The Importance of Soil


[Light and positive guitar music.] Ed Gregorich: Why soils are important is because primarily they produce food. Soils are important for our other ecosystems. They’re important for growing trees, grasslands and so forth. We’re at the stage where we’re seven and a half billion going to 10 billion people… …so we have this – and we hear a lot about this – the increase in population. But what we don’t hear about is the fact that there’s no more expansion of agricultural land. And so that’s the point is that we have a limited amount of land available… …and we have to make the most of that land. And that’s where our current focus is… …focusing in how to make that more productive and how to be more efficient on the land that we have. Well, the reason it’s important for our producers is they’re making a living on the land. They’re growing crops to feed people but also to make a return on their investment. So they’re looking at inputs and outputs and they are very much aware… …of how much they’re putting in. Sometimes there’s leakage from that system. We talk about leaks to the water, to the air and that’s something we work on with our research team. We look at management practices that will minimize those leaks… …so that it’s more economical for the farmer but it’s also environmentally friendly. How the producer gets the information oftentimes comes from our soil database… …and it basically is an archive of all the soils across Canada. Those soils are then plugged into models. They’re looked at to see how they would react… …in an erosive situation or in a droughty situation. So that then helps for predictive purposes. The soils in the 1930s were very dry. It was called the dust bowl era, and it was at that point that the government recognized they had to do something… …and they actually set up a branch to study soil conservation. And from that point forward we’ve been working on those issues… …of how to manage the soils to prevent erosion, to prevent degradation. And that work continues today. If we did have a really severe drought… …I don’t think it would have the impact that it did back then. You know, almost 80 years of research, we’ve got some measures… …and techniques that are in place that prevent that. We’ve got to work for producers, focusing in on helping them to be productive… …efficient and to manage our system in such a way that’s economically… …viable for them, but environmentally sustainable. Narrator: Learn more about soil sciences in Canada with our other videos… …on the chemistry, physics, biology and nutrients in soil. [Light guitar music continues.] [Light guitar music fades out.]

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