Soil is an essential resource and a vital part of the natural environment from which most of the global food is produced. At the same time, soil provides living space for humans, as well as essential ecosystem services, which are important for water regulation and supply, climate regulation, biodiversity conservation, carbon sequestration and cultural services. But soils are under pressure from increases in population, higher demands for food and competing land uses. Approximately 33% of our global soils are degraded and policy makers around the world are exploring opportunities to embrace sustainable development via the sustainable development goals.
An Often Neglected Resource
Although the importance of soils seems clear, in the past it has not received due attention in terms of its use and management, since soils were often considered an infinite resource that will always be able to provide us with its ecosystem services. However, this is not the case and there is an urgent need to raise awareness on the importance of soil, especially the need to protect soils and use them sustainably.
The World Soil Day was introduced by the Global Soil Partnership, which was established in December 2012 by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) as a mechanism to develop a strong interactive partnership and enhanced collaboration and synergy of efforts between all stakeholders. From land users through to policy makers, one of the key objectives of the GSP is to improve the governance and promote sustainable management of soils.
At Farmfolio we recognize the importance of sustainable soil management by making sure the soil structure of the projects we chose to work with is not degraded and provides a stable physical context for movement of air, water and heat, as well as root growth. Both in Colombia and Panama, we are constantly controlling that the availability and flows of nutrients are appropriate to maintain or even improve soil fertility and productivity. In addition to this, we take the risks of salinization, sodification and alkalization very seriously.
As to the use of water, we believe that a conscious and well-structured water management strategy should be the centerpiece of any agriculture project. Water from precipitation and irrigation is efficiently infiltrated and stored to meet the requirements of our crops, while ensuring that all excess water is respectively drained. Farmfolio’s management system for producing pineapples, coconuts, grass for the cattle and teak relies on an optimized and safe use of inputs. In order to keep contaminants below toxic levels, we avoid the use of chemical pesticides as much as possible. We are convinced that soil biodiversity provides a full range of biological functions that benefit the environment and thus, our products too.
If all countries and companies were to respect a set of guidelines to protect World soil, we could all benefit for many more generations from this essential but finite resource. In times of increased urbanization, higher sea levels and global warming, we need to raise awareness about the immense relevance of soil in our lives!