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News Release

Salute to Soil Underscores Need to Focus on its Health

Jason Johnson

World Soil Day

DES MOINES, Iowa (Dec. 4, 2013)—It’s responsible for nearly all life on the planet, but rarely gets the respect it deserves. On Dec. 5, this living and life-giving resource is finally getting its day—across the state and across the globe.

The United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization will celebrate World Soil Day in Rome, Italy, under the framework of the Global Soil Partnership. The goal of the celebration is to raise awareness of the importance of healthy soils for food security, ecosystem functions and resilient farms.

The global focus on soil is being amplified across Iowa through the state’s Nutrient Reduction Strategy and the recent soil health educational campaign launched by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, called “Unlock the Secrets in the Soil.”  

“We work every day in every county to conserve and protect this vital resource,” said NRCS State Conservationist Jay Mar,  “so to us, every day is ‘soil health day.”

Mar said improving Iowa’s soil health has broad implications related to the vitality of our farms, the health of our planet and our ability to feed more than 9 billion people who will be living on Earth by the year 2050.

“Keeping soil healthy improves water and air quality, makes farms more sustainable and resilient, provides for wildlife habitat and reduces flooding,” said Jim Gillespie, director of the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship’s Divison of Soil Conservation (DSC). “One by product of healthy soils, is cleaner water. So focusing on soil health, will help Iowa meet its nutrient reduction goals as well.”

Mar said that while improving soil health has enormous benefits, it also has its challenges. “We know that every farm is different and has its own set of unique resource issues,” he said. “Fortunately, Iowa’s farmers are innovative and NRCS and DSC is committed to assist these soil health pioneers—to help make their farms more productive, resilient and profitable along the way.”

The conservation leaders agree that World Soil Day serves as a reminder to all of us that the promise of our future resides in the soil. “As we face mounting global production, climate and sustainability challenges, there is no better time to work hand-in-hand with Iowa farmers toimprove the health of our soil,” Gillespie said.

Those interested in learning more about the basics, benefits and promise of improving soil health, Mar said, can visit www.nrcs.usda.govto “Unlock the Secrets in the Soil.”