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International Year of Soils in 2015

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The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) joined nations from across the globe at the 68th United Nations General Assembly to kick off the International Year of Soils Dec. 5, 2014. The General Assembly designated 2015 as a yearlong celebration for soils which will highlight the importance of soil in everyday life.

Soils are the foundation of agriculture, and we as a nation cannot produce food, fiber, and forage crops; hayfields; pastures; and forest lands without soils. In the face of mounting challenges such as a growing global population, climate change, and extreme weather events, understanding soil health, properties, and function  is critical to our future. At a recent kickoff event, Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack quoted President Franklin Roosevelt, “A nation that destroys its soil destroys itself.”

He went on to say “I think there is a bit of logic to that. This country of ours has been blessed with extraordinary soil and its capacity to produce is really one of the great miracles of this country and I think it is in part responsible for this country’s great growth and strength. But our soils in the U.S. and around the world are challenged. They’re challenged by a changing climate and its impact on soil health…..It’s a challenging time.”

The year of awareness aims to increase understanding of the importance of soil for food security and essential ecosystem functions. Soils play a crucial role in food security, hunger eradication, climate change adaptation, poverty reduction and sustainable development.

The U.N.’s Food and Agriculture Organization spearheaded the International Year of Soils campaign within the framework of the Global Soil Partnership.

NRCS works hand-in-hand with producers through technical and financial assistance programs and services to help ensure success. The agency was born during the Dust Bowl era of the 1930s, the nation’s largest environmental disaster caused by over cultivation, drought and record-breaking temperatures.

As America’s agency for soil conservation, classification and investigations, NRCS is excited that 2015 will bring worldwide attention to the importance of soil.

Learn more on International Year of Soils,