Maybe all these years you assumed that dirt and soil were synonymous. But, they’re not. What’s the difference, you may ask? Well, to use an analogy I recently read, “Soil is different from dirt like a lake is different from water. A lake and soil are both ecosystems. If part of a lake splashes on me, I say I have water on me, not I have lake on me. Likewise, if part of the soil lands on me, I say I have dirt on me, not I have soil on me.”
It’s not the dirt, but rather the soil, that I would like to focus my attention today. You see, most people don’t realize it but one of the greatest threats to global food security looking into the future is the loss of topsoil. There are some sobering statistics about soil loss that have occurred over the past several decades. Since the year 1950, the U.S. has been losing productive soil at an average rate of 600 square miles per year. That’s a lot of dirt!
In a recent article from Farm Futures magazine (July/August 2013), Howard Buffet had this to say about soil loss: “Today it is an economic, production, and environmental problem. Eventually it will be a food security problem.” He went on to say, “Because technology has kept us moving in the right yield direction, we are missing what is happening right under our feet.”
I know that many of you reading this blog are not farmers and so you may wonder what role you play in the future preservation of topsoil. As with so many things that are critical to the welfare of so many, today I ask you to simply be aware. Make note, as you drive down the road, of those little gullies cutting through a field and pause long enough to wonder to yourself, “where did that dirt go?” Because it went somewhere. And, the answer to that question, and more importantly, a solution to that problem, will have an impact on food security throughout the world for generations to come.
Today, my call to action for each of you is simply this: Be aware, my friends. Be aware.
Until next time,