Often ignored and seldom appreciated, the wonderful world of soil is not usually a topic of discussion or one that is cared about. But we want you to change that. Trust us on this, soil is critical to life. And no one understands that more than USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service. With an increasing global population, a shrinking agricultural land base and extreme weather events, Indiana NRCS is focusing their collective attention to the primary resource essential to food production—the soil.
Each and every one of us are in contact with soil every day of our lives. And yet, most people don’t realize that just beneath our feet lies a diverse, complex, life-giving ecosystem that sustains our entire existence.
The fact is, healthy soils are a critical element in lessening impacts from weather extremes. Healthy soils have greater water and nutrient holding capacity. In drought this can help ensure food, fuel and fiber production continues. In heavy rainfall, healthy soils can help avert flooding communities downstream and ensure soil and nutrients stay on the land and don’t end up in our rivers and streams. Most importantly, we are dependent on the health and vitality of our soils to grow nutritious food to feed our ever-growing population.
Conservation that works to improve soil health is one of the best tools NRCS has to help landowners face these challenges. Our staff works directly with landowners to maintain and improve their farm productivity with the use of soil management systems that includes cover crops, no-till and crop rotations. When used together as a system, these practices reduce sediment loss from farms, buffer the effects of drought, flood and other severe weather; sequester carbon and create biodiversity in our rural landscape. 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 – World Soils Day. 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.