Human contact with plants and soils for health and well-being

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

4 Scopus citations

Abstract

Many studies reveal that in addition to needing food and good nutrition from fertile soils, people also need contact with nature for health and well-being. While active work with plants and soils engenders a sense of well-being and resultant stress reduction in the gardening public, even the passive viewing of landscapes by nongardeners can improve human health. A classic study conducted in a hospital showed that patients recovered more quickly from surgery and required less pain medication if they had a view of a green landscape rather than a view of a brick wall. Other studies reveal that walking in a garden helps cancer patients recover and reduces the number of violent outbursts for Alzheimer’s patients. Also, children with learning difculties improve in their ability to concentrate when they are moved from areas with little or no green spaces to areas of increased greenery. Benecial effects of viewing scenes of nature, as compared with urban scenes or hardscape, can result in physiological changes such as lowered blood pressure and reduced muscle tension (Figure 11.1). Some studies suggest that levels of greenness may inuence the incidence of crime. The practice of using plants as tools to rehabilitate people with disabilities has matured into a discipline known as horticultural therapy, and the concept of designing healing landscapes at hospitals, hospices, nursing homes, and urban environments has matured into the allied discipline known as therapy landscapes. Yet, the healing factor of healthy landscapes has not gained the broader attention of soil scientists, agronomists, and farmers in managing much of Earth’s land resource, even though healing landscapes are rooted in soil. Beyond food production and the usual environmental issues, soil scientists and agronomists may nd new opportunities by asking and researching questions about landscapes that appear to be lifeless as a result of tillage, herbicides, and cropping regimes, the aesthetic value of these landscapes, and their potential impact on the physiological and psychological health of the viewing public.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationSoils and Human Health
PublisherCRC Press
Pages227-240
Number of pages14
ISBN (Electronic)9781439844557
ISBN (Print)9781439844540
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2012

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Environmental Science(all)
  • Engineering(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences(all)

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