Far from being just ‘dirt’ or ‘mud’ beneath our feet, soil is one of the most diverse ecosystems on our planet. Healthy soil is a life support system for much of the life on Earth.

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How can we Help Protect Soil?

One of the most effective ways to improve soil quality whilst preventing erosion and protecting soil’s ability to continue functioning well, is to increase the amount of organic material being put back into the ground. There are a range of organic farming methods, which are designed to help sustain soil health, such as using fewer chemical pesticides. This means  that the topsoil is not degraded so quickly.  In addition, fewer chemical pesticides mean that birds and other insect-eating creatures are more likely to live on farmland, providing a degree of natural pest control. 

Farming methods that cause less soil compaction help to improve the soil’s ability to absorb water, so preventing further erosion. Livestock can also be prevented from over grazing in certain areas, which both impacts the soil and removes protective plant coverage of that area.

Soil erosion can also be prevented by covering bare soil with crops that stay in leaf for longer or by practicing ‘no till farming’ allowing crops to stay in the fields for a season, meaning that the ground is not left bare. Protecting forests and planting more trees can also prevent soil erosion, as well as ensuring continued soil health. Farmers can ‘rotate’ their crops, choosing to plant a wider range of species over several growing seasons. Increased biodiversity improves the range of nutrients in the soil and helps prevent pollution caused by the need for fertilisers. 
People can also act on a much smaller scale. One of the things that individuals can do to help is to reduce the amount of food that they waste. This not only reduces the amount that has to be grown in the first place, it also prevents valuable nutrients from ending up in landfill sites where they cannot benefit the soil. By composting our food and garden waste instead, these nutrients can be returned to the soil.  We can also choose to use fewer chemical products such as pesticides in our gardens so that these do not damage the soil.

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