"Salute To Soil" Underscores Need To Focus On Its Health

"Salute To Soil" Underscores Need To Focus On Its Health

Iowa joins other states on Food and Agriculture Organization's World Soil Day, recognizing soil's importance and giving credit where it is due.

Soil is responsible for nearly all life on the planet, but rarely gets the respect it deserves. On Dec. 5, 2013 this living and life-giving resource is finally getting its day—across the state and across the globe.

The United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organization is celebrating World Soil Day under the framework of the Global Soil Partnership. The goal of the celebration and the designation of today as World Soil Day is to raise awareness of the importance of healthy soils for food security, ecosystem functions and resilient farms.

UNLOCK SECRETS IN THE SOIL: The global focus on soil these days is being amplified across Iowa through the state's Nutrient Reduction Strategy and the recent soil health educational campaign launched by USDA, called "Unlock the Secrets in the Soil." On Dec. 5, 2013 this living and life-giving resource is finally getting its day—across the state and across the globe.

The global focus on soil is being amplified across Iowa through the state's Nutrient Reduction Strategy and also through the recent soil health educational campaign launched by USDA, called "Unlock the Secrets in the Soil."

Farmers and conservation professionals are working together every day to conserve and protect the soil

"We work every day in every county to conserve and protect this vital resource," says Jay Mar, NRCS state conservationist for Iowa. "So, to us every day is 'soil health day.'"  Mar adds, "Improving Iowa's soil health has broad implications related to the vitality of our farms, the health of our planet and our ability to feed more than 9 billion people who will be living on Earth by the year 2050."

"Keeping soil healthy improves water and air quality, makes farms more sustainable and resilient, provides for wildlife habitat and reduces flooding," says Bill Northey, Iowa Secretary of Agriculture. "One byproduct of healthy soils is cleaner water. So, focusing on soil health will help Iowa meet its water quality goals as well."

While improving soil health has benefits, it also presents some unique challenges

Mar says that while improving soil health has enormous benefits, it also has its challenges. "We know that every farm is different and has its own set of unique resource issues," he says. "Fortunately, Iowa's farmers are innovative and NRCS and the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship are committed to assisting these soil health pioneers—to help make their farms more productive, resilient and profitable along the way."

The two Iowa conservation leaders agree that World Soil Day serves as a reminder to all of us that the promise of our future resides in the soil. "As we face mounting global food production, climate and sustainability challenges, there is no better time to work hand-in-hand with Iowa farmers to improve the health of our soil," says Northey.

If you are interested in learning more about the basics, benefits and promise of improving soil health, you are urged to visit the NRCS website and read about how to "Unlock the Secrets in the Soil."

TAGS: USDA
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