No Life without Soil

Soil is part of our natural habitat and also one of the most important elements in our lives. It purifies our water and binds carbon that would otherwise escape into the atmosphere in the form of the climate gas carbon dioxide. Soil is also the most important production factor in agriculture. Without fertile and healthy soil, there would be no food. In this soil grow the plants that we use to feed pigs, cattle, poultry and ourselves. However, only twelve percent of the Earth’s surface can actually be used for agriculture. That’s why it’s important to farm sustainably, because the world’s population is growing. In 1950, there were only 2.8 billion people. Today, that figure is seven billion, and by 2050 the global population will rise to more than 9 billion. But the planet isn’t growing. The amount of farmland available per head has therefore shrunk from 0.52 hectares in 1950 to 0.27 hectares today and will drop to 0.15 hectares by 2050. And the available arable land is under further threat. Heavily loosened soil that has no protection from plant residues becomes eroded by rain and wind. Expanding cities are leading to what is known as soil sealing. Every year, an area the size of Berlin is lost in Europe alone. And monocultures leach nutrients from the soil. So to safeguard the world’s food supply, it is vital to maintain soil fertility and increase harvests in the long term. This can be done by using crop rotation that is set out for a year-round plant cover, with crop varieties that are optimally matched to the location. Soil preserving growing systems prevent soil compaction, ensure a stable soil structure and soil that contains more organic substances. Appropriate, well-balanced fertilization matched to the varying nutrient requirements of the crops promotes plant growth and maintains soil fertility. Crop protection is an important part of sustainable production. Farmers have to produce increasing amounts of food on ever decreasing areas of land. That can only be achieved when crops are effectively protected against weeds, diseases and pests. The crops have to be grown in harmony with the local soil and climate conditions. Healthy growth must be promoted, risks minimized and losses avoided. All these measures together provide an integrated approach for sustainably boosting agricultural productivity worldwide. Experts from Bayer CropScience are supporting farmers all over the world in these complex decisions. So there are ways of protecting the soil. They just have to be applied. After all, it will only be possible to have a world without hunger if we succeed in halting the dramatic loss of soil and find ways to use our soils sustainably.

1 thought on “No Life without Soil

  1. Permaculture is the answer, not chemicals. You do not have to "control" the pests, you need to plan for them and integrate livestock and wildlife into your plan.

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