Be the solution to soil pollution
Seems as if gardeners head the field when it comes to keeping our soils healthy the organic way – this year’s slogan for World Soil Day is ‘be the solution for soil pollution’.
Soil needs to be “at the heart of the environmental agenda” and is an important factor in helping to limit climate change, the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) has claimed.
World Soil Day (WSD) is held globally each December 5 to raise awareness of the importance of healthy soil and the sustainable management of resources.
Industrial farming practices, poor land management and damage from development have contributed to soil being eroded, compacted and losing fertility, the CPRE added.
Failing to take action could “squander an irreplaceable and priceless natural resource”, the report said, as well as risking “food shortage, even famine, flood, polluted waters, declining nature and greater costs, inefficiencies and waste”.
Loss of topsoil
Inversion ploughing, overgrazing and compaction from heavy machinery has led to almost three million tonnes of topsoil being eroded every year across the UK.
An area of farmland the size of Yorkshire at risk of further erosion – more than one-third of all of the UK’s arable land.
The Back to the Land: Rethinking Our Approach to Soil publication sets out five recommendations:
- Rethinking farming practices
- Focusing more on conservation agriculture
- Pasture-based livestock farming
- Farming on rewetted peatlands.
Stopping soil degradation
The organisation, while praising the Government for showing “impressive leadership” on the issue, also urged politicians to “place a firm goal” to stop soil degradation by 2030, and set a new goal of net zero greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture by 2050.
Graeme Willis, CPRE senior rural policy campaigner said: “For far too long we have been ignoring the fragility of such a precious commodity. Only now is the Government starting to address the damage decades of neglect has caused.
“New agriculture policy must promote measures that support farmers to sustainably manage, protect and regenerate soils, and drive carbon from the atmosphere back into the ground.”
Last week Environment Secretary Michael Gove launched a new report into how climate change will affect the UK, which included a plan for farmers to receive payments for planting cover crops to protect soil and planting trees on agricultural land.
For more information, visit www.cpre.org.uk.
History of World Soil Day
An international day to celebrate soil was recommended by the International Union of Soil Sciences (IUSS) in 2002.
Under the leadership of the Kingdom of Thailand and within the framework of the Global Soil Partnership, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) has supported WSD as a global awareness raising platform.
In December 2013, the UN General Assembly responded by designating December 5, 2014, as the first official World Soil Day.
Why have a World Soil Day?
Soil pollution is a hidden danger under our feet – one-third of global soils are already degraded.
It’s an invisible threat, yet with the world’s population expected to reach 9 billion by 2050, soil pollution poisons our food, water and air.
Soils have a great potential to filter and buffer contaminants but this capacity is limited. Most pollutants, unsurprisingly, are generated by us – from unsustainable farming practices, industry, mining and untreated urban waste.
To battle soil pollution, join forces and turn determination into action. Be the solution to soil pollution. For more information, visit www.fao.org/world-soil-day/.