World Soil Day: The Vital Role of Soil Health in Mitigating Climate Change

Often dismissed as mere Earth surface dirt, soil is, in reality, a intricate symbiotic system encompassing organic matter, minerals, gases, liquids, and living organisms.

Discussions and campaigns at the COP28 climate summit underscore the importance of soil health, a seemingly abundant resource that requires attention. Despite its apparent simplicity, soil plays a pivotal role in sustaining life.

Soil, often considered as Earth’s surface dirt, is, in reality, a complex symbiotic system comprising organic matter, minerals, gases, liquids, and living organisms. This intricate web of components supports all forms of life, from animals to humans. Organic content, such as humus and living organisms, transforms soil into a vibrant and essential component of our ecosystem.

Serving as the foundation for life, soil provides the basis for food production, water purification, flood protection, drought resistance, and essential mineral provision. Moreover, soil is a key player in climate change mitigation, capturing and storing substantial amounts of carbon. Without healthy soil, the very foundation of food security—the fundamental necessity for survival—is jeopardized.

Scientific studies indicate that we have a limited supply of soil for only 80 to 100 more crops—roughly 45 to 60 years at most. In the next 30 years, a significant food crisis is anticipated, coinciding with a global population exceeding 9 billion.

Commemorated annually on December 5, World Soil Day 2023 focuses on the theme ‘Soil and Water, a Source of Life.’ The United Nations emphasizes the critical interdependence of soil and water, as these resources contribute to over 95% of our food supply. Soil water, essential for nutrient absorption by plants, forms the backbone of our agricultural systems.

The primary objective of World Soil Day is to underscore the importance of maintaining healthy soil and adopting sustainable soil resource management. It serves as a call to action, raising awareness about soil health and urging governments worldwide to formulate policies addressing soil-related challenges.

Healthy soil emerges as a key solution in the battle against climate change. Alarming rates of soil degradation, driven by factors like agriculture and deforestation, threaten our topsoil globally. Currently, 52% of agricultural land is already degraded. If this trend persists, life as we know it may be at risk.

India, recognizing the critical role of soil health in combating climate change, has consistently prioritized this issue. Initiatives such as promoting organic farming and the implementation of the soil health card showcase the government’s commitment to benefiting farmers while managing soil health and resources. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has actively advocated for organic farming and sustainable agriculture. The Indian government’s focus on chemical-free soil, preservation of soil organic matter, maintaining soil moisture, mitigating damage from declining groundwater levels, and controlling soil erosion shows its dedication to addressing soil-related challenges for a sustainable future.

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