You Failed NCLEX Exams: What to Do Next?

You Failed NCLEX Exams: What to Do Next?

You Failed NCLEX Exams: What to Do Next?

So, you studied hard, took the NCLEX exams, and waited in agony for the results, only to find out that you failed the NCLEX. What a disappointing outcome. By now, you feel like breaking down because of this result, but before you do, wipe your tears, hold your head up high, and retake the exams. But how can you retake this test? What is the next best thing to do?

A Silverlining

Learning that you failed the exams for the first time is probably one of the disappointments in your life that you will not forget. Looking back at the hours you spent studying, preparing, sleeping that you missed, and countless hours of reviewing that all came down to failing NCLEX is a heartbreaking ordeal. But with all of this, there’s always a light at the end of the tunnel. Retaking the exams is your next best option. 

What to Do After You Failed the NCLEX Exams

If you are reading this part of the post, then chances are, you have failed the exams. But, do not worry. You can still retake the exams as long as you follow these steps and do your best next round. 

Understand Why You Failed

Failing the NCLEX exams is not the end of the world; although it is a bit traumatic, you must gather yourself and try again. Understanding why you failed is crucial at this point. Failing does not mean that you are dumb or stupid. Most importantly, failing this exam does not mean you won’t make a great nurse. The truth is, some of the best nurses in the field had their fair shares of failures. So, do not beat yourself up on this one. Some people are not good at taking tests, maybe you did prepare for this, but your nerves got the better of you. Either way, it is okay that you failed. 

Process your NCLEX Results

A single day can make a big difference in your ability to process the results of your NCLEX exams. Taking the following steps is crucial, but before you do, take time to go through your results and reflect. Of course, there might be some feelings of discouragement, but don’t give up yet. Give yourself some time, and evaluate how you feel before moving forward. Once you feel better, proceed to the next step. 

Select a Date for the Following NCLEX Exams

After reflecting on your emotions (and maybe crying hysterically on your pillow), take time to educate yourself on retaking the test. Keep in mind that you can take the NCLEX exams at least eight times per year with 45 days waiting period between attempts. So, all in all, there is hope for you. 

The National Council will send you a notice about the options for retaking the exams. If you want, check their website to find out the details in the re-application process for this. But, if by chance you feel lost, ask your school to assist you with the process. Of course, the council will also inform them that you failed the exams, so it is best to work with your school for this step. However, if you want to do it yourself, you can visit NCSBN.org for more information.

Your NCLEX Study Plan is Essential

After securing the date for retaking the exam, check how much time you have left to study for the NCLEX. Come up with a strategy so you can nail the exams this time. Check how you prepared in your first attempt; what did you do that helped you? See what study habit works best for you, and be clear about how you alter your approach in this next attempt. Be sure to have a proper amount of study time too. You can also use the NCLEX Candidate Performance Result or CPR to determine which areas you need to focus more on. It will also help as your study guide since you already know which topics you are weakest at and those that are not.

Study Plans, Study Plans

Creating a study plan and calendar is helpful. Writing down the details and activities in this calendar will give you timeframes as well. Find the focus of your study and dive deep into the areas you are not confident in. Be sure to include test strategies and practice questions as well. Include at least five days for studying with two days for rest. Keep your study hours to not more than 6 hours a day. Make sure to have breaks in between for 45 to 60 minutes. However, you create your study plan, be concrete on following through with them until you are ready for the exams. 

Go and Retake the Exams

As you enter your test room, relax. Have confidence in yourself. You already know the dynamics of the exams; you studied and prepared for it, so you got this. Don’t think of the failure you did, do not dwell in the past. Focus on how you tackle the test questions and apply the strategies that you learned. Be mindful of your pace, and always understand each question before answering. Do not rush or panic. Take it easy, pray, and do your best! 

So what if you failed the NCLEX exams

Failing an important exam such as NCLEX can be heartbreaking, but do not panic. You have all the options and time to get it right. But this does not mean you should fail every time you try! So you failed; we have done this one way or another. It is not an excuse, but it is not a reason not to keep trying either. You have all the access you need to pass the exams, use them wisely, study well, and most of all, keep trying! Passing the NCLEX is within your reach, so don’t ever give up! We hope that this post sheds light on your path, good luck!

