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Year of the soils

By Staff | Jan 16, 2015

The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced early this month that it had begun its observance of the International Year of Soils. The goal is to highlight the significance of soils that are healthy “for food security, ecosystem functions and resilient farms and ranches.”

Because of importance of agriculture to the Hawkeye State’s economy, many Iowans – both farmers and non-farmers – are already acutely aware that keeping soil healthy is an issue that should concern everyone.

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, who is a former governor of Iowa, called the nation’s attention to that reality in a statement his department issued Jan. 6.

“Healthy soil is the foundation that ensures working farms and ranches become more productive, resilient to climate change and better prepared to meet the challenges of the 21st century,” Vilsack said.

As the world’s population grows, one of the consequences is that the amount of land available for agriculture inevitably will decrease. Making certain that the soil available for cultivation remains adequate for the food production needed is a crucial priority.

According to the USDA, that’s why the United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organization, working within the framework of the Global Soil Partnership, spearheaded the adoption of a resolution by the U.N. General Assembly designating 2015 as the International Year of Soils. The goal is to increase worldwide awareness of the importance of soil for food security and essential ecosystem functions.

The USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service has been charged with coordinating the department’s participation in International Year of Soils projects and observances. That’s highly appropriate because nearly eight decades ago that agency – then known as the Soil Conservation Service – was established with the mission of improving the “health and sustainability of our nation’s soils.”

As the International Year of Soils unfolds, it is hoped that people around the world will become more familiar with the critical contributions soil conservation and other measures to improve soil health make to the well-being of people everywhere.

The NRCS will be working with Soil Science Society of America and other partners, to showcase the importance of soil. As the year unfolds, each month will highlight an educational topic. The themes that have been announced are listed below:

  • January – Soils Sustain Life
  • February – Soils Support Urban Life
  • March – Soils Support Agriculture
  • April – Soils Clean and Capture Water
  • May – Soils Support Buildings/Infrastructure
  • June – Soils Support Recreation
  • July – Soils Are Living
  • August – Soils Support Health
  • September – Soils Protect the Natural Environment
  • October – Soils and Products We Use
  • November – Soils and Climate
  • December – Soils, Culture and People

Farm News applauds this important educational initiative by the USDA.

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