Soils: Where Food Begins | World Soil Day 2022!

World Soil Day 2022 and its campaign “Soils: Where food begins” aims to raise awareness of the importance of maintaining healthy ecosystems and human well-being by implementing more sustainable soil managing practices, increasing soil awareness, and encouraging societies to promote soil health.

Think about what you might eat for dinner tonight, the chances are your plate will be filled with vegetables, cereals, and meat, all of which started their journey to your plate in the soil. In fact, 95% of our food comes from soils. With the increasing global demand for food, it is estimated that agricultural production will have to increase by 60% to meet global demand in 2050!

Looking after our soils to secure our food systems should be a priority. However, one third of soils are degraded, this includes soils which are nutrient depleted, causing their capacity to support crops to continue to decline. Of the 18 naturally occurring chemical elements that are essential for plants 15 are supplied by soils, and when soils are not able to provide these in sufficient quantities the levels of minerals and vitamins in food decreases. It is estimated that 2 billion people worldwide suffer from lack of micronutrients, known as hidden hunger as it can be difficult to detect. It is estimated that 2/3 of the world population is at risk of nutrient deficiency.

Maintaining a healthy soil ecosystem requires effective and sustainable soil management practices that promote long term soil health. Besides growing food, healthy soils also provide a multitude of other benefits including increasing carbon storage, water retention, water regulation and supporting ecosystems for organisms to thrive. One size does not fit all when it comes to soils as land varies in terms of drainage, topography, geology, and other soil characteristics which all require different practices to manage them sustainably.

When considering the value of soils and land in the environmental impact assessments process, it is vital that we now consider the full range of ecosystem services that soils provide. The recently released IEMA guidance provides an introduction to assessing soils based on this ecosystem service approach. This is an important step to helping us account for the full value of soils to society rather than just for food production.

The Agriculture, Soils and Peat Team at Wardell Armstrong provide unique Soil or Peat Management Plans that give site-specific advice on good practice for soil storage, handling and reinstatement during construction, operation, decommissioning and aftercare. These plans are increasingly required by local planning authorities to accompany planning applications as they are an effective way of minimising or avoiding human impacts on soil resources. Soil Management Plans can deliver significant project savings by providing effective advice that can help minimising project costs such as the import and export of soil resources and helps ensure that the protection of soil resources is a demonstrated priority.

Wardell Armstrong’s team of qualified and highly experienced soil scientists have a comprehensive knowledge of soil, peat and environmental science, hydrology, ecology and agriculture. Our soil scientists provide soils and land management related expertise across a diverse range of business sectors including, but not limited to land management, utilities, built development (commercial and residential), renewable energy, minerals and waste.

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