Life on earth depends on our soils. From growing plant life to preserving waterways, to supporting and sustaining animal life, soil feeds the life on earth. The condition of the world’s lands is affected by human development. Damage to earth’s soils occurs from deforestation, intensive agricultural practices, urbanization, the building of roadways and other infrastructure, and through widespread use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides. All of these things contribute to soil damage and erosion. Many authorities are finally recognizing the problems associated with soil erosion, and the long-term effects soil erosion has on our food and water supply. While everyone ought to be concerned about the damage occurring to our usable soils, unfortunately, land conservation has become a partisan issue, especially in the United States.
Why everyone should be concerned with soil erosion
The soil is found in the uppermost layer of the earth and consists mostly of organic matter, minerals, water, and gasses. Soil serves as the basis for plant life on earth. As soils are rendered unusable due to urbanization and the building of infrastructure, it becomes increasingly vital that we focus on maintaining the health of our remaining usable soils. As soil health deteriorates, so to can plant, animal, and ultimately human health. The soil is responsible for maintaining healthy water supplies as well as plant and animal biodiversity. Without healthy soils, we will experience a cascade of problems and global health issues.
Ways we can conserve soils and prevent soil erosion
Making soil conservation a priority moving forward can help to prevent further damage to the Earth’s soils and reverse some of the previous damage caused by humanity. This can only be accomplished if people set aside partisan politics and focus together on the health of the world’s soils. Soil can be protected through various practices especially when implemented nationally and internationally in a concerted effort to reverse soil damage and protect soil moving forward. Within our efforts to progress technologically and socially, we can include efforts to spread awareness and ideas for land conservation. Innovative farming and agricultural practices can maintain the goals of feeding humanity without sacrificing the health of our soils. Governments can incentivize the development of soil friendly technologies and farming practices through the use of grants and tax incentives. Currently in the United States, through the 2015 farm bill and the USDA Department of National Resources Conservation Services, farmers can obtain grants and low-interest loans for implementing and using land conservation practices (Services, 2017). Programs such as the NRCS Land Conservation program helps farmers overcome day to day operational problems all while implementing practices that contribute to conserving earth’s valuable resources. Supporting programs and initiatives such as these and spreading awareness of such programs can benefit the agricultural industries as well as the land and soils we need to support that agriculture. When buildings are constructed, the soil under neither those structures is rendered unusable, and that land becomes threatened by potential contamination. Industrial planning of infrastructure must include considerations of the how these projects affect the soil and ways to plan and implement building projects with the protection of soils in mind. Intense agricultural practices over the last several decades have contributed to soil erosion as well as decreased mineral and nutritional content within our soils. While our world’s farmers focus on ways to improve crop yield and farming efficiency, we must also leave room for the maintenance of soil health. Researching new farming practices and pursuing innovated farming techniques that include soil conservation should be the future of agriculture. Local small-scale efforts with individuals and families will be necessary for protecting our soils from further erosion. Promoting practices such as composting, no-till gardening and proper animal husbandry can increase soil health while getting communities and individuals involved in soil conservation efforts. The earth’s soil is responsible for maintaining life on earth. Through soil, we grow our foods, manage our waterways and maintain a healthy balance of animal life. Soil conservation also increases the soils ability to hold and maintain carbon which will reduce the impact carbon has on the overall health of the earth (Schwartz, 2014).
Impact of Soil and Land Conservation
Researchers believe that restorative agricultural practices can increase not only productivity but also reduce levels of C02 in the atmosphere. Maintaining soil health increases our lands ability to handle disasters such as flood and draughts (Schwartz, 2014). Land conservation efforts made globally can have an even more significant impact on the health of our soils, food chain and the earth. National and international cooperation with the goals of land and soil conservation as a focus will impact future generations by reversing the damage done to our soils as well as prevent further damage to our lands.