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The dirt on soil

Soil quality is a key factor in plant productivity in agriculture.  Every good farmer tries to preserve or improve their soil to assure healthy crops and good yields in the future.  In fact, 2015 will be the International Year of Soils and December 5 of this year World Soil Day.  I’ve run across several articles in the past week which talk about the importance of soil in long-term agricultural sustainability.

FoodTank.com has a post called “Dirt in Danger” about how soils around the world are threatened by bad farming practices like overgrazing, deforestation, and poorly done tillage-based agriculture and the need for more education on the importance of good soils to ecosystems, community development and food production.  Changes in climate in the future may affect soil more by increasing erosion, changing the mix of plants in an area, and affecting the microbiomes within the soil.

This becomes even more important when you consider that great civilizations of the past have often risen or decayed based on the health of their soils.  HeritageDaily.com posted an article describing the advances made by early civilizations in promoting agriculture and how overuse of the soil often led to disruptions in that civilization.  Wise use of all agricultural practices that conserve soil fertility will improve our ability to feed future generations.

An alternative to growing plants in soil has also taken root in some areas. Bloomberg Businessweek published an article this week on aeroponic farming.  This is soil-less farming in which a farmer sprays a mist of a high-nutrient solution on plants to make them grow.  According to the article, this just recently became technologically feasible for commercial farmers.  You can read about it by clicking here.