World Soil Day (WSD) is held annually on 5 December as a means to focus attention on the importance of healthy soil and to advocate for the sustainable management of soil resources.
An international day to celebrate soil was recommended by the International Union of Soil Sciences (IUSS) in 2002. Under the leadership of the Kingdom of Thailand and within the framework of the Global Soil Partnership, FAO has supported the formal establishment of WSD as a global awareness raising platform. The FAO Conference unanimously endorsed World Soil Day in June 2013 and requested its official adoption at the 68th UN General Assembly. In December 2013, the UN General Assembly responded by designating 5 December 2014 as the first official World Soil Day.
World Soil Day 2021: Focus area – Soil Salinization
Soil salinization: a threat to our global pantry
Have you ever seen white crusts on soil? Yes, it is what you think. Soils can be salty. Salts are present naturally in soils and water, and they move freely through the soil. Naturally saline soils may support rich ecosystems, but natural processes such as droughts and human activities, especially improper irrigation, can increase how many salts are in soils, a process that is called salinization. Soil salinization breaks down our soils and reduces their ability to help our food grow.
Soil salinization and sodification are major soil degradation processes threatening ecosystem and are recognized as being among the most important problems at a global level for agricultural production, food security and sustainability in arid and semi-arid regions.
Salt-affected soils have serious impacts on soil functions, such as in the decrease in agricultural productivity, water quality, soil biodiversity, and soil erosion. Salt-affected soils have a decreased ability to act as a buffer and filter against pollutants. Salt-affected soils reduce both the ability of crops to take up water and the availability of micronutrients. They also concentrate ions that are toxic to plants and may degrade the soil structure.
World Soil Day 2021 (#WorldSoilDay) and its campaign “Halt soil salinization, boost soil productivity” aims to raise awareness of the importance of maintaining healthy ecosystems and human well-being by addressing the growing challenges in soil management, fighting soil salinization, increasing soil awareness and encouraging societies to improve soil health.
Did you know?
- Soil salinization takes up to 1.5 million ha of farmland per year from production
- The annual loss in agricultural productivity caused by salinization is estimated to be of US$ 31 million
- It is estimated that there are more than 833 million hectares of salt-affected soils around the globe (8.7% of the planet)
Video: Salt-affected soils: discovering a missed reality
Activity book: Salty experiments with soil for children and guide for teachers
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