A full 90 percent of the Earth’s topsoil is likely to be at risk by 2050, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations (UN).
In a bid to protect soil around the world and help the farmers, FAO warned on July 27 that Earth’s ground, equivalent to one football field, is being destroyed every five seconds.
It also takes about a thousand years to create just a few centimetres of topsoil and help regenerate the land. Now the UN agency is calling on countries and partners that have joined the Global Soil Partnership (GSP) over the past decade to take more action in this context.
FAO called for five key actions to prevent the destruction require civilians, governments and international organizations to do more, in order to monitor and care for the soil. So far, one of GSP’s accomplishments has been partnerships with farmers and local governments to improve soil health.
According to the FAO, programs have been initiated to increase the amount of organic matter in the soil “through the introduction of practices such as cover crops, crop rotation and agroforestry.”
Costa Rica and Mexico joined these pilot schemes and trained farmers on best practices, including the use of so-called “cover crops” to prevent erosion, crop rotation and tree planting.
A newly invented technology for data collection in the form of digital soil mapping informs policy makers about relevant soil conditions and empowers them to make informed decisions to manage soil degradation. FAO also called through the WWW for the coordination and integration of sustainable practices through investment in development and education. These carefully planned programs facilitate the transfer of information and technologies related to soil health. These networks agree on methods, units of measurement and information related to soil analysis.
Similarly, the highly technical nature of the topsoil policy debate may alienate voters who might otherwise be interested and involved in such an important environmental and social issue, FAO says. Campaigns such as International Year of Soils as well as world soil day designed to increase youth awareness of soils and increase participation in preventing further degradation. While the work of the WWW represents an effort by non-government partners to promote sustainable tillage practices, however, government policy makers are essential actors in the implementation of sustainable land use policies.