08 DEC 2021
Need to Know: World Soil Day
By United Nations
Naturally saline soils may support rich ecosystems, but natural processes such as droughts and human activities, especially improper irrigation, can increase how many salts are in soils, a process that is called salinization. Soil salinization breaks down our soils and reduces their ability to help our food grow.
Soil salinization and sodification are major soil degradation processes threatening ecosystem and are recognized as being among the most important problems at a global level for agricultural production, food security and sustainability in arid and semi-arid regions.
Salt-affected soils have serious impacts on soil functions, such as in the decrease in agricultural productivity, water quality, soil biodiversity, and soil erosion. Salt-affected soils have a decreased ability to act as a buffer and filter against pollutants. Salt-affected soils reduce both the ability of crops to take up water and the availability of micronutrients. They also concentrate ions that are toxic to plants and may degrade the soil structure. It is estimated that there are more than 833 million hectares of salt-affected soils around the globe (8.7 percent of the planet).
World Soil Day 2021 (#WorldSoilDay) and its campaign "Halt soil salinization, boost soil productivity" aims to raise awareness of the importance of maintaining healthy ecosystems and human well-being by addressing the growing challenges in soil management, fighting soil salinization, increasing soil awareness and encouraging societies to improve soil health.
About World Soil Day
World Soil Day (WSD), held each year on December 5, is the United Nations Observance that celebrates healthy soils for a food-secure future.
An international day to celebrate Soil was recommended by the International Union of Soil Sciences (IUSS) in 2002. Under the leadership of the Kingdom of Thailand and within the framework of the Global Soil Partnership, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has supported the formal establishment of WSD as a global awareness raising platform. The FAO Conference unanimously endorsed World Soil Day in June 2013 and requested its official adoption at the 68th UN General Assembly. In December 2013, the UN General Assembly designated December 5, 2014 as the first official World Soil Day.
Below are 10 key facts about soil:
• Soil is a living resource, home to more than a quarter (25%) of our planet’s biodiversity.
• Up to 90% of living organisms live or spent part of their lifecycle in soils, yet we know only 1% of this hidden universe.
• Soil biodiversity is an essential component of soil health. Healthy soils produces more nutritious and safer food: 95% of our food comes from soils.
• Soils organisms help soils store carbon and reduce GHG emissions.
• Soil biodiversity contributes to the remediation of soil pollution by breaking down contaminants.
• Soils are vast, vital pharmacies, with almost all of the antibiotics that we take to help us fight infections having been made using soil micro-organisms?
• In just 3 inches of soil, there are 13 quadrillion living organisms, weighing 100 million tonnes.
• There are more organisms in one gram of healthy soils than there are people on Earth.
• An earthworm can digest its own weight in soil every 24 hours: 50% of the planet soil passes through the gut of earthworms each year.
• Soil organisms process 25,000 kg of organic matter in a surface area equivalent to a soccer field, which is the weight of 25 cars.