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Soil biodiversity in danger: why it is crucial to protect Soil


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From earthworms to nematodes, from mites to insect larvae, and fungi to bacteria, there are more than 7,000 types of species in our soils. According to The German Center for Integrative Biodiversity, you can find up to 1.5 kilograms of organisms living under a single square meter.

These hidden cities full of thousands of creatures, known as soil organisms, are crucial to creating nutrients from dead plants and animals to keep our soil healthy and grow new plant life. Without healthy nutritious soil, no new life can begin; no plants, no trees, and thus no crops. Without them, our environment is at a loss.

Our human footprint causes what's left of our healthy soils to face more challenges than many of us have ever realized. Healthy soil has become another victim of human impact on the earth (as it is infiltrated by pesticides and fertilizers) as well as water and wind erosion.

You may think that water and wind erosion cannot be caused by humans, but you would be – partially - incorrect: the soils are compacted and churned up over and over again by the cultivation of our heavy machinery. We are exposing our once healthy soil to the elements over and over again and relentlessly demanding it for more and more crop yield every year.

And then there's the impact of global warming on our soils. The warmer our climate becomes, the less moisture in our soil to keep it healthy… our soil is being battered and is slowly drying out, losing its ability to purify water and defend itself against plant diseases. If that wasn't bad enough, we are also losing our carbon buffer: soils are able to absorb almost 80% of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere; you need only imagine for a moment the catastrophic consequences we will face without this. According to the authors of a recent paper published on the subject in Science, aboveground biodiversity and food production cannot be guaranteed if we do not protect soils for the next generations. According to the German Heinrich Böll Foundation, around 24 billion tons of fertile soil are lost worldwide every year". And that is why scientists are calling for action.

layers+of+soil.jpg?format=1000w  

Yes, we can ban pesticides and warn people of the dangers of soil erosion, but what if we looked into maintaining soil biodiversity?

By protecting and encouraging life in our soils, they can naturally begin to restore the soil to be nutritious and at optimum health for absorbing carbon and growing crops.

So, what is to be done?

Soil conservationists have been looking into methods to ensure the protection of the organisms mentioned above. This means coming together with the Soil Biodiversity Observation Network, otherwise known as Soil BON.

Soil BON seeks to study and observe the happenings of soil organisms and predict the ways in which soil biodiversity might change, as well as detail the ways in which this affects soil and its' uses: "[They] make available the soil biological and ecosystem observations needed to ensure living soil resources are sustainably conserved and managed and can support essential human needs

The data gathered by Soil Bon will enable soil conservationists to know which soil types need the most protection by looking into soil respiration, nutrient turnover, and genetic diversity. 

It is still early days for the project, but the need to reconsider the ways in which soil biodiversity is currently protected is of great urgency. 

We've never needed to support the life hidden beneath our feet more. 

 

source:

https://www.universal-sci.com

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