Aerobic Soil Microfaunaby Bobby Long
The Soil Food Web School commissioned an illustration to serve as the official artwork for their 2022 Soil Regen Summit, an international conference focused on regenerative farming and soil health. This illustration was used for advertising the event on their website and social media, and was later printed on posters, shirts, and mugs to commemorate the event. Founded by Dr. Elaine Ingham, one of the world’s foremost soil biologists, the organization’s courses have helped restore the ecological functions of soil on six continents. The conference was held in support of Tiyeni.org which teaches farmers in Malawi how to improve their crop yields with low-cost conservation agriculture.
It was an honor to be asked to produce the first illustration of its kind for the annual Soil Summit. My goal was to visually strip away the soil media and provide an unobstructed look into a sphere-shaped sample of beneficial and charismatic microfauna, all swirling around fungus-enhanced root tips. For reference, I looked closely at two different types of imagery in order to combine the “best of both worlds” in my drawing: optical microscopy (whose subjects display a backlit transparency, but come into focus as a very flat, shallow sliver) and scanning electron microscopy (whose subjects appear fully opaque, but display incredible depth of field). Of these translucent animals I drew, the shape-shifting Naked Amoeba was the most fun to sculpt on paper.
Graphite and digital color. 20”x20”