An ode to the life beneath our feet on World Soil Day 2019

 

On Thanksgiving Day, my Dad fought the post-meal sleepiness to head out to the field and tend some of our family’s cover crops. I rode along in the tractor’s extra seat as he explained that the living organisms bustling in the soil of his fields needed their dinner to be happy too. 

And it’s important to keep our soil happy. Not only does it grow the food that supplies our holiday dinners, it also has the potential to save the planet. With the right soil health practices, like cover crops, the soil on our nation’s farms and ranches can draw large amounts of carbon out of the air, mitigating climate change and ensuring that we celebrate future holidays.

The practices that build up our soil’s health can also help build up farmers’ operations who deploy them. AFT found that when you take care of the soil it takes care of you, bringing higher yield counts and profits. With support from a competitive UDSA-NRCS Conservation Innovation Grant, AFT staff interviewed four “soil health successful” farmers about the costs and benefits they attribute to their soil health practices. What we found is that soil health practices aren’t just food for the environment, they increase income and productivity for the farmers who implement them 

This is an issue AFT feels so passionate about that we’re bringing it directly to the halls of Congress. In October, AFT climate director Dr. Jennifer Moore-Kucera testified before the House Subcommittee on the Climate Crisis where she called on Congress to support agriculture as a key partner in fighting climate change.   

So, soil is a big deal for our lives, livelihoods, food security, and economy, and today is its big day. Today is World Soil Day, and though the radio stations and department stores have skipped ahead to festivities later in December, we at AFT want to pause and recognize the unsung heroes beneath our feet. 

As part of our ode to soil, I want to reiterate the importance of protecting it. Every minute we lose three acres of farmland in this country. Each acre is inches-full of lost potential to feed us or provide the environmental benefits we all desperately need.  

On this World Soil Day, help us protect our farmland and ranchland so its soil can keep helping us. 

New in 2019

Thanks to Food Tank for recognizing American Farmland Trust as one of “15 Organizations Creating Healthier Soil to Save the Planet” in 2019!

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About the Author
Brennan Hafner

Writer and Editor

bhafner@farmland.org

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