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International Year of Soils: November 2015

Soils and climate

By Diego Flammini,

As per the declaration by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, 2015 is being celebrated as the International Year of Soils.

Throughout 2015, soil has been in the spotlight, having its many uses and impacts on the environment highlighted including supporting agriculture, sustaining life and supporting recreation.

Different organizations have helped the United Nations celebrate soil in 2015 including the World Rural Reform and Soil Science Society of America (SSSA) – which produces a monthly video highlighting a specific theme.

November’s theme is “Soils and climate”.

As he’s done in the previous 10 months, SSSA’s Jim Toomey hosts the video, spotlighting the roles soil plays in helping keep global temperatures manageable.

“Recent studies have shown that carbon in stored in healthy soils,” Toomey said in the video. “Organic matter in soil holds large amounts of carbon which is a major component of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide and methane.”

Employing good agricultural practices, planting forests and restoring wetlands can help soil keep more carbon out of the atmosphere.

Another of soil’s functions is that it acts like an encyclopedia of past environments.

“Old buried soils called paleosols are ideal climate records because in many cases they’ve been isolated from current soil-forming processes and preserve features of the climate long ago.”

Paleosols can help determine whether an environment was wetter, dryer, hotter or colder based on the time they were formed.

Be sure to go back and visit the previous soil themes for 2015:

January – Soils Sustain Life
February – Soils Support Urban Life
March – Soils Support Agriculture
April – Soils Clean and Capture Water
May – Soils Support Buildings and Infrastructure
June – Soils Support Recreation
July – Soils are Living
August – Soils Support Health
September - Soils Protect the Natural Environment
October – Soils and the Produces We Use

Don’t forget to check back in December when the theme is “Soils, Culture and People”.

Join the conversation and tell us what you’ve learned about soil during the International Year of Soils. Have you applied any themes to your agricultural operation?

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