Key to your organization’s success is the efficiency with which you are able to marshal your resources of leadership, knowledge, people, and equipment to move dirt. That’s where our focus will continue to lie, and that’s why you’ll want to check in with our “Technology in Construction” column every issue. But there’s another matter here that is all too often overlooked, or, if considered, apt to be regarded as pretty much a regulatory matter: soil conservation, the bottomest of all bottom lines.
Before you can so much as scratch the surface of an acre-or-larger parcel of land, you have to create and swear vile oaths to live up to stormwater and erosion control plans that often seem to be—and sometimes are—exercises in governmental overzealousness (efforts we cover in great depth in our Stormwater and Erosion Control magazines). Even when we see the necessity for installing and maintaining best management practices to counter the forces of wind and water because of their impacts on air and water quality, rarely does our vision include the effect our activities are having on the most precious and irrecoverable of all natural resources, the dirt itself.
Right now, energy holds front stage in our pantheon of public concerns, and without belittling its importance (after all it’s the focus of another sister publication, Distributed Energy) its challenges are far less daunting than those of either air or water quality. But even those challenges pale by comparison to soil loss. It’s one thing to deal with dust and turbidity where we have the means to limit and remediate situations in time in our own lifetimes. But soil loss? Here we’re talking about remediation that lies not in human, but rather geologic time scales...processes in which the replacement of just one millimeter of new topsoil will not occur in your or even your children’s lifetime.
Think Greece 2,500 years ago, when it was a veritable Garden of Eden. Then think about it now…for the most part, a rocky, barren reminder of what lies in store for much of the world, including us. There are areas in the US that have lost over half their topsoil in the last 100 years, and it’s not coming back! So while the new tools and the revolution they support are important to your prosperity, the results of their precision and efficiencies will be felt by generations yet to be born.