In 2013, in an effort to raise global awareness of the critical role of soils in the natural system and in human wellbeing, the 68th General Assembly of the United Nations designated December 5th as World Soil Day. And in fact, soil is more than just critical – 95% of our food depends on it. The theme for this year’s World Soil Day is:
It takes up to 1000 years to build just 2-3 cm of soil but our agriculture is using more than our planet can produce. According to recent estimations, conventional agriculture is lowering soil depth by 0.39 cm per YEAR whereas conservation agriculture only lowers it by 0.012 cm each year. Sustainable agricultural practices are urgently needed to stop soil erosion and ensure food production in the future. If you want to know more, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) has edited a very comprehensive report entitled ‘Soil erosion: the greatest challenge for sustainable soil management‘
One important measure that could be applied worldwide is the maintaining of plant cover on all soils all year round! For example, cover crops in agricultural fields can considerably reduce soil erosion while simultaneously acting as natural fertilizers and weed protectors.
Pierre Mariotte, Associate Editor of Journal of Ecology
Interested in soils? Have a look at our other blog posts dedicated to soils: