Author: The Rodale Institute | Published: September 13, 2017[pdf-embedder url=”https://regenerationinternational.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/09/ROC-One-Pager-9.12.17.pdf”]
Tag Archive for: Healthy Soils
Author: FAO and ITPS | Published: 2015
1.1 | The World Soil Charter “Soils are fundamental to life on earth.”
We know more about soil than ever before, yet perhaps a smaller percentage of people than at any point in human history would understand the truth of this statement. The proportion of human labour devoted to working the soil has steadily decreased through the past century, and hence the experience of direct contact with the soil has lessened in most regions. Soil is very different in this regard from food, energy, water and air, to which each of us requires constant and secure access. Yet human society as a whole depends more than ever before on products from the soil as well as on the more intangible services it provides for maintenance of the biosphere.
Our goal in this report is to make clear these essential connections between human well-being and the soil, and to provide a benchmark against which our collective progress to conserve this essential resource can be measured.
The statement that begins this section is drawn from the opening sentence of the preamble of the revised World Soil Charter (FAO, 2015):
Soils are fundamental to life on Earth but human pressures on soil resources are reaching critical limits. Careful soil management is one essential element of sustainable agriculture and also provides a valuable lever for climate regulation and a pathway for safeguarding ecosystem services and biodiversity.
The World Soil Charter presents a series of nine principles that summarize our current understanding of the soil, the multi-faceted role it plays, and the threats to its ability to continue to serve these roles. As such, the nine principles form a succinct and comprehensive introduction to this report.
Principles from the World Soil Charter: Principle
1: Soils are a key enabling resource, central to the creation of a host of goods and services integral to ecosystems and human well-being. The maintenance or enhancement of global soil resources is essential if humanity’s overarching need for food, water, and energy security is to be met in accordance with the sovereign rights of each state over their natural resources. In particular, the projected increases in food, fibre, and fuel production required to achieve food and energy security will place increased pressure on the soil.
Principle 2: Soils result from complex actions and interactions of processes in time and space and hence are themselves diverse in form and properties and the level of ecosystems services they provide. Good soil governance requires that these differing soil capabilities be understood and that land use that respects the range of capabilities be encouraged with a view to eradicating poverty and achieving food security.
Principle 3: Soil management is sustainable if the supporting, provisioning, regulating, and cultural services provided by soil are maintained or enhanced without significantly impairing either the soil functions that enable those services or biodiversity. Status of the World’s Soil Resources | Main Report Global soil resources | 5 The balance between the supporting and provisioning services for plant production and the regulating services the soil provides for water quality and availability and for atmospheric greenhouse gas composition is a particular concern.
Principle 4: The implementation of soil management decisions is typically made locally and occurs within widely differing socio-economic contexts. The development of specific measures appropriate for adoption by local decision-makers often requires multi-level, interdisciplinary initiatives by many stakeholders. A strong commitment to including local and indigenous knowledge is critical.
Principle 5: The specific functions provided by a soil are governed, in large part, by the suite of chemical, biological, and physical properties present in that soil. Knowledge of the actual state of those properties, their role in soil functions, and the effect of change – both natural and human-induced – on them is essential to achieve sustainability.
Principle 6: Soils are a key reservoir of global biodiversity, which ranges from micro-organisms to flora and fauna. This biodiversity has a fundamental role in supporting soil functions and therefore ecosystem goods and services associated with soils. Therefore it is necessary to maintain soil biodiversity to safeguard these functions.
Principle 7: All soils – whether actively managed or not – provide ecosystem services relevant to global climate regulation and multi-scale water regulation. Land use conversion can reduce these global commongood services provided by soils. The impact of local or regional land-use conversions can be reliably evaluated only in the context of global evaluations of the contribution of soils to essential ecosystem services.
Principle 8: Soil degradation inherently reduces or eliminates soil functions and their ability to support ecosystem services essential for human well-being. Minimizing or eliminating significant soil degradation is essential to maintain the services provided by all soils and is substantially more cost-effective than rehabilitating soils after degradation has occurred.
Principle 9: Soils that have experienced degradation can, in some cases, have their core functions and their contributions to ecosystem services restored through the application of appropriate rehabilitation techniques. This increases the area available for the provision of services without necessitating land use conversion. These nine principles lead to guidelines for action by society (Box 1.1). The guidelines are introduced with a clear statement of our collective goal: ‘The overarching goal for all parties is to ensure that soils are managed sustainably and that degraded soils are rehabilitated or restored.’ This opening statement is followed by a series of specific guidelines for different segments of human society. Future updates of this report will document our success in implementation of these guidelines, and in achieving the goal set by the signatories of the World Soil Charter.
Author:Wilson Walker | Published: June 7, 2017
California farmers and researchers are helping rethink approaches to climate change by reworking traditional farming practices.
At Green String Farm in Sonoma County, Bob Cannard grows produce for some of the most celebrated restaurants in California. “The soil is the foundation of all life, and it can hold so much carbon, and produce so much bounty,” says Cannard, walking through fields that might look overgrown.
This ground cover explosion, however, is entirely by design, because the life and death of these weeds will bring new life to this dirt. “It doesn’t all burn out in one year,” says Cannard. “You build carbon into your soil.”
