The Northeastern quadrant of Nebraska has experienced drought conditions during the past year. The severity is much like the dry conditions in California and much of the rest of the Southwestern contiguous states have endured. Needless to say, the drought has negatively affected agricultural production and the domestic economy.
Whenever I stroll through my yard, I see wide cracks in the topsoil. Although we have finally recieved a small amount of precipitation since September, evidence of soil damage is still visible. Most of my neighbors gave up on watering their lawns early on, even some whose yards have in-ground irrigation, turned off their units in the interest of conserving community water.
One of the problems with relying upon the whims of nature for agricultural output and plant health is that we can go from drought to flash floods overnight. While drought sets the stage for soil loss through dust storms, flooding directly causes soil loss through severe water erosion. Although droughts and floods exist beyond our control, there are techniques to lessen soil loss and damage. This is the thinking behind World Soil Day.
Top soils need a variety of conditions in the right amounts so as to be healthy. Good soil directly affects the quality and quantity of food crops and plants humans use for industry. Proper soil management goes beyond agriculture. Mindful wildland preservation helps preserve the viability of wildlife and the delicate balance of nature.
Soil degradation through natural wind storms, flooding, and over cultivation of crops threatens our food supply and our overall well-being. Soil quality directly affects critical global food supplies and sustainablility in our interdependent world. When we add the problems of pollution and soil contamination to natural processes, we greatly diminish food production capabilities. Toxic environments also bring about conditions partly responsible for global climate change.
World Soil Day was instituted by the United Nations to be commemorated on December 5th each year. The idea is to focus world attention on the necessity of healthy soil and to advocate in favor of sustainability. This year’s theme is, “Soils: Where food begins.” The focus is on the importance of maintaining healthy ecosystems and human well-being. The aim is to address increased challenges around soil management and awareness. The goal is to encourage societies to improve and enhance soil health and viability.
It’s important to remember the practical effects of unhealthy soil. Grocery price increases are the most obvious symptom. Food shortages become more common. Secondary problems include the domino effect of dying plants, leading to higher wildfire conditions, more pollution, and worsening environmental conditions, which further contribute to climate change, and human suffering.
It behooves us to support efforts to improve soil health through more effective, nature-friendly land management practices. The challenges will increase in the future, so we are wise to make proactive plans and changes right now, without further delay. Soil truly is where life begins and continues.
The Blue Jay of Happiness quotes early 20th century lawyer and reformist, Clarence Darrow. “The best that we can do is to be kindly and helpful toward our friends and fellow passengers who are clinging to the same speck of dirt while we are drifting side by side to our common doom.”