The United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) will declare 2015 as the International Year of Soils during the celebration of the first official U.N. World Soil Day on Friday. According to a U.N. press release, the campaign aims to generate awareness around the importance of soils for food security and nutrition and essential ecosystem functions.
In an interview, Farming First FAO representative Ronald Vargas stated that the initiative will integrate the issue of soil health into the larger question of global food security.
According to the FAO, about 25 percent of the land across the globe used for agriculture is highly degraded, and an additional 8 percent is moderately degraded.
"We spend a lot of time talking about crops and we spend a lot of time talking about livestock. We have big debates about all kinds of agriculture, yet we tend to ignore that it all depends on soils."Professor from the Imperial College London Sir Prof Gordon Conway told BBC News in a recent article.
The increase in global population growth, climate change and monoculture of agricultural crops has significantly degraded the planet’s soil fertility, making crop yields less productive and increasing the risk of desertification due to soil degradation.
According to a study by the U.N. University Institute for Water, Environmental and Health, the planet lost more than 62 million hectares of land last year because salt degradation which is equal to an area slightly smaller than the size of France.