 

5 House Hunting Tips for Travel Nurses

5 House Hunting Tips for Travel Nurses

5 House Hunting Tips for Travel Nurses

One of the essential things to secure as a travel nurse is your accommodation or housing. Whether you are a seasoned travel nurse or just starting on your first assignment, you must settle in a place that is already furnished, so you don’t have to worry about where to sleep, cook or take a shower after shifts. It would be best to secure a place to stay during the duration of your work, and these house hunting tips for travel nurses are the answer.

House Hunting Tips for Travel Nurses 101

Looking for suitable accommodation, apartment, room, or housing during your assignment as a travel nurse can be stressful. But the question is, would you prefer looking for accommodation and receiving a stipend? Or let the agency take care of it, so you don’t have to worry? Are you bringing your pets along? – indeed, looking for a house or apartment to accommodate all your needs as a travel nurse is challenging. But, don’t worry, these tips can help you with that. 

Tip #1. Beware of “Too Good to be True” Offers

There are plenty of places to look for housing as a travel nurse, but you must be wary of where you are looking. One of the most common places to look for is Craigslist. No doubt about it, there are many good sources of for-rent units on this website, and there are also bad ones. How can you distinguish the difference? If the offer is too good, too cheap, and almost impossible to believe in, then you might skip that one because it could be a scam. A good source will always have positive feedback and reasonable prices. If you find one that offers you cheap accommodation in a well-off location, then there is a chance that you are being baited for a scam. 

Tip #2. Look at ALL options.

You have plenty of options to choose from when it comes to housing and accommodation. However, it will also depend on your preference. It would be best if you checked out all your options first before deciding which one to pursue. 

Option A is staying at hotels. Plenty of hotels or motels offer long-term stays for 30 days, perfect for travel nurses like you. Low night rates and tax breaks are also provided if you book an extended stay. If this is the option you would like to take, be sure to call the hotel manager ahead to make arrangements. 

Option B, on the other hand, is staying on Airbnb locations. These are usually popular choices for many travel nurses and travelers alike. Not only do you get to pick the spot of the Airbnb, but you can also view the kind of bedrooms you will be using. As someone who travels for work, you may need one bedroom (if you are working alone) or something small for your convenience. You can also choose to live close to the facility you are working, or downtown where you can enjoy the sites and do exciting things after your shift. 

Whatever option you choose, make sure that the accommodation you pick suits all your needs. 

Tip #3. Find a Roommate or Work with One. 

Another good tip for house hunting as a travel nurse is finding a roommate with whom you can share the rent and save expenses. It could be a fellow travel nurse you are assigned with or a traveler staying in the accommodation for long-terms [1]. 

When choosing a location for work, check if you have relatives or friends living nearby. While having accommodation is excellent, you can also live with family or friends living near the facility you are working as a travel nurse. Of course, IF and only IF you are allowed to live with them. If not, choosing to have a place of your own is always a good idea. Besides, you don’t want to disturb anyone, especially if you are assigned on night shifts. 

Tip #4. Do Some Research Before Accepting a Job Offer.

As a travel nurse, you are often looking forward to your next assignment. However, it would be best if you also do your research before accepting any job [2]. 

First, understand what benefits you can get if the agency finds the accommodation for you. Many travel nurses utilize this option when it comes to housing needs. One of the benefits of this is that agencies can find you a suitable place to stay, especially if the work location does not have a lot of options to choose from. It also saves you time and energy looking for a place to stay. Using the ones provided by your agency is more practical. 

You must also understand what furnished means when it comes to finding a place to stay. When we say that the home is “furnished,” it means that it already has the amenities you need for the duration of your stay. This type of accommodation is helpful for travel nurses who do not like to bring furniture or housing necessities when traveling. Of course, every location to go to is different, and when they say furnished, the things included could be a dresser, dining table, couch, or chairs. Keep in mind that washers/dryers, microwaves, iron, and others are not always included. It would be best to visit the place or talk to the manager about what you would like to be included in your accommodation before you stay there. Otherwise, you will bring some necessities with you. 

Tip #5. Pet-friendly Housing is a Must. 

Some travel nurses love to travel with their dogs or cats. If you have a pet and would like to bring them along, be sure to remember this house hunting tip for travel nurses – check if the accommodation allows pets. 

