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Celebrate Our Soil

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Wrold Soil DayThe following op-ed is from Indiana State Conservationist Jane Hardisty on World Soil Day:

Happy World Soil Day!  December 5th is World Soil Day and it’s a great time for all Hoosiers to celebrate this Important and non-renewable resource.  Some of the best, most productive soils in the world are found in Indiana and the United States. 

Soil is one of our greatest natural resources and it plays a very important role in our lives every day.  And yet, since our soil is underfoot, it is often taken for granted.  We build on the soil—our homes, businesses, schools, roads and farms all depend on it for their foundation, but more importantly, soil is the foundation for our food, feed, fiber, and fuel production.  In fact, ninety-five percent all of our food comes from the soil.Jane Hardisty-10

Even though soil is one of our greatest natural resources, it is threatened.  Organic matter once found in our soils decreased significantly when early settlers converted native prairies, grasslands and forests to farms and towns.  Soil erosion, which washes off or blows away highly productive topsoil, is still a concern.  The amount of naturally fertile soils available for food production is also at risk as urban development causes the loss of 3.5 acres of farmland every minute in the United States. 

But there is good news.  Most of the soil in Indiana is on private lands, so whether you are a gardener, farmer, or forest owner, you can do your part to protect and even restore soil health again.  Keep the soil covered with growing plants or residue; use a diverse mixture of plants; rotate your plants or crops; and use other conservation practices like no-till.  All of these practices can increase organic matter and improve the health of your soil regardless of your soil type. 

Soil is a limited resource.  Maintaining and improving our soil resource is needed to meet our future food, water and energy security so let’s stop treating our soil like dirt and give it the respect it deserves. 

The Natural Resources Conservation Service works every day with private landowners to help them conserve and protect our natural resources in Indiana.  If you would like to learn more about improving the health of your soil contact a district conservationist in your county.  

Source: Indiana NRCS