When most people think of resources that are important to society, water, fuel/energy, and food are among the first ones that come to most people’s minds.
But, what we don’t consider is the importance of land and the soil both as a resource, and as a means of producing many other resources.
Why Land & Topsoil Are So Important To Society
A few of the reasons healthy land and topsoil are important to society are:
- We use land and top soil for food (both crops and livestock), fibre, fuel (biofuel), and medicinal product production. Arable land, which is fertile land, is very important for crops. So, we use land and soil to feed, clothe and provide energy to society – among other things.
- Farmers and others depend on land and soil to make a living, and employ workers – which in turn contributes to the economy
- We mine minerals and metals from the ground
- We develop cities and urban areas (including roads and infrastructure) on land
- Land and soil supports and surrounds the groundwater and above ground freshwater sources we withdraw water from
- Soils contain or support a lot of Earth’s biodiversity (some estimate a quarter of the total)
- Land supports the world’s forests, animals and ecosystems
- Land and soil can sequester carbon through plants and vegetation – playing a role in the carbon cycle and impacting climate change. Soils store more than 4000 billion tonnes of carbon. By way of comparison, the forests store 360 billion tonnes of carbon as woody biomass, and the atmosphere more than 800 billion tonnes in the form of carbon dioxide. (globalagriculture.org)
- Soil can store and retain water – which plays a part in areas that might be more prone to flooding or droughts
- Soil can filter water
- Soil recycles biodegradable materials and organic matter for us
It’s accurate to say that healthy land and soil is critical to many key social, environmental and economic goals.
With a growing population that will need more resources in the future, soil and land becomes even more important.
Benefits Of Healthy (& Non Degraded) Land & Soil
Some of the benefits that arise from healthy land and soil are:
- Better habitats and ecosystems for organisms and living things, and contributes to better biodiversity overall
- Better nutrient cycling between soil, plants and the things living and growing in soil
- Better water filtration, retention and cycling in the soil (which can help us conserve water)
- Soil can sequester carbon more effectively from the atmosphere via plants and vegetation, and this contributes to the carbon cycle and also to climate change in a positive way
- Can enhance crop quality for farmers
- Decreases the need for fertilizers, pesticides and agricultural chemicals – which in turn is better for the environment via less pollution and contamination, but also cuts some costs for farmers. Increasing the use of pesticides and fertilizers continually into the future does not look sustainable considering the yields of some crops are already showing continual signs of decreasing year on year
- Can reduce pests and diseases among crops and plant life (better biodiversity decreases the risk of pests and diseases)
There are also other direct and indirect benefits that arise from healthy and non degraded land and soil.
Land & Soil Degradation Pose A Threat Now & In The Future
Land degradation such as soil erosion, soil contamination, salinity and acidification all pose a present day and future threat to land and soil health.
It makes sense that we need to address these problems with this being the case
You can read more about land and soil degradation in this guide.