Soil fertility

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Soil erosion in Central African Republic

Protecting Soil Fertility: Protecting Life

Submitted by Coordination Team

There is much discussion in the development arena about the struggle ahead to feed the seven plus billion, of the methods proposed towards food security, building resilience, safeguarding water resources and so on. But few stop to ponder the basic ingredient in all of this: the very land under our feet, and the starting point of all agricultural productivity. At the European Development Days, EuropeAid hosted a Lab session dedicated to the relevance of soils in development policy, featuring the release earlier this year of the first Soil Atlas of Africa.

In many places, it can take up to 2000 years to create a mere 10 centimetres of fertile soil, which can be washed or blown away in a matter of hours in a severe storm, or depleted in a few years of poorly managed land and water use.

Soil profile -
Soil profile –

Across the planet, arable land is being diminished: for example, by urbanisation, mono-culture, farming on slopes, and deforestation. In 2011 alone, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations estimated that 24 billion tonnes of fertile soil was lost, at a time when the land needs better management in order to provide enough food for the exploding population.

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