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Op-Ed: Soil and water, a source of life

Celebrating World Soil Day
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Annual Rye Grass Cover Crop

World Soil Day 2023 (WSD) and its campaign aim to raise awareness of the importance and relationship between soil and water in achieving sustainable and resilient agrifood systems.

Damarys Mortenson, Indiana STC

Written by Damarys Mortenson, Indiana State Conservationist

Our planet’s survival depends on the precious link between soil and water. Over 95 percent of our food originates from these two fundamental resources. And this symbiotic relationship is the foundation of our agricultural systems.

However, in the face of climate change and human activity, our soils are being degraded, putting excessive pressure on our water resources. Erosion disrupts the natural balance, reducing water infiltration and availability for all forms of life.

Today, December 5, 2023, we celebrate World Soil Day.  World Soil Day and its campaign aim to raise awareness of the importance and relationship between soil and water in achieving sustainable and resilient agricultural systems. It is a unique global platform that not only celebrates soils but also empowers and engages citizens around the world to improve soil health.

The USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation District (NRCS) works every day with private farmers and forestland owners to help them conserve and protect our natural resources and conservation practices that address soil health is one of the best tools NRCS has to help them face these challenges.  Our staff works directly with landowners to maintain and improve their farm productivity with the use of soil management systems.  These sustainable soil management practices, such as minimum tillage, crop rotation, organic matter addition, and cover cropping, improve soil health, reduce erosion and pollution, and enhance water infiltration and storage. These practices also preserve soil biodiversity, improve fertility, and contribute to carbon sequestration, playing a crucial role in the fight against climate change. By helping farmers understand the importance of soil health we ensure farming operations continue and even thrive within this changing world. 

We hope you join us in taking the time to celebrate soil this December 5.  I can’t think of a better way to honor this living and nonrenewable resource than to increase the understanding of the importance soil plays in food security and essential ecosystem functions.

If you would like to learn more about improving the health of your soil, stop by the NRCS office nearest you to talk to a district conservationist or go online to www.nrcs.usda.gov/indiana. To learn more about the World Soils Day, please visit: https://www.un.org/en/observances/world-soil-day.

 

About NRCS:

USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service helps America’s farmers conserve the nation’s soil, water, air and other natural resources.  All programs are voluntary and offer science-based solutions that benefit both the landowner and the environment. To learn more about NRCS and what we do go visit www.nrcs.usda.gov/indiana.  Follow us on https://twitter.com/IndianaNRCS.