SOS: Dig into World Soil Day 2022 and save our soils!

  • Dig into World Soil Day (WSD) on 5th December 2022!
  • ‘Soils: Where food begins’ is this year’s theme, chosen by the UN.
  • Over 95% of our food is grown in the precious dirt.
  • But over 33% of soil on the planet is worryingly degraded, soiling future food security.
  • Get down and dirty with the latest research to save our soils!

Today is World Soil Day 2022! We all walk on it every day… but when was the last time you really thought about the earth beneath your feet? Squelchy or baked, clay-based or loamy, soil is essential to our existence on Earth. Over 95% of all our food is grown in the wonderful humus – and that’s not a reference to the advanced lifeforms evolving from a forgotten tahini treat lurking at the back of your refrigerator. However, the soil does in fact also harbour an incredible amount of life. The United Nations organisers of World Soil Day, say that ‘there are more living organisms in a tablespoon of soil than people on Earth’. That’s a lot!

Alas, but our dirty companion is in peril. Soil erosion and soil degradation threaten the species that rely on it for their existence, including us. Before we start slinging mud around at for example, companies that use unsustainable intensive farming practices, let’s focus on some of the best mucking in to help SOS: save our soils! So, soil: who cares? One man certainly does. Find out about pioneering soil scientist Dr Barry Rawlins below. Dig a bit deeper and learn about the critical role soils play in our Earth’s ecosystems. Finally, find terra firma about the effects of soil erosion on carbon fluxes in croplands. Turf out dirt ignorance and plough on in underneath.

Soil: who cares?

Soils play a critical role in Earth systems, supporting plant and animal life, providing raw materials for goods and services, and providing both a reservoir and transport medium for water and macronutrients. Pioneering soil scientist Dr Barry Rawlins, of the British Geological Survey, spent his career focusing on soils, investigating their structure and physical properties, and considering how they interact with the environment around them. The breadth of his work is matched only by its wide-ranging impact on government policy and land management.

Sustainability lies in the soil

An experimental system developed in partnership by vegetable growers Produce World Ltd’s Mr Jonathan Tole and Cranfield University’s Senior Lecturer in Sustainable Soil Management, Dr Robert Simmons, is poised to revolutionise the way farmers manage their soils. Together, the researchers are unlocking the potential of soils through the new science of agri-informatics and their innovative, collaborative Soil-for-Life® management system.

The effects of soil erosion on carbon fluxes in croplands

Human activity interferes with the Earth’s carbon cycle through the release of carbon dioxide and changes in land use. Croplands cover a large proportion of the Earth’s surface, but we are still understanding how cropland soils store and release carbon. Dr Jürgen Augustin and Dr Steffen Kolb from the Leibniz Centre for Agricultural Landscape Research in Germany are using an integrated methodological approach to monitoring carbon fluxes in eroded cropland soils and resolve mechanisms regulating them.

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