Every day for us is about the soil. If we can leave the soil in better condition than the day before, we are thrilled. This is why we’re so excited that the General Assembly of the United Nations has designated 2015 as the International Year of Soils.
The international soil community has long complained about the insufficient attention given to soils by policymakers and the public at large, despite current alarming threats to this essential natural resource.
Together, with the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the Soil Science Society of America (SSSA), and the Global Soil Partnership (GSP), among others, we will highlight the importance of healthy soil, healthy plants, healthy animals, and healthy people.
We believe everything begins and ends in the soil. We are losing a plant or animal species to extinction every 60 minutes. We may lose, in the next fourteen years, twenty percent of all remaining species of plants and animals, according to the President’s Council on Environmental Quality. The activities (such as over-cultivation) of man are somewhat responsible for the ecosystem changes causing this devastation.
Did you know over-cultivation was one of the leading factors of one of the worst environmental disasters in U.S. history, the Dust Bowl of the 1930s?
The end result of over-cultivation, combined with drought and record-breaking temperatures, led to millions of acres of soil blowing away. The farmers felt that hit hard those years, but we believe bringing the soil back to its natural state could help prevent future environmental disasters such as this.
As NRCS Chief Jason Weller once wrote, “Healthy soils are the foundation of agriculture. In the face of mounting challenges such as a growing global population and extreme weather events, soil health is critical to our future. Healthy soil is essential as global demands rise for food, fuel, and fiber. Healthy soils also have a great capacity to hold nutrients and water, which can help agricultural operations during drought and mitigate flooding downstream during heavy rainfall. They keep water and nutrients in the soil where they should be and increase organic matter, aggregate stability, structure, infiltration, and available water-holding capacity of the soil.”
We’d be honored if you’d join us this year as we dig deeper into the soils that sustain us all. Each month we will be exploring various soil types in different countries and just how important healthy soil is, not only to us as human beings, but to nature as well.
Each month will come with a different theme:
January – Soils Sustain Life
February – Soils Support Urban Life
March – Soils Support Agriculture
April – Soils Clean and Capture Water
May – Soils Support Buildings/Infrastructure
June – Soils Support Recreation
July – Soils Are Living
August – Soils Support Health
September – Soils Protect the Natural Environment
October – Soils and Products We Use
November – Soils and Climate
December – Soils, Culture, and People
If this is something that interests you, be sure to check out soils.org/IYS for more information or to find monthly outreach activities.