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Join the movement to create a soil renaissance!
By Edona Dervisholli, GHI Policy Intern
As the natural body that is the “skin of the earth,” soil receives the least amount of scrutiny as a viable source for agriculture, food supply, and as a foundation for a global economy. A forum hosted by the Farm Foundation on Wednesday, July 16, 2014 at the National Press Club, opened a dialogue to launch a soil renaissance and how this concept can help solve the world’s challenge of feeding 9 billion people by 2050.
What exactly is a soil renaissance? It’s a movement that shares the knowledge to sustain the earth’s most valuable asset. Healthy soil functions as a vital living ecosystem that sustains plants, animals and humans. The Soil Renaissance mission is to raise public awareness about the importance of soil health for bolstering healthy, profitable and sustainable natural resource systems.
This movement will follow a set of guiding principles to bring this issue to the forefront. Those guiding principles establish purposeful outcomes with measurable impacts and continuing evaluation and improvement. Objectives of the Soil Renaissance program include, among others, standardizing soil measurement, economics, education and research.
The forum panelists shared their rich insights on soil health. Each shared a model of what healthy soil can provide and how it can be improved to produce more food and agricultural products. Jimmy Kinder from Kinder Farms, stated that ‘short term sustainability can lead to long term sustainability,’ and it is important to begin now to implement the right actions to conserve and enrich soil.
Klaus Martens, a New York farmer, said that by changing the way people view the soil, we change soil quality by voluntary, locally-led, incentives-based conservation practices. Wayne Honeycutt, Deputy Chief for Science and Technology at USDA, also accentuated incentive-based conservation practices by including business models for smallholder farmers.
The health of the soil has been an important issue for many years, particularly after the crisis of the Dustbowl in the U.S. in the 1930’s and 1940’s. More recently, with increasing weather volatility and climate change, including drought in the American southwest, attention is again turning to the need to improve and conserve the soil resources. The Farm Foundation has taken a bold step to launch such a movement that will expand the knowledge and effort of sustaining the “earth’s skin” for many years to come.
The Global Harvest Initiative (GHI) has been a partner with the Farm Foundation since 2010, collaborating on education and research initiatives for improving the productivity of agriculture.