New project aims to put soil at scientific forefront

Soil health not a new topic, but it’s been taken for granted

The U.S. National Farm Foundation and The Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation have launched a new website with a strategic plan for its Soil Renaissance Project launched on World Soil Day on 2013.

When the average person inventories humanity’s most precious resources, soil rarely makes the list. Yet without soil there is no agriculture, no food supply, no foundation for a global economy. Soil is life.

Healthy soil is key to a vibrant agriculture, clean water and air, and provides a home to micro-organisms that play a fundamental role in all ecosystems.

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Regardless of where one lives in the world, the crops produced, the farming systems employed or the size and scale of farms, healthy soils are critical to sustainable and economically viable agriculture and food production.

Yet there remains a gap in the fundamental knowledge around soil and soil health. Given the limited supply of soil in the world, understanding its functions, protecting its existence and maintaining its vitality is paramount. Thus Farm Foundation and The Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation have launched a new movement to advance soil health: the Soil Renaissance.

The Soil Renaissance focuses on the role of soil health in vibrant, profitable and sustainable natural resource systems, as well as the critical importance of soil and soil health in meeting the challenge of feeding nine billion people by 2050. The Soil Renaissance seeks to make soil health the cornerstone of land use management decisions.

Farm Foundation and The Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation are leading the Soil Renaissance, but collaboration will be the linchpin to its success. No single person or organization can fully address the diverse and complex issues of soil health across the nation and the world. Advancing soil health requires a sustained effort by all stakeholders.

The endeavour began in the fall of 2013 when 25 soil health thought leaders, working in industry, academia, research, government agencies and production agriculture, came together at the Noble campus in Ardmore, Oklahoma, to talk about soil health. The Ardmore Group identified the four pillars around which the Soil Renaissance is built: economics, measurement, research and education/outreach.

Those thought leaders then enlisted other stakeholders to help create the Strategic Plan. It is important to note that the Strategic Plan is a starting point that will evolve as work is completed, new challenges are identified and more individuals and organizations join the Soil Renaissance. The Soil Renaissance will serve as a central hub through which interested parties can learn about work in progress, gaps to be filled and ways they can help.

Soil health is not a new topic, it has just been taken for granted. The Soil Renaissance will bring this issue back to the forefront and expand the knowledge that will help sustain Earth’s most valuable resource.

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