The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) kicked off its celebration of the International Year of Soils on Jan. 6 to highlight the importance of healthy soils for food security, ecosystem functions and resilient farms and ranches.
“Healthy soil is the foundation that ensures working farms and ranches become more productive, resilient to climate change and better prepared to meet the challenges of the 21st century,” Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said during an event at the USDA headquarters. “We join the world in celebrating this living and life-giving resource.”
With an increasing global population, a shrinking agricultural land base, climate change and extreme weather events, the nations of the world are focusing their collective attention to the primary resource essential to food production – the soil. The United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), working within the framework of the Global Soil Partnership, spearheaded the adoption of a resolution by the UN General Assembly designating 2015 as the International Year of Soils. The year of awareness aims to increase global understanding of the importance of soil for food security and essential ecosystem functions.
“Most people don’t realize that just beneath our feet lies a diverse, complex, life-giving ecosystem that sustains our entire existence,” said Jason Weller, chief of the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). “We are helping producers unlock the power of soil health as part of an important and very successful national campaign. Our campaign demonstrates our renewed commitment to soil conservation and soil health.”
NRCS is coordinating activities to mark USDA’s involvement in the International Year of Soils. Nearly 80 years ago, the NRCS, formerly the Soil Conservation Service, was created to improve the health and sustainability of our nation’s soils. The agency’s original mission continues to this day – providing assistance to producers looking to improve the health of the soil on their land.
Working with the Soil Science Society of America (SSSA) and other partners, the NRCS will be showcasing the importance of soil with monthly themes created by the SSSA:
- January: Soils Sustain Life
- February: Soils Support Urban Life
- March: Soils Support Agriculture
- April: Soils Clean and Capture Water
- May: Soils Support Buildings/Infrastructure
- June: Soils Support Recreation
- July: Soils Are Living
- August: Soils Support Health
- September: Soils Protect the Natural Environment
- October: Soils and Products We Use
- November: Soils and Climate
- December: Soils, Culture and People