Action to improve soil for global food security

Jan 14, 2013
Action to improve soil for global food security
Credit: Shutterstock

As a society, we are becoming more aware of the many ways we can help support sustainable development and preserve the environment. Governments, scientists and international organisations are calling attention to soil: the basis for more than 90 % of world food production. With one in eight inhabitants of the world suffering from hunger, ensuring soil is managed and restored for global food security is vital. Soil is also important for sustainable development, and supports ecosystem services, biodiversity conservation and climate change adaptation and mitigation.

Every minute, 23 hectares of land face desertification, 5.5 hectares of land are transformed by urban encroachment (severely disturbing functions), and 10 hectares of soil are degraded, causing the soil to lose the capacity to support . Soil is - in human terms - a non-renewable resource. In effect, the earth is being stripped of its cover at a rate much faster than can be replaced, thereby posing a direct threat to sustainability. Around the world, there is a continuous decline in ; unequal access to fertile soil renders the livelihoods of many rural people vulnerable. This trend leads to , contamination of water resources, desertification, and increased vulnerability to extreme .

Now action is being taken by the Global Soil Forum (GSF): it has initiated a process of fostering translation of soil knowledge into tangible action. The GSF also acts as a voice in the national and international policy debate, advocating for soil management approaches that contribute to achieving and equitable access to this finite resource.

The forum recently launched the first Global Soil Week. More than 400 representatives of governments, scientists, international organisations, business and civil society met in Berlin, Germany, to consider the theme 'Soils for Life'. The event took place within the framework of the Global Soil Partnership and served as a platform to follow-up on the land- and soil-related decisions from the June 2012 UN Conference on Sustainable Development.

Professor Klaus Töpfer, executive director of the Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies (IASS), Potsdam, and chairman of the Global Soil Forum, says: 'Without fertile soils, food security, poverty alleviation and climate change mitigation and adaptation will not be achieved. The Global Soil Week, being the first of its kind, requests politicians, land managers and civil society to address soils and land management as a core priority area now.'

Discussions at the event concluded that urgent and consolidated action was needed to strengthen science and technology, build partnerships for change and raise awareness about the issue. To accomplish this, key actions were proposed including, facilitating the science policy-public interface; and making the Global Soil Week a continuous process. In addition, developing an agenda for action also focused on multilevel governance for zero net land and soil degradation, sustainable land and , and communication for change.

Explore further: Study casts doubt on climate benefit of biofuels from corn residue

More information: www.globalsoilweek.org/
eusoils.jrc.ec.europa.eu/InternationalCooperation/GSP/
www.iass-potsdam.de/

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

In soil we trust

Jul 14, 2011

Put simply, we cannot survive without soil. Its rich combination of minerals, carbon-rich organic matter and water supports plant life. It also harbours its own diverse ecosystem of millions of microbes and ...

Rediscovering sound soil management

May 10, 2011

At the same time that demand for food is soaring along with the world's population, the soil's ability to sustain and enhance agricultural productivity is becoming increasingly diminished and unreliable.

No-tillage plus

Jul 28, 2008

Tropical soils often behave differently than temperate soils when being farmed. In tropical regions, soils lose nutrients quickly when cultivated. With food shortages looming and soil quality declining rapidly, new farming ...

Farming commercial miscanthus

Aug 31, 2011

An article in the current issue of Global Change Biology Bioenergy examines the carbon sequestration potential of Miscanthus plantations on commercial farms.

A model to measure soil health in the era of bioenergy

Nov 19, 2008

One of the biggest threats to today's farmlands is the loss of soil organic carbon (SOC) and soil organic matter (SOM) from poor land-management practices. The presence of these materials is essential as they do everything ...

Fingerprinting fugitive dust

Jul 21, 2011

Each community of soil microbes has a unique fingerprint that can potentially be used to track soil back to its source, right down to whether it came from dust from a rural road or from a farm field, according to a U.S. Department ...

Recommended for you

US delays decision on Keystone pipeline project

Apr 18, 2014

The United States announced Friday a fresh delay on a final decision regarding a controversial Canada to US oil pipeline, saying more time was needed to carry out a review.

New research on Earth's carbon budget

Apr 18, 2014

(Phys.org) —Results from a research project involving scientists from the Desert Research Institute have generated new findings surrounding some of the unknowns of changes in climate and the degree to which ...

User comments : 0

More news stories

China says massive area of its soil polluted

A huge area of China's soil covering more than twice the size of Spain is estimated to be polluted, the government said Thursday, announcing findings of a survey previously kept secret.

UN weather agency warns of 'El Nino' this year

The UN weather agency Tuesday warned there was a good chance of an "El Nino" climate phenomenon in the Pacific Ocean this year, bringing droughts and heavy rainfall to the rest of the world.

Growing app industry has developers racing to keep up

Smartphone application developers say they are challenged by the glut of apps as well as the need to update their software to keep up with evolving phone technology, making creative pricing strategies essential to finding ...

Making graphene in your kitchen

Graphene has been touted as a wonder material—the world's thinnest substance, but super-strong. Now scientists say it is so easy to make you could produce some in your kitchen.