CARA's Soil Health Initiative
Soil history shows that many civilizations have collapsed from unsustainable land use. The impact of soil disturbance has been very much underestimated. Soil modification has been taking place indirectly through changes in the vegetative cover, with the forest clearance, natural cycle processes have been interrupted. The United Nations estimates that 2.5 billion acres have suffered erosion since 1945 and that 38% of global cropland has become seriously degraded.
Here in east central Alberta, some of the soils have been farmed for over 115 years. Organic matter levels have deteriorated from production and harvesting of crops as well as natural wind and water erosion events. While soil health is becoming more of a priority among producers, there is considerable ‘ground’ to make up. With this in mind, it is time that we start giving the land more attention.
On December 5, 2014, the 68th UN General Assembly declared 2015 the International Year of Soils (IYS) (A/RES/68/232). The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations has been nominated to implement the IYS 2015, within the framework of the Global Soil Partnership and in collaboration with Governments and the Secretariat of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification. The IYS 2015 aims to increase awareness and understanding of the importance of soil for food security and essential ecosystem functions.
The specific objectives of the IYS 2015 are to:
Raise full awareness among civil society and decision-makers about the profound importance of soil for human life;
Adaptation and mitigation, essential ecosystem services, poverty alleviation and sustainable development;
Educate the public about the crucial role soil plays in food security, climate change
Support effective policies and actions for the sustainable management and protection of soil resources;
Promote investment in sustainable soil management activities to develop and maintain healthy soils for different land users and population groups;
Strengthen initiatives in connection with the SDG process (Sustainable Development Goals) and Post-2015 agenda;
Advocate for rapid capacity enhancement for soil information collection and monitoring at all levels (global, regional and national).
At CARA Soil Health Lab, we have already started to create some awareness of principle soil interactions and to understand the interactions of the different soil components by presenting activities such as soil workshops to producers.