If you want your agency to find you a place to stay, be upfront about bringing your pet/s with you. It would make your life easier, but if you are looking for a place to stay, calling and personally asking if pets are allowed in your housing is a must. 

These House Hunting Tips for Travel Nurses are Practical

Finding a suitable place to stay during your assignment as a travel nurse can be stressful, but if you want to save yourself from this predicament, it would be best to use your agency and let them find one for you. Of course, extra stipends are helpful, but be practical if you are stressed about looking for accommodations. 

 

EP 160: Would You Rather – Nursing Edition

EP 160: Would You Rather – Nursing Edition

Would You Rather – Nursing Edition

You’ve probably heard someone ask you a would you rather question once in your life, right? How did you answer back? Life is full of options to take, and we have to make the best choices when faced with situations. Sometimes, these choices are not as favorable, but we make them work. And how we wish that our life, work, and relationships are easy as making a “this or that” choice. Wouldn’t that be more manageable? 

In this episode, we will be taking a break from our usual topics and let a little loose in this one. Today we will ask our “Would You Rather” questions nurse edition and share our thoughts about them. We hope you find this episode entertaining as much as we enjoyed answering these questions. Check it out!

Would You Rather: Nursing Edition Questions

  1. Would you rather do admission or discharge?
  2. Would you rather work a 24-hour shift or oversleep and be late for your shift?
  3. Would you rather redo your nursing school program or high school?
  4. Would you rather be punched in the face or spit in the mouth?
  5. Would you rather have a rude, ungrateful patient or a patient with a difficult helicopter parent/family member?
  6. Would you rather be a nurse on a cruise ship or a nurse at a music festival? 
  7. Would you rather have co-workers love you and your manager hate you? Or have your co-workers hate you and your manager love you?
  8. Would you rather be ignorant and blissful or smart and never happy?
  9. Would you rather have a C. Diff vs. GI Bleed patient?
  10. Would you rather do the laundry or the dishes for the hospital?
  11. Would you rather be the strongest man on earth or the smartest man on earth?
  12. Would you rather get shit slapped in the face while trying to subdue a psych patient or have to give a bed bath to a patient with bed bugs? 
  13. Would you rather love your hospital, pay, co-workers and managers and hate your city and your life outside of work? Or would you rather hate your hospital, pay, co-workers and managers but love your city and life outside of work?
  14. Would you rather have spilled urine on your pants or trach sputum on your shirt?
  15. Would you rather have vomit in your hair and mouth? Or poop down your shirt?
  16. Would you rather live the rest of your life as a Buddhist monk or be followed continuously by the paparazzi?

Join us as we answer these questions! Watch the full Episode 160 by clicking here 👇

TIMESTAMP:

00:00 Intro
00:53 Plugs
02:57 Episode Intro
03:42 Admission or discharge?
05:12 Work a 24-hour shift or oversleep and be late for your shift?
06:24 Redo your nursing school program or high school?
07:50 Punched in the face or spit in the mouth?
09:14 A rude, ungrateful patient or a patient with a difficult helicopter parent/family member?
11:05 A nurse on a cruise ship or a nurse at a music festival?
12:54 Have co-workers love you and your manager hated you? Or have your co-workers hate you and your manager love you?
14:14 Ignorant and blissful or smart and never happy?
16:26 C. Diff vs. GI Bleed patient?
18:00 Do the laundry or the dishes for the hospital?
19:33 The strongest man on earth or the smartest man on earth?
20:16 Get shit slapped in the face while trying to subdue a psych patient or have to give a bed bath to a patient with bed bugs?
22:49 Love your hospital, pay, co-workers and managers and hate your city and your life outside of work? Or would you rather hate your hospital, pay, co-workers and managers but love your city and life outside of work?
24:11 Have spilled urine on your pants or trach sputum on your shirt?
26:02 Have vomit in your hair and mouth? Or poop down your shirt?
28:25 Live the rest of your life as a Buddhist monk or be followed continuously by the paparazzi?

 

Soil Degradation and Human Demise

Soil Degradation and Human Demise

Soil Degradation and Human Demise

Soil degradation and retrogression are two regressive evolution processes associated with the loss of equilibrium of stable soil. So we think that soil degradation and human demise are the end results if this kind of soil condition continues. 

Retrogression is primarily due to soil erosion and corresponds to a phenomenon where succession reverts the land to its natural physical state. 

