Man, despite his artistic pretensions, his sophistication and his many accomplishments, owes his existence to a 6-inch layer of topsoil and the fact that it rains. – Anonymous
World Soil Day is held annually on December 5th to focus attention on the importance of healthy soil and advocate for sustainable management practices. With all the food grown to feed the world produced on only 1/32nd of the planet, it’s easy to understand why our land resources deserve recognition.
As farmers, this awareness is second nature and we continually strive for sustainability of this finite resource. Caring for our soils is crucial and the key to our viability as well as those who will farm our land in the future. Incorporating organic matter back into the soil and minimal tillage are an integral part of our farm’s management to obtain optimal soil health and structure. Reducing soil erosion and loss of nutrients are priorities.
Summerfallow used to be a commonplace practice on the prairies, and on our farm. But over time, it was learned long-term use of summerfallow actually degraded soil quality and was not sustainable, so the practice was discontinued.
Soil scientists, agronomists and farmers work together to create and keep our soils healthy. Soil testing, field mapping and GPS technology create maps and ‘prescriptions’ for fertilizer, ensuring it is being applied efficiently and only in amounts needed. Less tillage and efficient placement of fertilizer means less use of resources and a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.
Education is ongoing and when we know better, we do better. Farmers have a deep connection to the land and the environment. Our workplace is also our home. The love of the our environment and growing food runs deep. We will continue to be stewards of the land and do our very best to care for the soil that sustains us all.
Soil Facts from The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO)
- 95% of food is produced on our soils
- There are more living organisms in a tablespoon of soil than there are people on earth
- It can take up to 1000 years to form 1 centimeter of top soil
- Most of the well-known antibiotics originated from soil bacteria, including penicillin
- Healthy soils with a high organic matter content can store large amounts of water
- More than 10 million people have abandoned their homelands due to drought, soil erosion, desertification and deforestation.