Today is UN Soil Day, marking the Year of Soils 2015.
Perhaps not a very exciting topic to be writing about but without soil health, I wouldn’t be growing or writing about this
So why has the UN placed such emphasis on soil health?
- play a key role in the carbon cycle
- store and filter water
- provide food, fuel, fibre
Without healthy soils, life on earth would be unsustainable, said Ban Ki-moon
“Today, we have more than 805 million people facing hunger and malnutrition. Population growth will require an approximately increase of 60 per cent in food production,” FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva warned.
Whilst in Malawi in September, I was only too aware of the poor fertility of the soil but encouraged by the increase in permaculture programmes there. But this isn’t just a developing world issue. Globally, soils are suffering from pollution, urban expansion, compaction and nutrient depletion due to unsustainable land management.
Improving soil fertility
As all gardeners will know, the addition of organic matter improves fertility, soil structure and drainage. It encourages soil organisms which aid fertility. So adding leaf mould, home-made compost or well rotted farmyard manure is key; fertilisers may provide nutrients but if the soil structure is poor they may not reach the roots of plants. Let’s hope governments get on board and enter the debate. In my own hometown, the growth of almost 50 Community Gardens, and the sharing of good practice which has ensued, has been a step in the right direction.