  • Soil is lost due to erosion from wind and water— for example, rivers washing upland or wind blowing dirt away.

Degradation is due to the replacement of primary plant communities by secondary communities. This replacement modifies the humus composition and amount and affects the formation of the soil. 

  • It is directly related to human activity. 

What is Soil?

The definition of soil is “The unconsolidated mineral or organic material on the immediate surface of the Earth that serves as a natural medium for the growth of land plants.” [1].

Soil is one of the world’s most needed resources. We think about animals and this idea of going “plant only” but don’t understand that this might not be the best thing for ourselves and our environment. 

When was the last time, if ever, we thought about soil health? It isn’t something that comes to mind as necessary, even when we think about human survival. Ask yourself what do humans need to survive? Water and food.

Water is found in natural bodies of water, but where do you get food from? Soil is required for plants, animals require plants, and as humans, we need to eat animals and plants. 

The Soil Profile

As soils develop over time, layers (or horizons) form a soil profile. Most soil profiles cover the earth as two main layers—topsoil and subsoil.

Soil horizons are the layers in the soil as you move down the soil profile. A soil profile may have soil horizons that are easy or difficult to distinguish. [2]

Most soils exhibit 3 main horizons:

  • A horizon: humus-rich topsoil where nutrient, organic matter, and biological activity are highest (i.e., most plant roots, earthworms, insects, and micro-organisms are active). The A horizon is usually darker than other horizons because of the organic materials.
  • B horizon: clay-rich subsoil that is often less fertile than the topsoil but holds more moisture. It generally has a lighter color and less biological activity than the A horizon. Texture may be heavier than the A horizon too.
  • C horizon: underlying weathered rock (from which the A and B horizons form).
  • Some soils also have an O horizon, mainly consisting of plant litter accumulated on the soil surface.

The properties of horizons are used to distinguish between soils and determine land-use potential.

What is in the soil we use?

Soil contains air, water, minerals, and plant and animal matter, both living and dead. These soil components fall into two categories. 

  • In the first category are biotic factors—all the living and once-living things in the soil, such as plants and insects. 
  • The second category consists of abiotic factors, including all nonliving things—minerals, water, and air. 

The most common minerals found in soil that support plant growth are phosphorus, potassium, and nitrogen gas. Other less common minerals include calcium, magnesium, and sulfur. The biotic and abiotic factors in the soil make up the soil’s composition.

Minerals

The most significant component of soil is its minerals, accounting for about 45% of its volume. The most common ones are phosphorus, potassium, and nitrogen. While the less common ones are magnesium, calcium, and sulfur. 

Water

Water is the second essential component of soil. It makes up approximately 2% to 50% of the soil volume. It is vital for transporting nutrients to growing plants and soil organisms and facilitating biological and chemical decomposition. Soil water availability is the capacity of a particular soil to hold water available for plant use.

Organic Material 

Organic matter is the next primary component found in soils at levels of approximately 1% to 5%. This matter is derived from dead plants and animals and has a high capacity to hold onto and provide the essential elements and water for plant growth. An organic matter has a tall “plant available” water-holding ability and CEC, which can enhance the growth potential of soils. 

Gas

Gases and air are the following essential component of soil. They make up approximately 2% to 50% of the soil volume. Oxygen is necessary for root and microbe respiration, which helps support plant growth. 

Carbon dioxide and nitrogen gas are also crucial for belowground plant functions like nitrogen-fixing bacteria. If soils remain waterlogged (where gas is displaced by excess water), it can prevent root gas exchange, leading to plant death, a common concern after floods.

Microorganisms

Microorganisms are the final fundamental element of soils. They are present in the ground in high numbers but make up less than 1% of the soil volume. An estimate is that, one thimble full of topsoil hols more than 200,000 microbial organisms.
 
Earthworms and nematodes are the largest organisms found in soil. The smallest are algae, fungi, actinomycetes, and bacteria. Microorganisms are the primary decomposers of raw organic matter. Many decomposers eat up organic matter, water, and air. This is to recycle natural organic matter into humus, rich in plant nutrients [3].

Nutrient Depleted Soil

Nearly 99 percent of the world’s daily calorie intake can be traced back to the soil. The plants and animals we eat require soil to grow. Soil is vital for human survival, yet modern farming and agricultural practices quickly destroy it. 

