Could carbon farming save our soils?

By: Tom Oder

Sustainable agricultural practices add essential carbon to soil’s organic matter, which could be key to reviving soil quality

Declining soil health could mean problems ahead as the world’s population grows. (Photo: U.S. Department of Agriculture/flickr)

The world’s soils are in jeopardy. Some scientists think agricultural soils are in such serious decline that the ability of the planet’s farmers to feed future generations is seriously compromised.
The United Nations is so concerned about the issue of soil health that after two years of intensive work, the General Assembly declared Dec. 5 to be World Soil Day and 2015 the International Year of Soils.
The goal of both events is to enhance awareness of the important roles soils play in human life, especially as populations increase and global demand for food, fuel and fiber rise.
Fertile soil is critical to sustaining food and nutritional security, maintaining essential ecosystem functions, mitigating the effects of climate change, reducing the occurrence of extreme weather events, eradicating hunger, reducing poverty and creating sustainable development.
By increasing global awareness that soils everywhere are in jeopardy, Year of Soils proponents hope policymakers will act to protect and manage soils in a sustainable manner for the world’s different land users and population groups.

Read more: http://www.mnn.com/your-home/organic-farming-gardening/stories/could-carbon-farming-save-our-soils#ixzz3Ot8VrXa8


K-State expert: Why soil is necessary component for life to exist | Ag Professional

K-State expert: Why soil is necessary component for life to exist

By Kansas State University January 14, 2015 | 11:40 am EST COMMENTS


Soil, along with water, air and sunlight, are essential components for any life to exist, including crops such as wheat.

Many authors have documented the rise and fall of civilizations throughout time. Reasons for this rollercoaster effect are numerous—from human-influenced changes such as conquest, culture or religion, to events that occur in the natural environment including changes in climate or the presence of natural resources, such as soil.

Soil is one of the four essential components for any life to exist, with the other three being water, air and sunlight. Without those four, there simply would not be any food grown on the earth’s surface, said Gary Pierzynski, university distinguished professor and head of the Department of Agronomy at Kansas State University.

Civilizations have risen and fallen throughout history due to soil quality and how people manage the soil. So in most cases, the degradation of the soil resource that led to these civilizations’ despair was human-influenced. Author Jared Diamond chronicles such stories in his New York Times bestselling book “Collapse.”

via K-State expert: Why soil is necessary component for life to exist | Ag Professional.

Soil health and zero hunger challenge | mydigitalfc.com

Soil health and zero hunger challenge

By M S Swaminathan Jan 14 2015

Long ago, Aristotle described the soil as the stomach of the plant. Nearly 90 per cent of the world’s food supply comes from crops or animals reared on the soil. According the FAO, our soils are in danger because of expanding cities, deforestation, unsustainable use, pollution, overgrazing and climate change. Thus, the current rate of soil degradation endangers our capacity to achieve a balance between human numbers and the human capacity to produce food. The UN has therefore designated 2015 as the international year of soils. The focal theme for the year is ‘healthy soils for a healthy life’. The Global Soil Partnership established by FAO in 2013 on my suggestion will monitor the progress of the steps taken during this year in improving soil healthcare and in conserving prime farm land for agriculture. Every nation should try to promote effective policies and action for the sustainable management of soil resources. In India, we will have to produce at least 50 per cent more food by 2030 from diminishing per capita land resources and expanding biotic and abiotic stresses, including climate change. There is no time to relax on the soil health conservation movement.

Land acquisition has remained a controversial issue in our country. On December 31, 2014, the government promulgated an ordinance to amend some provisions of the land acquisition law brought to Parliament by the earlier government. The amendments are designed to ensure the right to fair compensation and transparency in land acquisition, rehabilitation and resettlement. The national commission on farmers had emphasised that serious steps should be taken to prevent the diversion of good farm land for non-farm purposes such as the establishment of special economic zones (SEZ). We had proposed that like SEZ, there should be special agriculture zones (SAZ). While SEZ is for allocation of land for economic activity, SAZ should be for the conservation of good farm land for agriculture. For example, I had suggested, that the Indira Gandhi Canal Area of Rajasthan, the Kuttanad below sea level farming system of Kerala and similar important agricultural sites should not be allowed to be diverted for non-agricultural use. The earliest investigation of the soils of India date back to 1988 when four major soil groups viz., Indo-Gangetic alluvium, black cotton soil, red soil and laterite soil were recognised. Moreover, the immense variability and complexity of soil behaviour is also perceived by practicing farmers who recognise the differential response of the land to soil management and production inputs according to different soil types.

via Soil health and zero hunger challenge | mydigitalfc.com.

Mr Digwell’s podcast: improving garden soil

It might not be easy to get perfect soil but you can make your soil a little more useful.

By adding organic material and constantly working your soil, you will improve it but it can be a slow job that takes many seasons.

Plants need air for their roots, water and nutrients – the basic building blocks to grow. This generally means a nice fluffy soil that is stuffed with organic material and different sized particles – some larger to allow excess water to drain away, and some smaller ones that encourages some water to seep really close to root hairs.

