Wednesday, December 10, 2014

60 Years Left

"ROME (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Generating three centimeters of top soil takes 1,000 years, and if current rates of degradation continue all of the world's top soil could be gone within 60 years, a senior UN official said on Friday.

About a third of the world's soil has already been degraded, Maria-Helena Semedo of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) told a forum marking World Soil Day.

The causes of soil destruction include chemical-heavy farming techniques, deforestation which increases erosion, and global warming. The earth under our feet is too often ignored by policymakers, experts said.

"Soils are the basis of life," said Semedo, FAO's deputy director general of natural resources. "Ninety five percent of our food comes from the soil."

Unless new approaches are adopted, the global amount of arable and productive land per person in 2050 will be only a quarter of the level in 1960, the FAO reported, due to growing populations and soil degradation.

Soils play a key role in absorbing carbon and filtering water, the FAO reported. Soil destruction creates a vicious cycle, in which less carbon is stored, the world gets hotter, and the land is further degraded.

"We are losing 30 soccer fields of soil every minute, mostly due to intensive farming," Volkert Engelsman, an activist with the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements told the forum at the FAO's headquarters in Rome.

"Organic (farming) may not be the only solution but it's the single best (option) I can think of."

Now I know most American farmers don't trust the FAO but you really have to think about their point.  The point is we still lose too much topsoil even with the advancement of reduced, minimum and no tillage.  I can lose a ton of topsoil a year with my no-till method but cover crops helps reduce that while providing other benefits.

You and I don't have to be overly concerned about 60 years from now but I do have 12 grand children.

I do care and I am concerned.

Ed Winkle


  1. Sounds like a load crap to me. I believe those who are doing the best to keep and improve their soils are the main target of this group. The corn on corn farmers who heavily use gmo's herbicides and insecticides. They are having to come up with new tillage practices due to too much residue building up over time.
    While I take a different approach to farming (mainly. Due to a non gmo premium) I say to each their own, freedom and private property rights. We live in the greatest country in the world and the UN hates us for that. The American farmer will find a way to feed the world in the years to come.

  2. Chemical heavy farming degrades the soil?? Not true at all. I lose a lot less topsoil now with chem fallow and more intensive cropping than I did in the years of black summerfallow. Spring run off and heavy thunderstorms would take tons of topsoil off the field and wash it into creeks when the field had no crop cover to protect it from erosion.

  3. Organic farming is intensive in terms of tillage. How is that the single best option anyone could think of to stop soil degradation? I couldn't imagine farming some of our sandier soils organically. They would blow away

    David Seck

  4. I hear you all and I lean your way. I must admit I've personally witnessed what the report talks about.

    No, we don't see it hidden in today's yields but it could be there. I do agree though I don't see a worldwide drop in production due to soil loss in 60 years. It is good fodder for discussion though because the writers felt strong enough to even write the article.

    If anything it's probably a premature warning bell but I do think there is some truth in it. I didn't buy the organic farming comments at all, though.