Worldwide, one-third of the Earth’s soil is at least moderately degraded, and over half of the land used for agriculture has some soil degradation.

Due to intense, mismanaged farming, soil nutrients are declining. 

  • Nitrogen stores have decreased by 42 percent
  • Phosphorus by 27 percent
  • Sulfur by 33 percent. 

Plants require these nutrients for photosynthesis, enzymes, protein synthesis, and more to grow optimally.

As a result of declining soil fertility and selective breeding, the nutritional contents of some fruits, vegetables, and grains have also been compromised. 

  • In a 2004 study using USDA data, 43 garden crops were analyzed to compare nutritional content in 1950 versus 1999. Some nutrients were unchanged, but calcium, phosphorus, iron, riboflavin, and vitamin C were lower in 1999 compared to 1950, ranging from a 6 percent to 38 percent drop [4].

The protein content in corn declined from 30 percent to 50 percent from 1920 to 2001, while the starch content increased [5].

The magnesium content of vegetables and wheat has declined by up to 25 percent. There are trace minerals in vegetable crops. Minerals like manganese, zinc, copper, and nickel, have decreased over the last decades. Toxic minerals like aluminum, lead, and cadmium have increased [6].
 
Grains, soy, and corn are low on the nutrient density scale. Far below organ meats, meat, eggs, dairy, vegetables, and fruits.

Modern Agriculture and Soil

The current agriculture methods produce higher yields but deplete and erode soils. Currently, industrial agriculture is destroying the soil. It is being destroyed at 100 to 1,000 times the rate where it is replenished. It is according to the United Nations estimates. According to their report, we only have 60 years left of harvest in many farming regions.

What contributes to soil degradation and human demise?

Monoculture

Many industrial farms grow one single crop, year after year after year. This kind of practice depletes the soil and contributes to carbon loss and soil erosion. Agricultural farms must include perennial crops, legumes, and forages in rotation. This returns the organic matter in the soil, prevents decay, and replenishes nutrients.
  • For example, legume crop residues can be converted into nitrogen by soil bacteria, reducing the need for synthetic nitrogen-based fertilizers.

Additionally, monocropping can threaten food security. With a single crop species on millions of acres, one disease could potentially wipe out an entire food system.

Synthetic Fertilizers

Instead of using organic fertilizers, including crop rotations, cover crops, and manure, modern farms require massive amounts of synthetic fertilizers to grow crops continually. 

  • Nitrogen-based fertilizer production has increased by 9.5-fold since 1960. Fertilizer production consumes fossil fuels in a very energy-intensive process, with non-negligible environmental consequences. 

Not all the fertilizers applied are used up by the crops. Fifty percent or more of the nitrogen leaches into the environment. Many inorganic fertilizers destroy soil microbes that have roles in soil homeostasis.

  • Ammonia, nitrate, and other nitrogen residues make their way to groundwater, rivers, and eventually, the ocean. They reduce oxygen levels, increase algae growth, and damage or death to aquatic life. 

Tillage-Based Farming

Farms today till fields to remove crop residues, flatten the land, and generally mix up the topsoil. However, tilling reduces microbe populations in the soil, promotes soil erosion, and releases greenhouse gases. Today, 93 percent of the world’s cropland uses tilling-based methods for production.

Herbicides, Pesticides, and Fungicides

Herbicides, pesticides, and fungicides can help increase crop yield. By keeping weeds and harmful organisms under control. The benefits come with costs. And when this problem continues soil degradation and human demise is going to be our future. 
 
Pesticides destroy the microbial populations in the soil too. It can also disrupt honeybee and butterfly populations, impacting pollination.
  • Additionally, pesticide residues make their way into water systems and food. Many health problems have been linked to pesticide exposure, including asthma, neurological issues, and even cancer. 
  • The most well-known herbicide is glyphosate, which is applied to crops for hundreds of millions of pounds each year. Glyphosate has profound environmental and health consequences, covered in this article.

Mismanaged Grazing

Cows and other ruminants have the unique ability to convert grasses and other plants that are inedible for humans into nutrient-dense, edible animal products.
 
