The year of soil

The UN has a habit of making everything the “day of” something or the “week of” something. Sometimes these things are vitally important…other times they may leave you scratching your head. But did you know that 2015 is the YEAR of something? It’s something so fascinating, so life-giving, so truly crucial to our ecosystem that we often take it entirely for granted.


2015 has been designated the International Year of Soils.

Soil holds a special place in my heart. My name is Sarah Hoyle. Take the S, add it to Hoyle and you’ve got “Soyle:” my unfortunate elementary school nickname. Soil also holds a special place for my family. My family has several generations of farmers, so they know a thing or two about the dirt the plants sprout out of. But soil is more than just the messy stuff of mud pies and gardens.

What the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) wants people to realize through this year of recognition is just how fragile and sensitive soil can be. 95% of our food starts in the soil, but we rarely give this source of life the recognition it deserves. Soil holds a valuable place in the carbon cycle which affects global warming by containing and regulating carbon levels in our ecosystem.

Unfortunately, poor farming practices in many industrializing countries has led to desertification and decreased quality of soil. This directly effects the nutrition content of the food that is being grown. To combat this, the FAO has implemented its Climate Smart Agriculture program.

Coming from the FAO website:

“Climate smart agriculture (CSA) is a unified approach promoted by FAO to develop the technical, policy and investment conditions that support its member countries in achieving food security under climate change. CSA practices sustainably increase productivity and resilience to climate change (adaptation), while reducing and removing greenhouse gases whenever possible (mitigation).”

These practices are already having great positive effects in countries such as Tanzania and Kenya, training farmers in more sustainable farming practices.

Learn about the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)’s work to care for God’s creation.

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