Reprinted with permission from Soil & Mulch Producer News, May/June 2008 p. 13.
With the world gripped by a crisis in the costs and availability or basic foodstuffs, a new focus on the threats to the planet’s topsoil by unsustainable farming techniques and urban development has emerged, reported redstateupdate.net.
International Assessment of Agricultural Knowledge, Science and Technology for Development released a report in April that estimated that ‘global cereal demand is projected to increase by 75% between 2000 and 2050 and global meat demand is expected to double.” The researchers found, however, that farming methods that emphasize increasing crop yields have ‘in some cases had negative consequences on environmental sustainability.” The report’s authors said that over 2.5 billion people are affected by “significant levels of land degradation.”
The United Nations has said that soil loss is a contributing factor to malnourishment in impoverished populations. The National Academy of Sciences reported that US topsoil is disappearing ten times faster than it is created through a chemical and biological process that takes years. Topsoil is created at a rate of one to two inches every one to two hundred years.
David Montgomery, a geologist at the University of Washington told the Seattle Post Intelligencer, “The estimate is that we are now losing about 1 percent of our topsoil every year to erosion, most of this caused by agriculture.