Did you know that 2015 is the “International Year of the Soil”? The United Nations made this declaration on December 5th, 2014, which was the first ever World Soil Day. The UN pointed out that by the year 2050, the amount of food producing land available per person will be a quarter of what it was in 1960!  Globally, one third of the best soil is being lost through expanding urbanization and mismanagement (erosion, compaction, organic matter depletion, etc.).  Restoration or rehabilitation of a soil should never be considered an alternative to soil protection and conservation.  Aggregate stability achieved through cover crops, extended rotations, and conservation tillage with the goal of 30% residue cover will provide strong resistance to erosion and improve water infiltration.

For those on the front lines dealing with soil every day, let’s remember to focus and take responsibility for soil care.  Soil care can pay large dividends when your crops are exposed to weather extremes like drought or high rainfall amounts.  

Three fun facts about healthy soil:

  •          70% of compaction occurs the first time you drive over the field – no matter what weight you are carrying (Frank Gibbs, Soil Scientist, Wetland & Soil Consulting Services)
  •          Five earthworms per spade full of soil would demonstrate excellent soil health (Frank Gibbs)
  •          A teaspoon of productive soil can contain between 100 000 to 1 billion bacteria (Elaine Ingham, Oregon State University)

Kirk Van Will, CCA-ON, Maizex Seeds Yield Specialist, West Middlesex & Lambton Counties
Twitter: @KirkVanWill