It’s that time of year again when everyone should join in soilidarity (I’m ashamed that I can’t take the credit for this pun – I’ve seen it on twitter a hundred times or more already today) to celebrate soils and raise awareness of their plight. Yes, it’s ‘world soil day’!
The changing nature of our soils is a pretty difficult and massive thing to grasp, but it’s vital. After all, there are hundreds of different soils and each locality has a different soil identity, based on all sorts of factors from relief to the underlying geology of an area and organic activity on the surface. What’s important to remember is that they are all different and all at different stages of degradation or accretion. They are also critical to life.
It is possible to grow (some) food without it (hydroponics is fascinating!) but we simply could not live without soil. It is crucial for food production, building construction and even flood defences, among many other uses. It helps to filter water and recycle nutrients. It is a living medium that is more biodiverse than any other habitat.
On Friday I was up in the land of heavy clay near Peterborough and locally to me we have more quite heavy land and so it is easy to forget sometimes that in other places the soil is much lighter and more prone to erosion and degradation. It is vital that we keep on top of this and ensure production methods are in line with supporting the soil environment to allow its sustainability for years to come. We ignore it at our peril.
One stat that was emailed through to me today is that we are losing the equivalent of 30 football pitches of fertile soil every minute (this came from the Soil Association) and yet it takes a thousand years to build up a centimetre of topsoil.
Take part in the soil conversation on twitter today by using #WorldSoilDay.
It would be great to hear what the soil is in your part of the world and whether it is at risk of degradation (please comment below).
I’d really appreciate if you could forward this post to somebody you know who might not be aware of the importance of soil.