That’s the big idea California will now invest in, moving carbon out of the atmosphere and back into our soil. This summer the state of California will spend seven million dollars encouraging farmers to embrace practices that would make their soil more carbon absorbent.
It’s just a trial program, but the practices that are being encouraged have already been adopted by many climate-conscious farmers. “The atmospheric carbon, bringing it in and doing positive things with it instead of frivolous or negative things,” explained Cannard, who has embraced the idea of so-called carbon farming for decades.
“I love that soil is becoming part of the story line, that people are saying the word out loud,” said a beaming Kate Scow, soil scientist with the University of California, Davis. Near the town of Winters, Scow and a team of researchers are conducting a 100-year study on how land responds to different farming practices.
Author: Ken Roseboro | Published: May 2017
A diverse group of farmers, food companies, scientists, non-profit and advocacy groups from more than 100 countries have joined together to support a definition for “regenerative agriculture,” as a way to rebuild soils, produce nutritious food and address the growing threat of climate change.
World’s Topsoil Could Be Gone in 60 Years
“Regenerative agriculture keeps the natural cycles healthy—like water and carbon—so that land can keep growing food and keep carbon and the climate in balance,” said Tim LaSalle, Ph.D., co-director of the Regenerative Agriculture Initiative at California State University Chico, who helped develop the definition.
Regenerative agriculture aims to rebuild the planet’s topsoil, which has seen massive losses due to poor soil management, chemical intensive agriculture and erosion. A report by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations says that, with the current rate of soil degradation, all of the world’s topsoil could be gone in 60 years—and with it farming.
“Forget climate change for a moment, do you believe in food? We need to regenerate the fertile field from which food is grown. Regenerative agriculture creates new topsoil, reversing the last century’s trend of destroying it,” said Tom Newmark, co-founder of The Carbon Underground, who is also an organizer of the initiative.
According to LaSalle, the word “regenerative” was chosen because “sustainable” has been rendered meaningless.
“It’s became watered down and was adopted by Monsanto,” he said.
Also, being “sustainable” is not enough to mitigate threats posed by climate change and soil loss.
“‘Sustainability doesn’t have meaning because we overshot the Earth’s capacity at the rate we are pulling resources out and polluting,” LaSalle said. “The climate is still going to heat, and we’re still going to lose soil. What’s sustainable?”
Creating a definition for “regenerative” also makes it more difficult for the term to be co-opted.
“I wanted to put a stake in the ground with the definition,” LaSalle said.
Some of the companies that signed on to the definition include General Mills’ subsidiaries Annie’s Homegrown and Cascadian Farms, Ben & Jerry’s, Dr. Bronner’s, Organic India and Nutiva, among others. Non-profits include Organic Consumers Association, International Federation of Organic Farming Movements, Rodale Institute and others.
“Reducing emissions alone cannot solve climate change. We must draw down hundreds of billions of tons (of carbon) to succeed, and restoring our soil is the only known path to do this,” said International Federation of Organic Farming Movements President Andre Leu.
Organic farming cooperative Organic Valley didn’t sign on to the definition but supports the effort, said Jonathan Reinbold, Organic Valley’s sustainability, research and grant manager.
WASHINGTON, D.C.— Building on innovative carbon sequestration practices that have been pioneered in Marin County, Congressman Jared Huffman (D-San Rafael) today introduced the Healthy Soils and Rangelands Solution Act legislation that would direct federal land managers to rigorously evaluate how to increase the amount of carbon captured on public lands.
In 2014, Congressman Huffman invited John Wick, the Co-Founder of the Marin Carbon Project, to testify in Washington before a House Committee on Natural Resources subcommittee. Wick’s testimony focused on his groundbreaking work in Marin with a consortium of ranchers, land managers, researchers, and others, to improve rangeland productivity and sustainability through careful research and demonstration. At that 2014 hearing, the first in Congress to explore the topic, Huffman and bipartisan members of the committee explored options to improve public land management and carbon soil sequestration.
“Addressing climate change is the greatest imperative of our generation and California has always been at the forefront of this fight. We have a real opportunity to put our federal lands to work in the fight against climate change, using the groundbreaking scientific work already underway in Marin and drawing from the important bipartisan support for these ideas that we’ve already demonstrated in Congress,” said Rep. Huffman.
“This legislation holds significant promise for advancing the health of American soils, and represents a triple-win; for working lands, for producers and consumers, and for the climate,” said John Wick, the Co-Founder of the Marin Carbon Project.
“As we employ every possible tool to address the climate crisis, our shared public lands must be a part of the solution. This piece of legislation will help us be innovative in how we implement that solution.” said Josh Mantell, Carbon Management Campaign Manager for The Wilderness Society.
“Healthy, resilient working lands are key to sustainable food production and carbon farming is integral to that. On our local ranches we see the results: Sequestered carbon, yes, but also taller grasses, better soil moisture retention and an overall healthier, more profitable working landscape. The opportunity for impact—on climate change and food production—if implemented on public lands across the country is tremendous and one we cannot afford to miss out on,” said Jamison Watts, Executive Director, Marin Agricultural Land Trust.
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