Dr. Chuck Rice International Year of Soils

(Chuck)The U.N.adopted December 5th as the U.N. Sanctioned World Soil Day. And the reason that the World Soil Day was designated as such was to increase the global awareness among the public about the soils and how important it is, not only for people but to the planet. Soils have a much broader function than just producing food. They help provide clean water, they help actually regulate floods, because when it rains that water soaks into the soil if it has good soil quality rather than run off and flooding downstream. It also regulates climate because carbon is stored in the soil, it modifies what’s in the atmosphere and it regulates climate. One of the biggest frontiers in soil science is micro organisms. If you take this spoonful of soil here in this one single spoonful there’s probably 10 billion different bacteria in that spoonful. Let alone fungi and algae that exist in that soil. Yet we only know one percent of those organisms. So, the big advancements in technology is now we are beginning to figure out who and what those 10 billion organisms are in the soil. Again, one of the under appreciated things about micro organisms in soil is how they affect human health directly. Eighty percent of our antibiotics actually came from soil. And if you look at cancer drugs, 60 percent of the cancer drugs are natural products, which, actually many of them come from soils. Soils come in all different colors, textures, we call them textures. Clay, silt and sand are the basic units of soil. A better soil from a farming standpoint is in the silt loams or silty clay loams. What that has is better, good infiltration rates for water to move in, but then it has a lot of organic matter, provides a good structure for root growth. And so silt loam, silty clay loams are good, productive soil. Starting December 5th of 2014 will be the kickoff event for the International Year of Soils for 2015. So, there will be campaigns, soil awareness, for public, for teachers, for kids that will occur for the whole year in making the public more aware of soil.

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