Perhaps you have already heard the buzz about soils, and why everyone should be thinking about them this year, and every year; 2015 is the International Year of Soils! Just hop on Twitter and look up posts tagged with #IYS2015 – every day new photographs and articles are being posted. There has been a plethora of great pieces on the importance of soil, including ten things everyone should know about soil, Resources from the FAO (including the infographic below), the Soils Atlas, and another cool infographic form Mother Nature Network. There was a recent New York Times piece on no-till farming practices and how they benefit soils here, and the Guardian recently published a piece on how we depend on soils here. With more articles being published as the year progresses and various conferences and meetings taking place, there are plenty of ways to join in with the discussion.
The International Year of Soils is in full swing, with activities ranging from those geared towards professional soil scientists and soil ecologists to public outreach campaigns. To learn more about activities that are happening in your area check out the FAO calendar of events here. Do you have an interest in learning more about soils in an online course? Check out this free online course from Lancaster University here. Have an interest in reaching out to younger audiences? Check out the colouring book, children’s book, and card game from the Global Soil Biodiversity Initiative here.
What can you do for the soil?
Racking your brain for some concrete actions you can take to be more considerate of the soils beneath your feet? Taking small steps to be more mindful about your food consumption and food waste practices are good places to start. Compost food wastes to create nutrient rich compost to use in your garden beds – more information from the FAO here. Purchase locally-sourced food, and support local farmers and community supported agriculture groups (CSAs- more information here) to reduce the carbon footprint of your meals. Grow your own food – whether you live in an urban or rural environment a variety of gardening options are available: try growing fresh herbs in the windowsill or a large pot of cherry tomatoes on your apartment balcony. Educate yourself about the soils in your area and foods that grow best given your climate conditions here. Use that compost pile you have been building up to fertilize your garden, and you will have come full circle.
Get your friends, family, and children involved, because we all need food to survive and sustain ourselves. Take some time to appreciate the soils that fulfil such a fundamental requirement of our existence. Think about the little steps you can take to improve the soils in your area, or reduce your carbon footprint to help lead to a healthier planet.
Relena Ribbons is a FONASO Ph.D. fellow at Bangor University and the University of Copenhagen researching tree species effects on soils and nutrient cycling. She loves gardening. Find her on Twitter: @relenaribbons, on her website, or drop her an email: firstname.lastname@example.org.