Best practices dictate that ruminants should rotate among different fields, allowing sections of grass to rest and regrow
 
But when cows graze on the same land as in many conventional farms, it contributes to soil erosion. It lowers soil carbon reserves. Overgrazing contributed to the loss of about one-fifth of the world’s grasslands

[7].

  • Unfortunately, the importance of ruminant animals has been almost forgotten. Due to rocky terrain, hills, and climate, much of the world’s land isn’t even conducive for growing crops. 
  • In contrast, cows, sheep, and goats can often thrive on these marginal lands. Yet these areas aren’t being fully utilized to raise ruminants for food and to sequester carbon properly. Instead, we have concentrated animal feeding operations, or CAFO, where grazing is limited, cows are fed grain residues from an outlying farm.

Unity Between the Human Body and Soil

Our body is from soil and water. Without those 2, there is minimal to no possibility of human life. The quality of soil impacts the quality of our physical, spiritual, and mental selves. 
 
Think about evolution or spirituality – if we stem from one at one point. We were the soil or some component of it, so now we are forever bound to the ground. In that soil, there is life, and from that life, there comes bigger life. Not only does it help in a physical sense but spiritual sense too.
 
When you eat bad food, you feel sick. This sickness manifests physically, mentally, and even spiritually. If you have food poisoning, how do you move? How does it then change your thinking? How does it influence your beliefs? Soil connects to us.
 
We are treating soil like some infinite disposable thing. Now take a look at how some humans treat other humans? How toxic people in power treat people below them.
 
The word human stems from the word “humus” in Latin, which means soil. As translated to “living soil” – as in the ground needed for growth. Less and less nutrient-dense foods can lead to the shunting of human growth and function.
 

To learn more about soil degradation and human demise, watch the full Episode 96 in this video 👇

SHOW NOTES:

00:00 Intro
00:52 Plugs
02:08 Soil Degradation and Human Demise
07:25 What is soil?
09:54 The layers of soil
12:35 The essential life-building blocks in soil
16:43 Nutrient Depleted Soil
20:37 Soil Erosion: Monoculture
21:58 Soil Erosion: Synthetic Fertilizers
24:21 Soil Erosion: Tillage-Based Farming
25:19 Soil Erosion: Herbicides, Pesticides, and Fungicides
27:35 Soil Erosion: Mismanaged Grazing
30:14 Unity Between the Human Body and Soil
35:20 Wrapping up the episode

Soil Degradation and Human Demise

Ep. 96: Soil Degradation and Human Demise

Soil Degradation and Human Demise

Soil degradation and retrogression are two regressive evolution processes associated with the loss of equilibrium of stable soil. 

Retrogression is primarily due to soil erosion and corresponds to a phenomenon where succession reverts the land to its natural physical state. 

  • Soil is lost due to erosion from wind and water— for example, rivers washing upland or wind blowing dirt away.

Degradation is due to the replacement of primary plant communities by secondary communities. This replacement modifies the humus composition and amount and affects the formation of the soil. 

  • It is directly related to human activity. 

What is Soil?

The definition of soil is “the unconsolidated mineral or organic material on the immediate surface of the Earth that serves as a natural medium for the growth of land plants.” [1].

Soil is one of the world’s most needed resources. We think about animals and this idea of going “plant only” but don’t understand that this might not be the best thing for ourselves and our environment. 

When was the last time, if ever, thought about soil health? It isn’t something that comes to mind as necessary, even when we think about human survival. Ask yourself what do humans need to survive? Food and water.

Water is found in natural bodies of water, but where do you get food from? Soil is required for plants, animals require plants, and as humans, we need to eat animals and plants. And when soil degradation keeps happening, what will be left for us to use? 

The Soil Profile

As soils develop over time, layers (or horizons) form a soil profile. Most soil profiles cover the earth as two main layers—topsoil and subsoil.

Soil horizons are the layers in the soil as you move down the soil profile. A soil profile may have soil horizons that are easy or difficult to distinguish. [2]

Most soils exhibit 3 main horizons:

  • A horizon: humus-rich topsoil where nutrient, organic matter, and biological activity are highest (i.e., most plant roots, earthworms, insects, and micro-organisms are active). The A horizon is usually darker than other horizons because of the organic materials.
  • B horizon: clay-rich subsoil that is often less fertile than the topsoil but holds more moisture. It generally has a lighter color and less biological activity than the A horizon. Texture may be heavier than the A horizon too.
  • C horizon: underlying weathered rock (from which the A and B horizons form).
  • Some soils also have an O horizon, mainly consisting of plant litter accumulated on the soil surface.

