“In a teaspoon of soil, there are as many microbes than there are mammals on the planet. Bringing in the bag of fertilisers, they are no longer needed, they're unemployed - they leave, they migrate to another area. Now you've kickstarted a downward spiral,” says agroecologist Frank Van Steensel.

Milk and Money: The True Cost of Dairy in Aotearoa is a six-part series exploring the dairy industry’s impact on the community, economy and environment of Aotearoa, and considering what a sustainable future for the industry could look like.

In Episode 5: Land and Soil, we explore the mysteries of the ground beneath our feet and the pressures dairy places on it.

Soil is likely one of the most under-appreciated substances on the planet. It’s a deeply complex, living system that almost everything on the planet is dependent on. The way we dairy has been achieved by manipulating this system into working at overdrive - but is that sustainable?

Re: Journalist Baz Macdonald speaks to dairy farmer Sam Hogg, agroecologist Frank van Steensel, kaitiaki of environment leadership at Miraka Murray Hemi (Ngāti Kahungunu), researcher at Manaaki Whenua - Landcare Research Mahuru Wilcox (Ngāti Awa, Ngāti Ranginui) and environmentalist Angus Robson.

Watch the whole series here.

Made with the support of NZ on Air.