyright © 2014 Maharishi University of Management
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