World Soil Day 2020 -Keep soil alive, Protect soil biodiversity

“To Forget how to
Tend the Soils is to
Forget Ourselves” – Mahatma Gandhi

Soil provides essential environmental resources for life and provides a home to billions of species which contributes to biodiversity and contains much of the antibiotics used to tackle diseases. People use soil as a solid waste disposal plant, a drainage collector and a base for our towns and cities. Finally, soil is the foundation of our nation’s crop, food and fuel agroecosystems.

World Soil Day (WSD) 2020 Theme

5 December, World Soil Day (WSD), is a UN Observance Day celebrating fertile soils for a food-safe future. This year theme is “Keep soil alive, Protect soil biodiversity”  which encourages us to concentrate our attention on the underground workers, all of which contribute to processes that are important to life on Earth, from small bacteria to agile millipedes and slimy earthworms.

What is Soil Biodiversity and Why it is important?

Soil biodiversity refers to a range of non naked-eye organisms including micro-organisms such as bacteria, fungi, protozoa and nematodes , meso-fauna like acari and springtails, as well as the more familiar macro-fauna (e.g. earthworms and termites). Plant roots can in view of their symbiotic relationships with other components of soil, also be classified as soil organisms.

Microorganisms interact in the ecosystem, forming a complex biological web. Microbial communities are well known to play a key role in maintaining the health of the soil, ecosystems and production. The biodiversity of the soil may not be a critical soil for the production of a particular crop, but it could be a vital property for the soil’s continuous ability to support it.

The primary driving forces of nutrient cycling are soil species, controlling soil organic matter dynamics, carbon dioxide sequestration and emission of greenhouse gaseous materials, changing the physical structure of soil and water systems, enhancing nutrient acquisition by vegetation and improving plant health.

Some Key facts about Soil

  • Soil is a living resource that comprises more than a quarter (25%) of the biodiversity of our world.
  • Up to 90% of living organisms live or spend part of their life in soils, but only 1% of this hidden universe are known.
  • Soil organisms allow soils to store carbon and minimize emissions of GHGs.
  • One hectare of soil contains the equal weight of two bacterial cows.
  • Every 24 hours an earthworm can ingest its own weight in the soil. Every year 50% of the planet’s soil passes through the gut of earthworms.
  • Biodiversity of soils is an integral part of soil conservation. Healthy soils make food better and more nutritious. 95% of our food comes from soils.

Swikriti Dandotia