Healthy soil makes for healthy people, animals and plants; it provides the foundation for all life on land.
Soil gives us food, clean water, clean air, medicine, fibre and fuel, it’s also a climate regulator and buffer. All these vital services depend on a dynamic web of billions of organisms, which break down organic matter; this activity renews the soil and keeps it fertile and resilient.
But soil is under threat. Millennia of agriculture and other human activities have robbed our soils of life (see George Monbiot's article); from simple ploughing and overgrazing, to chemically based monocultures; to logging, mining and other consequences of urban and industrial growth. Today almost one third of the planet’s surface is classed as desert and a quarter of all agricultural soils have been lost. The remaining topsoil is depleted and could vanish within 60 years. The threat is therefore critical. Interconnected crises in climate, water, energy and the economy only add to the problem. We need holistic soil solutions now.
The good news is that we can restore our soils and, at the same time, solve other global challenges. The key lies in rebuilding topsoil to bring back life to the land. Although soil normally takes centuries to form, by applying methods that mimic nature, we can restore one or more inches annually. Such thinking and practices, often referred to as ‘regenerative’ or ‘ecological’, form the basis of Permaculture (1). These strategies are low-cost, scalable and sustainable. Some examples include:
Because so many ecological functions depend on healthy soils, by restoring soil life and fertility we help solve interrelated problems. Regenerative soil repair, if scaled up, can, for instance, address global warming, desertification and large-scale ecosystem damage, whilst providing solutions to hunger, poor diet, poverty, energy, pollution, drought and flooding.
Governments are starting to show interest (and here) as are NGOs, but these approaches need adopting everywhere. Join us in the call to restore our soils, become a Soil Supporter. There’s 60 years and counting, the future’s up to us. We can start on a small scale in our own gardens and communities. There are lots of ways we can support the soil.
How to participate
Ideas for the day can be found here.
Attend Permaculture Day Soil Events near you
Organise a Permaculture Day Soil Event
Ideas include: open gardens, demos and tours, workshops, talks and screenings; permablitzes, compost making, seedbombing, festivals and parties! More ideas here.