Europe’s eleven soil threats

Photo credit: Science Daily

In Norway, erosion caused by flooding and landslides, is a major soil threat. Here we see erosion in Trøgstad in the South-East of Norway.
Credit: Line Thomsen

European soil threats: What, where and why?

Source:NIBIO – Norwegian Institute of Bioeconomy Research


Over sixty soil experts have gone together and provided an up to date overview of European soil threats. The extensive report, which among other things provides information on the geographical spread of eleven soil threats, also addresses what kind of effect these threats may have on soil functions and ecosystem services, and why they occur.


Regenerative agricultural practices that protect soils


Make soil a solution to climate change !

Global leaders have gathered in Paris to negotiate a climate agreement that will influence climate actions throughout the world.  We have the science showing that organically managed soils have the potential to be a powerful ally in this process. On World Soil Day, IFOAM – Organics International calls on leaders to include regenerative agricultural practices that protect soils in their solutions to climate change.

Healthy soils are key to biodiversity, food security and play a fundamental role in fighting climate change. Carbon-rich soils are like sponges absorbing water during floods and releasing it during drought. Yet when soils are damaged, they release CO2. Organic farming puts carbon back into soils by keeping them covered with plants, increasing crop diversity, composting and carefully planned grazing.

We can heal the soil by transitioning to organic agriculture, ending their chemical-induced depletion and strengthening their potential as carbon-consuming sinks.

In a step toward ensuring this, IFOAM – Organics International has signed the “4 per 1000”(link is external) Initiative which aims to improve the organic matter content and promote carbon sequestration in soils through the application of agricultural practices. Other signatories include ministers from Australia, Germany and France as well as international organizations such as the International Fund for Agricultural Development and the World Resources Institute.

With the end of the International Year of Soils, IFOAM – Organics International calls on world leaders to put policies and incentives in place to empower farmers to make their farms resilient and become stewards of soils.


Contacts and Links

Read the text: IFOAM

Introducing new farming practices for carbon sink

Photo credit: SciDevNet –

Copyright: Dieter Telemans/Panos


Soil project seeks to soak up excess carbon

by Tania Rabesandratana

“It’s a bit of a scientific dream, but we have a lot of evidence that supports this dream.” Jean-Paul Moatti, French Research Institute for Development

Speed read

  • 4 Pour 1000 initiative aims to lock away carbon through better farming
  • It encourages simple steps such as tree planting and adding manure
  • Project hopes to do enough to offset all human emissions

France is leading a worldwide push to increase the amount of carbon locked in soils through better farming practices.

Supporters of an initiative launched at the COP 21 summit say this would limit global warming by removing carbon from the atmosphere, while also increasing the range and amount of food farmers produce by improving soil fertility. This would particularly benefit developing countries, according to representatives of the 4 Pour 1000 initiative.

“It’s a bit of a scientific dream, but we have a lot of evidence that supports this dream,” Jean-Paul Moatti, the chief executive officer of the French Research Institute for Development, one of the organisations behind the plan, said yesterday on the sidelines of the talks in Paris, France.

Increasing carbon stocks in the top 40 centimetres of soil by four parts per 1,000 (0.4 per cent) each year would compensate for carbon emissions from human activity, the project description says, provided deforestation is halted.

Read the full article: SciDevNet

Protect the soils that feed us!

Photo credit: The Ecologist

Soil is where our food comes from – so why don’t we look after it as well as organic farmers? Photo: Soil Association.


It’s time to celebrate and protect the soils that feed us!

by Peter Melchett

Almost all our food is grown in soil, writes Peter Melchett. Yet we are treating it like dirt: spraying it with toxic chemicals, depleting vital nutrients, and releasing its carbon to add to climate change. With World Soils Day coming up tomorrow, let’s change our ways – and renew our commitment to organic food and farming.

“The health of soil, plant, animal and man is one and indivisible.” Those are the words of Lady Eve Balfour, co-founder of the Soil Association and also its first president.

Written nearly 70 years ago, they still stand true in 2015, which also happens to be the International Year of Soils.

With good reason: soil is one of our most important natural resources. Soil takes up to 1,000 years to form just one centimeter. Yet we’re destroying it at a rapid pace: 10 million hectares of cropland are abandoned every year as a result of soil erosion and poor soil management.

Intensive farming practices are partly to blame. While it is true these practices increase yields, more rarely discussed is the fact that they do so at the expense of the yields and food quality of future generations.

After decades of ill-treatment, intensively farmed soils simply become exhausted of nutrients – an effect already observed in some UK arable soils. With 95-99% of our food coming from the soil, this has huge implications for a growing world population.

Soil is as important as air and water to life on earth

We need to take care of our soils for our nutrition and food security, not to mention the planet’s wildlife. The way we treat our soils is directly related to our ability to tackle the most important threats facing humanity – not just food security, but also climate change and environmental crises like flooding and drought.

Read the full article: The Ecologist


Soil indicators and SDGs

Photo credit: SciDevNet

Image credit: flickr/John Isaac, UN

  • Push for soil indicators to help monitor SDGs

    Speed read

    • The MDGs include just one indicator of land use and none of soil quality
    • This should change for the SDGs, say specialists, as they relate to many goals
    • Soil specialists can learn from climate scientists in changing policy

    A group of land and soil specialists has proposed three indicators to measure soil health that they say could help the UN monitor its future Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

    The UN’s Millennium Development Goals, which expire this year, include one indicator referring directly to land use (the proportion of land area covered by forest) and none related to soil quality. But things should change under the SDGs, which will guide global development efforts after 2015, say the soil managers in a statement issued earlier this month (3 March).

    The authors lay out a package of three indicators to track both biophysical and socioeconomic changes: land cover and land use change; land productivity change; and change in soil organic carbon. These topics deserve more political attention, and the UN’s Statistical Commission should include these measures in its list of indicators to monitor progress towards the SDGs, the authors say.
    Read the full article: SciDevNet


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