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World Soil Day Gives Cause to Pause at USDA NRCS California

Anita Brown (530) 601-6139
Tony Rolfes (530) 792- 5656

DAVIS, Calif., Dec. 4, 2019—Coming just a week after Thanksgiving this year, World Soil Day on December 5 offers a cause to pause and appreciate the life-giving resource beneath our feet. In California, World Soil Day falls within Healthy Soils Week 2019 (#HSW2019) so designated by the California Department of Food and Agriculture and celebrated by dozens of agricultural and environmental interests statewide

Carlos Suarez, state conservationist for USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service in California, says that over the past eight decades his Agency--founded as the Soil Conservation Service—has responded to many urgent natural resource needs. “This means that water (or the lack thereof), air quality, catastrophic forest conditions and other issues have sometimes demanded center stage. But for us, soil has always been central to our planning and our work.”

Today as World Soil Day urges us to Stop soil erosion, Save our future, this foundational resource is enjoying swelling public appreciation. Increasingly scientists and citizens alike are appreciating healthy soil for its role in making farms and communities more resilient by increasing water holding capacity and cycling nutrients with fewer inputs. Since 2017 in California, the power of the soil to sequester carbon and play a role in stabilizing our climate has resulted in state funding for demonstration projects and incentives for farmers using soil-friendly conservation practices. Most of these practices were developed by NRCS conservationists and refined over decades of working with local farmers.

World Soil Day was designated by the International Union of Soil Sciences (IUSS) to recognize "the importance of soil as a critical component of the natural system and as a vital contributor to the human commonwealth through its contribution to food, water, and energy security and as a mitigator of biodiversity loss and climate change." (Source: IUSS website). The designation was formally endorsed in 2013 by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations.

The NRCS California website this week highlights five soils stories that include carbon farming work by Resource Conservation Districts, a Lassen County soil health project with Pt. Blue on an 1862 ranch, Glenn County soil health pioneers, how wetlands super-charge carbon sequestration and California Farm Bureau’s Leopold winners in California.