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Soil health

Global food security depends upon protecting the health and quality of soils: ensuring fertility for increasing crop yields; helping cope with drought; maintaining human health through providing essential nutrients to our diets and sequestering carbon. Yet we treat it like dirt.

Soil: A fragile foundation



George Washington, father of the USA, once said that “the history of every Nation is eventually written in the way in which it cares for its soil.” If that’s the case, we had better be worried.

Soil is the foundation upon which all living things rely, but we fail to nurture it, or to understand its importance. It is facing unprecedented threats from climate change, population growth and industrial farming to name a few. Despite these threats, there is a huge lack of data on soil health across the globe. And so, in 2013, the United Nations organised the first World Soil Day to highlight the importance of protecting our soils from human and environmental impacts.

This year’s World Soil Day on December 5th marks the beginning of the International Year of Soils. Throughout 2015 there will be a series of events designed to raise awareness of the importance of soils for food security and essential eco-system functions.

The Food Ethics Council has long been a champion of soil health. Our magazine Soil, a fragile foundation asked world leading experts to give their assessment on the current state of soil health, and their views on how to protect this precious resource in the face of growing pressures.

Contributors included Professor Bob Watson (Defra's ex-chief scientist), EU Environment Commissioner Potočnik, Mark Kibblewhite (Professor of Applied Soil Science at Cranfield University), Peter Kendall (ex-NFU President), Emma Hockridge (head of policy at the Soil Association), writers from the World Bank, the Food and Agriculture Organisation, ActionAid and many more.Download the magazine


Soil expert and Food Ethics Council member Charlie Clutterbuck has written a blog post for World Soil Day in which he traces the roots of his love of soil, and makes a passionate plea to treat it with the respect it deserves.

We've also asked guest bloggers Professor Mark Kibblewhite of Cranfield University and Louise Payton of the Soil Association to tell us their hopes for the world's soils. Pop over to our blog section to read more.