The properties of horizons are used to distinguish between soils and determine land-use potential.

What is in the soil we use?

Soil contains air, water, minerals, and plant and animal matter, both living and dead. These soil components fall into two categories. 

  • In the first category are biotic factors—all the living and once-living things in the soil, such as plants and insects. 
  • The second category consists of abiotic factors, including all nonliving things—minerals, water, and air. 

The most common minerals found in soil that support plant growth are phosphorus, potassium, and nitrogen gas. Other less common minerals include calcium, magnesium, and sulfur. The biotic and abiotic factors in the soil make up the soil’s composition.

Minerals

The most significant component of soil is its minerals, accounting for about 45% of its volume. These are phosphorus, potassium, and nitrogen, while the less common ones are magnesium, calcium, and sulfur. 

Water

Water is the second essential component of soil. It can make up approximately 2% to 50% of the soil volume. Water is also vital for transporting nutrients to growing plants and soil organisms and facilitating biological and chemical decomposition. Soil water availability is the capacity of a particular soil to hold water available for plant use.

Organic Material 

Organic matter is the next primary component found in soils at levels of approximately 1% to 5%. This matter is derived from dead plants and animals and has a high capacity to hold onto and provide the essential elements and water for plant growth. An organic matter has a tall “plant available” water-holding ability and CEC, which can enhance the growth potential of soils. 

Gas

Gases and air are the following essential component of soil. They make up approximately 2% to 50% of the soil volume. Oxygen is necessary for root and microbe respiration, which helps support plant growth. 

Carbon dioxide and nitrogen gas are also crucial for belowground plant functions like nitrogen-fixing bacteria. If soils remain waterlogged (where gas is displaced by excess water), it can prevent root gas exchange, leading to plant death, a common concern after floods.

Microorganisms

Microorganisms are the final fundamental element of soils. They are found in the ground in very high numbers but make up much less than 1% of the soil volume. A standard estimate is that one thimble full of topsoil may hold more than 20,000 microbial organisms. 

The largest of these organisms are earthworms and nematodes, and the smallest are bacteria, actinomycetes, algae, and fungi. Microorganisms are the primary decomposers of raw organic matter. Decomposers consume organic matter, water, and air to recycle natural organic matter into humus, rich in readily available plant nutrients [3].

Nutrient Depleted Soil

Nearly 99 percent of the world’s daily calorie intake can be traced back to the soil. The plants and animals we eat require soil to grow. Soil is vital for human survival, yet modern farming and agricultural practices quickly destroy it. 

Worldwide, one-third of the Earth’s soil is at least moderately degraded, and over half of the land used for agriculture has some degradation.

Due to intense, mismanaged farming, soil degradation decreases the nutrients that are originally found in it.

  • Nitrogen stores have decreased by 42 percent
  • Phosphorus by 27 percent
  • Sulfur by 33 percent. 

Plants require these nutrients for photosynthesis, enzymes, protein synthesis, and more to grow optimally.

As a result of soil degradation, fertility and selective breeding, the nutritional contents of some fruits, vegetables, and grains have also been compromised. 

  • In a 2004 study using USDA data, 43 garden crops were analyzed to compare nutritional content in 1950 versus 1999. Some nutrients were unchanged, but calcium, phosphorus, iron, riboflavin, and vitamin C were lower in 1999 compared to 1950, ranging from a 6 percent to 38 percent drop [4].

The protein content in corn declined from 30 percent to 50 percent from 1920 to 2001, while the starch content increased [5].

Magnesium content of vegetables and wheat has declined by up to 25 percent. Trace minerals in vegetable crops, including manganese, zinc, and copper also declined. Nickel, has decreased over the last several decades, while toxic minerals like aluminum, lead, and cadmium have increased [6].

Keep in mind that grains, soy, and corn are low on the nutrient density scale, far below organ meats, meat, eggs, dairy, vegetables, and fruits.

Modern Agriculture and Soil

The current agriculture methods produce higher yields but deplete and erode the soil. Because of this, the current industrial agriculture is destroying the soil at 100 to 1,000 times the rate at which it can be replenished. According to United Nations estimates, we have only about 60 years left of harvests in many farming regions. 

