Agriculture This Week - Soil conservation a foundation of the future

When it comes to food production there are two crucial elements, water and soil.

While we tend to understand there is a threat to water in terms of pollution and how the resource is ultimately used, we perhaps forget that soil is also a fragile resource.

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“While we can see many of the changes we have made to our planet, some of our impacts are virtually invisible, and soil pollution is a good example,” notes

With that in mind it is not surprising that ‘Be the Solution to Soil Pollution’ was the campaign for World Soil Day 2018, which was marked Dec. 5.

World Soil Day is celebrated annually on the 5th of December at the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) headquarters in Rome.

According to the website the situation is worse than most would think living in Saskatchewan, or on the Canadian Prairies.

“One third of our global soils are already degraded,” suggests the site. “Yet we risk losing more due to this hidden danger. Soil pollution can be invisible and seems far away but everyone, everywhere is affected. With a growing population expected to reach 9 billion by 2050, soil pollution is a worldwide problem which degrades our soils, poisons the food we eat, the water we drink and the air we breathe.”

The reasons for preserving soil go beyond the most basic one of being required to grow food.

“Soils have a great potential to filter and buffer contaminants, degrading and attenuating the negative effects of pollutants, but this capacity is finite. Most of the pollutants originate from human activities, such as unsustainable farming practices, industrial activities and mining, untreated urban waste and other non-environmental friendly practices,” suggests the site.

The site suggests, “It is time to uncover this threatening reality. Combatting soil pollution requires us to join forces and turn determination into action. Be the solution to soil pollution.”

While the suggestion is obviously a good one, with broader awareness of the potential threat to our soils being the first step is attempting to prevent the danger, it also has to be noted that the Dec. 5, day is largely unknown, at least here in the heart of vast fields of farmland.

But, perhaps that is because farm producers here have been ahead of the curve in terms of protecting the soil resource by practices such as zero-till which greatly lessens the impact of wind and water erosion on spoils.

There is also increased awareness of how water flows not just over a single field, but through a much larger watershed, and the need to balance that drainage with the needs of farm production.

Still, the day has its merits, simply as a reminder we need continued diligence in terms of preserving our soil resource.

Calvin Daniels is Editor with Yorkton This Week.

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