Clay soil is wet but has no air and is very cold. Sandy soil is dry because the water drains away too much.  Adding compost or well rotted manure to both soil types will improve them.  On really heavy clay I tend to build raised beds and make new soil by mixing compost and brought in loam, and just let it sit on the surface. Over the years, the clay has provided plenty of water and you get great results.

Have a listen to the above podcast for more tips, and for this week’s special offer visit www.mrdigwell.com

Read more and listen here: http://www.mirror.co.uk/lifestyle/gardening/mr-digwells-podcast-improving-garden-4976591

Farmers and Ranchers: When was the last time you felt enthusiastic about the soils on your operation?

Plan to be in Holyoke, CO, on February 12 & 13, 2015, for an exciting, informative and motivational event with Gabe Brown and Ray Archuleta. “The Farming Evolution 2015″ will be held at the Event Center on the fairgrounds in Holyoke, CO. Thursday’s program will focus on farming while Friday will look at the ranching operation. Registration is $19 for one day or $25 for both days. Lunch, handout materials and a social Thursday afternoon are included. Registration increases $6 after February 4. Gabe and his family are on the leading edge of unconventional farming and ranching ideas. Gabe and his family own and operate a diversified 5,000-acre farm and ranch near Bismarck, ND. When the Browns purchased their ranch in 1991 it had a carrying capacity of 100 cow/calf pairs. The degraded soils had organic matter levels less than 2%. The rainfall infiltration rates were less than 1/2″ per hour. Today the ranch carries 350 cow/calf pairs along with 400 to 800 yearlings. The organic matter is now over 6% and infiltration rates are 8” per hour! Ray is a Conservation Agronomist for the Natural Resources Conservation Service. His infectious enthusiasm for soil is inspiring agricultural producers around the nation. Soil is more than a system to support plants physically. A healthy soil has a balance of nutrients (fuel) and an intricate biological network. Ray will help you decide if your “Soil Engine” has the fuel to fire on all eight cylinders. He will open each day with a soil stability test comparing soil from different tillage or grazing histories.

Read more here: http://www.julesburgadvocate.com/julesburg-agriculture/ci_27312489/farmers-and-ranchers-when-was-last-time-you

We All Need And Depend On Healthy Soil

Now let’s talk about soil; soil is vital to the health of both people and the planet. It is often the most overlooked of all agricultural inputs. The UN General Assembly declared Y 2015 the International Year of Soils (IYS) to increase awareness and understanding of the many important roles of soil.

According to The Land Institute, soil is every bit as non-renewable as Crud Oil, and it is essential for human survival.

Healthy soil is the foundation for food, fuel, fiber, and medical products, and is a vital part of ecosystems. It stores and filters water, provides resilience to drought, plays an important role in the carbon cycle, and is the foundation of agriculture and food production.

According to plant geneticist and president of The Land Institute Wes Jackson, and farmer and author Wendell Berry, “our present ways of agriculture are not sustainable, and so our food supply is not sustainable. We must restore ecological health to our agricultural landscapes, as well as economic and cultural stability to our rural communities.”

Mr. Jackson says we’re plowing through our soil bank account and sending those riches downstream to the ocean. He believes that the loss of topsoil is the single greatest threat to our food supply and to the continued existence of civilization.

The Land Institute is working on the development of mixed-perennial-grain crops to restore the planet’s natural landscape.

Read more here: https://worldorganicnews.wordpress.com/wp-admin/post-new.php

2015 is the ‘Year of Soils’. Here are the 6 chilling facts every African should be aware of

Arid soils in Mauritania (Photo: Oxfam International)
Arid soils in Mauritania (Photo: Oxfam International)

THE United Nations has declared 2015 as the “International Year of Soils”, and with good reason. Soil is one of the most important resources that we have, if not the most important.

It sustains all our agricultural and livestock food production, wood for fuel production, filters water so that we can drink it and fish can live in it. We also use it for construction – therefore it sustains our homes and infrastructure. Soil is a crucial aspect of African economies yet many Africans are forgetting this.

With an increasingly urban society, many people are losing contact with the processes of food production, expecting to find goods on the shelves of supermarkets and have limited or even no appreciation of the role played by soil. Politicians and policy-makers are also out of the loop since the majority of soil-related print material is geared towards university level or scientific journals and out of the reach of the general public.

Unfortunately, even in the Comprehensive African Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP), Africa’s policy framework for agricultural transformation, land degradation is not prioritised or reflected in the form of concrete financial commitments and projects.

A quick soil refresher:  All soil is composed of mineral particles (sand, clay and silt), organic matter, air and water.

It is a “living” system in that it breathes. In fact, a healthy soil reduces the impact of climate change, storing up to 10% of the world’s CO2 emissions! Even though soil is such an integral part of our lives, it is extremely fragile.

Read more here: http://mgafrica.com/article/2015-01-08-2015-is-the-year-of-soil-10-reasons-why-every-african-should-care