What contributes to soil degradation and human demise?

Monoculture

Many industrial farms grow one single crop, year after year after year. This practice depletes the soil nutrients and contributes to soil carbon loss and soil erosion. Ideally, agriculture farms should include legumes, perennial crops, and forages in rotation to return more organic matter to the soil, prevent decay, and replenish nutrient levels. 

  • For example, legume crop residues can be converted into nitrogen by soil bacteria, reducing the need for synthetic nitrogen-based fertilizers.

Additionally, monocropping can threaten food security. With a single crop species on millions of acres, one disease could potentially wipe out an entire food system.

Synthetic Fertilizers

Instead of using organic fertilizers, including crop rotations, cover crops, and manure, modern farms require massive amounts of synthetic fertilizers to grow crops continually. 

  • Nitrogen-based fertilizer production has increased by 9.5-fold since 1960. Fertilizer production consumes fossil fuels in a very energy-intensive process, with non-negligible environmental consequences. 

Not all the fertilizer applied is taken up by the crops. Fifty percent or more of the nitrogen leaches into the environment. Inorganic fertilizers destroy soil microbes, which play vital roles in soil homeostasis and nutrient levels.  

  • Ammonia, nitrate, and other nitrogen residues make their way to groundwater, rivers, and eventually, the ocean. They reduce oxygen levels, increase algae growth, and damage or death to aquatic life. 

Tillage-Based Farming

Farms today till fields to remove crop residues, flatten the land, and generally mix up the topsoil. However, tilling reduces microbe populations in the soil, promotes soil erosion, and releases greenhouse gases. Today, 93 percent of the world’s cropland uses tilling-based methods for production.

Herbicides, Pesticides, and Fungicides

Herbicides, pesticides, and fungicides can help increase crop yield by keeping weeds and harmful organisms under control. However, those benefits come with costs. 

Pesticides that kill bugs and disease-causing microbes can also destroy the instrumental microbial populations in the soil. It can also disrupt honeybee and butterfly populations, negatively impacting pollination.

  • Additionally, pesticide residues make their way into water systems and food. Many health problems have been linked to pesticide exposure, including asthma, neurological issues, and even cancer. 
  • The most well-known herbicide is glyphosate, which is applied to crops for hundreds of millions of pounds each year. Glyphosate has profound environmental and health consequences, covered in this article.

Mismanaged Grazing

Cows and other ruminants have the unique ability to convert grasses and other plants that are inedible for humans into nutrient-dense, edible animal products. Best practices dictate that ruminants should rotate among different fields, allowing sections of grass to rest and regrow. 

But when cows graze continually on the same land as in many conventional farms, it contributes to soil degradation, erosion and lowers soil carbon reserves. Overgrazing like this has contributed to the loss of about one-fifth of the world’s grasslands [7].

  • Unfortunately, the importance of ruminant animals has been almost forgotten. Due to rocky terrain, hills, and climate, much of the world’s land isn’t even conducive for growing crops. 
  • In contrast, cows, sheep, and goats can often thrive on these marginal lands. Yet these areas aren’t being fully utilized to raise ruminants for food and to sequester carbon properly. Instead, we have concentrated animal feeding operations, or CAFO, where grazing is limited, cows are fed grain residues from an outlying farm.

Unity Between the Human Body and Soil

Our body is built from soil and water. Without those 2, there is minimal to no possibility of human life. The quality of soil and water directly impacts the quality of our physical, spiritual, and mental selves. 

Think about evolution or spirituality – if we stem from one at one point, we were the soil or some component of it, so now we are forever bound to the ground. In that soil, there is life, and from that life, there comes bigger life. Not only does it help us physically grow but spiritually as well. 

When you eat bad food, you feel sick. This sickness can be seen physically, mentally, and even spiritually. When you have food poisoning, how do you physically move? How does it then change your thinking? How does it influence your beliefs? Soil is directly tied to us.

We are treating soil like some infinite disposable thing. Now take a look at how some humans treat other humans? How toxic people in power treat people below them.

The word human stems partially from the word humus in Latin, which means soil, and is partially translated to living soil – as in the ground needed for growth. Less and less nutrient-dense foods can lead to shunting of human growth and eventually brain function.