06 Dec World Soil Day 2023
World Soil Day is celebrated on 5 December, an anniversary established in 2014 by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations to promote the vital role of soil and awareness of its importance for our lives and the health of the planet.
Soil performs a series of fundamental functions for life on earth, just think that 95% of food comes from the soil and without fertile and healthy soil most food could not be grown.Soil is not only the basis of food production but also plays an important role in climate regulation, as it can absorb large quantities of carbon and combat climate change. Furthermore, the soil is rich in biodiversity and is home to millions of species of animals and plants.
The soil, therefore, can be considered a real ecosystem, made up of a complex set of mineral particles, water, air, organic substance and living organisms.
In particular, of the 30 soil types recognized globally by the FAO, there are 25 in Italy, which makes our country the European country with the greatest diversity of soils and with up to ten times greater biodiversity. This variety provides numerous ecosystem services including soil formation, the ability to provide and retain water and nutrients, the regulation of plant parasites and diseases, and the sequestration or movement of contaminants.
Despite this fundamental role, the planet is losing soil at an alarming rate and the factors that cause its degradation are multiple: urbanization, excessive exploitation of the soil, erosion, agriculture and intensive livestock farming, desertification, climate change, deforestation.
The theme chosen for World Soil Day 2023 is “Soil and water, resources for life”, with the aim of raising public awareness of these two resources that are fundamental for everyone’s well-being and are closely linked to each other.
The symbiosis between soil and water is the basis of agricultural systems and farmers know how important the right relationship between soil and water is. Farmers have a great responsibility: to ensure food security. Unfortunately, today a large part of the European agricultural surface is affected by soil alterations due to erosion, compaction, pollution, loss of organic substance and changes in use of the resource.
The use of soil for agricultural purposes requires cultivation practices capable of preserving the balance of the edaphic ecosystem over time.
To respond to this need, the Biodiversity Friend® Protocol provides a series of actions for the sustainable management of soil and water in agriculture, such as:
- Promote agricultural operations that limit soil erosion and the alteration of its characteristics, for example through minimal tillage or no tillage;
- Promote permanent or temporary soil cover (e.g. grass cover, green manure) to improve soil characteristics and encourage the formation of stable humus;
- Select and use soil nutrients or amendments that minimize the accumulation of toxic substances in the soil;
- Maximize irrigation efficiency and avoid overexploitation of underground aquifers and surface water resources;
- Manage sources of water pollutants produced on the farm and apply best practices to avoid and reduce unnecessary movement of pollutants through rainwater discharges.
Soil is one of the most precious resources, especially because it is a limited and non-renewable source. Therefore, it is necessary to promote and enhance sustainable agriculture, respectful of biodiversity, the territory that hosts it and the communities present there.
Find out more about the Biodiversity Friend® Protocol here.