Happy World Soil Day everyone!
We have recently reviewed some journal articles about soils, their management and how they impact food production.
Diana Wall and two colleagues wrote a perspective piece in the journal Nature published on 3 December 2015 relating human health in a number of areas (food production, water quality and pathogenic bacteria for example) to soil biodiversity. She was also interviewed for the Nature podcast episode published on 26 November 2015 where she discuses her article.
The perspective piece gives a broad brush view and some specific examples on how we impact soils and the diverse organisms that reside in it and the resultant effects those impacts have on our health and well-being.
Balance and precision in how we practise agriculture is the premise of Wall’s exhortation for science and farming to come together better to advantage us all:
“It is evident from the above that soil biodiversity can play a crucial part in providing a more stable supply of food and a higher nutritional value of the food produced. However, the intensification of agricultural practices in the last century has ignored this role of soil biodiversity. The cornerstones of agricultural intensification – ploughing, and the application of agrochemicals and fertilizer – have been linked to a reduction of soil biodiversity. We stress that these are beneficial practices that should not be abolished, but instead should be used at the right time, rate and place.”