Soil Health: You Can Help
Franklin D. Roosevelt said, "The Nation that destroys its soil destroys itself." Our civilization depends on the fertility of soil, yet soil scientist Daniel Richter says the soils of the world have been so changed by humans that it is now appropriate to call this the "Anthropocene (or man-made) Age". But what will this new stratum of soil foretell?
The immensely quotable Richter continued, "This is an old story writ large of widespread cropping without nutrient recycling, with the result being soil infertility," he said. "And agriculture is only part of the reason why soils are so rapidly changing. Expanding cities, industries, mining and transportation systems all impact soil in ways that are far more permanent than cultivation."
"Society's most important scientific questions include the future of Earth's soil." says Richter. "Can soils double food production in the next few decades? Is soil exacerbating the global carbon cycle and climatic warming? How can land management improve soil's processing of carbon, nutrients, wastes, toxics and water, all to minimize adverse effects on the environment? Each of these questions require long-term observation and analysis, and we know far too little about how to answer them in much detail," he said. "We need to work to sustain soils with a greater sense of urgency."
To study this immense and weighty problem Richter, a professor of soils and ecology at Duke's Nicholas School of the Environment and Earth Sciences, along with his colleagues throughout the world have established the first global network of long-term soil experiments. Their objectives are to raise awareness of how fundamental soil health is to our civilization, and to better coordinate the worlds research into soil science.
What more, the Long-Term Soil Ecosystem Studies on their front page asks for your help:
"We seek individual scientists, managers, & students, but also institutions & the general public to help build this inventory and network."
"If humanity is to succeed in the coming decades, we must interact much more positively with the great diversity of Earth's soils," said Richter's recent paper in the journal Soil Science. He couldn't be more correct, and is willing to interact with the world to get the job the done. For all of the soil geeks out there, follow the links to get started.