The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has declared 2015 as the International Year of Soils. The International Year of Soils is intended to raise awareness and promote the sustainable use of soils.
Soil consists of a mixture of inorganic material (sand, silt, and/or clay), decomposed organic material (humus), living organisms (bacteria, fungi, worms, moles, etc.), water, and air. Healthy soils are a vital component of the world’s ecosystems and agricultural production. They also play a significant role in carbon sequestration. Unfortunately their importance and conservation are often overlooked.
The FAO produced a great infographic about the importance of soils and the objectives for the International Year of Soils. There’s lots of other great educational material as well, like this short video produced by the FAO:
The FAO estimates that a third or more of the world’s soils are degraded. Processes such as erosion, compaction, soil sealing (by buildings, roads, etc.), salinization, depletion of soil organic matter and nutrients, acidification, and pollution all result from human activities, particularly unsustainable agricultural practices and development.
In celebration of the International Year of Soils, I’ll be posting articles about soils from time to time this year. In this series, I’ll cover topics like the soil microbiome, how soils and ecosystems influence each other, composting, the role of soil in carbon cycles, and sustainable agricultural practices that promote healthy soils. Stay tuned!