By Chris Arsenault
ROME (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Generating three centimeters of top soil takes 1,000 years, and if current rates of degradation continue all of the world's top soil could be gone within 60 years, a senior UN official said on Friday.
About a third of the world's soil has already been degraded, Maria-Helena Semedo of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) told a forum marking World Soil Day.
The causes of soil destruction include chemical-heavy farming techniques, deforestation which increases erosion, and global warming. The earth under our feet is too often ignored by policymakers, experts said.
"Soils are the basis of life," said Semedo, FAO's deputy director general of natural resources. "Ninety five percent of our food comes from the soil."
Unless new approaches are adopted, the global amount of arable and productive land per person in 2050 will be only a quarter of the level in 1960, the FAO reported, due to growing populations and soil degradation.
Soils play a key role in absorbing carbon and filtering water, the FAO reported. Soil destruction creates a vicious cycle, in which less carbon is stored, the world gets hotter, and the land is further degraded.
"We are losing 30 soccer fields of soil every minute, mostly due to intensive farming," Volkert Engelsman, an activist with the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements told the forum at the FAO's headquarters in Rome.
"Organic (farming) may not be the only solution but it's the single best (option) I can think of."
Original article found here: http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/only-60-years-of-farming-left-if-soil-degradation-continues/
I started to eat organic food because I was concerned for my own health/performance. Soon I realized how important it was for the health of my friends and family, too. Then long before this article was released, I came to the conclusion that organic/sustainable farming practices are essential for health of our world. The cost to both our personal and our global environment is one which we are only now beginning to fully understand. Books like Farmers of Forty Centuries along with countless other works and studies prove that industrialized, chemical farming is not only detrimental; it's unnecessary and even counterproductive to feeding the Earth's growing population. Mixed use farming and traditional practices of crop rotation and soil conservation can meet the current and future demand for food and water--both of which are wasted in our current system of agriculture. So if you can at all afford it, go out of your way to support organic and sustainable farming practices. Your wallet is your voice. And as I say all the time: you can pay for organic food now or you can pay for it later.
Oh...wait--there might not be a later...