Topsoil and The Plight of The World’s Agricultural Industry

Flickr: rahego

The following is a guest blog written by Amy Fowler:

Many of us don’t really understand what topsoil is; let alone how vital it is to both animal and mankind.

Topsoil is the top layer of the earth’s soil. It is rich in nutrients and it is this soil we need in order for plants to grow. Without it, the world would be barren and uninhabitable. Not only does topsoil ensure we can harvest food to eat, but it also allows the trees and plants that absorb carbon dioxide and release oxygen to grow and flourish. Without it, we will die.

So what is happening to our topsoil?

Modern agricultural practices – ploughing, fertilisers, pesticides and even the burning of land – are destroying our topsoil faster than it is able to regenerate – much faster.

For topsoil to regenerate, plants need to leach nutrients from the lower layers of soil and bring them up into the topsoil. This is a process that needs nature to occur properly. As we repeatedly and aggressively farm a piece of land this process is interrupted and over time, the land becomes infertile.

 How fast is our topsoil disappearing?

This varies throughout the world – the topsoil in Australia is on average, lost five times faster than it can regenerate. In the US, ten times. In Europe, around seventeen times faster. Production-giant China is one of the worst affected – China’s topsoil is being lost at a rate fifty-seven times faster than it is regenerating.

Regardless of the variations according to country (though you will notice that generally, the more densely populated the country, the more affected it is) it’s safe to say that no part of the world will escape unscathed if something doesn’t change.

What can we do?

As individuals, eating less meat, eating more organic produce and if possible, growing our own foods will all help.

  • The Western obsession with eating meat at almost every meal has a devastating impact on the environment – not only do we destroy millions of acres of rainforest in order to graze livestock, but we  need to produce the food to feed these animals. This harms our topsoil far more than if we were to only grow food for human consumption.
  • We also need to reduce the food we waste. The developed world wastes a horrifying amount of food, much of it which is perfectly good to eat.
  • Changes in both law and consumer attitude could see us drastically cutting down on food wastage and thus, reducing the volume of food we need to produce in the first place.
  • Growing more food organically means reducing the chemicals we subject our topsoil to and if more of us become self-sufficient and begin growing our own produce, agricultural land will feel less of the impact of aggressive farming.

Written by Amy Fowler on behalf of organic topsoil suppliers, Garden Topsoil Direct.

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