There is a reason for everything, including the delay in publishing my Nuffield report! The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations has declared 2015 the International Year of Soils. Healthy soils is the pinnacle of Agriculture 3.0; therefore it only makes sense that my report come out as part of this year’s goal to raise awareness about the profound importance of soil for growing food and achieving resilience.
The International Year of Soils reminds us that:
“The multiple roles of soils often go unnoticed. Soils don’t have a voice, and few people speak out for them. They are our silent ally in food production.”
– José Graziano da Silva, FAO Director-General
Soil is the miracle that we have been taking for granted in Agriculture 2.0. Soil health needs to be the focus of farming practices and the International Year of Soils is helping to bring back this fundamental basic.
Every year, the month of January is the time when most farm symposiums are held in Ontario. This year, I have heard over and over again that soil has been the centre of many workshops and there was even a new symposium this year called SoilSmart! This is very good news!
According to the FAO (Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations), more than ninety percent (90%) of our food comes from our soil. Twenty-five percent (25%) of this soil has already been degraded to the level where it can no longer support food production. Globally, this degradation continues at a rate of 10 million hectares of fertile soil lost each year. That is 30 soccer fields per minute. The majority of this degradation (75%) is due to the way in which we currently farm the land.
The soil is a sanctuary that needs to be protected. Farmers work within this sanctuary and engage in the miraculous forces of creation to nourish communities (from Food as Sacrament by Miriam Therese MacGillis published in Peck, A. 2008. Bread, Body, Spirit: Finding the Sacred In Food. Skylight Paths, Woodstock, VT, p. 8-11). When we begin to understand that we will never understand these forces and that we will never understand life, the humility that arises out of this will create a deep respect for that which sustains us, that which we will never fully know, the miracle of food and farming.
“We walk all over it, we trample it every day. We need it as much as we need the air we breath. There can be no life without soil and we are responsible for it.” (Let’s Talk About Soil video).