Wednesday, February 16, 2011

When the food runs out

"We talk about alternative energy; There is no alternative soil." Thus said Prof. John Crawford the University of Sydney Institute for Sustainable Solutions. He touched a nerve when he predicted that the world's soil will run out in 60 years recently in The Australian. "It is not to say that soil will disappear in 60 years, but when you consider the amount of topsoil lost in the past 100 years, that figure of 60 years starts not to look so daft."

The Australian report is optimistic about the reception that soil carbon methodologies will receive from the Domestic Offset Integrity Committee, the Government's gatekeeper: "A US Studies Centre conference in Sydney this month heard how Australia is at the forefront of the scientific understanding of soil carbon and how policy-makers here are ahead of the curve when it comes to thinking about ways to reward farmers for improving soil quality by building carbon content."

The urgency of the need for widespread adoption of soil carbon-friendly farm practices will eventually break down the barriers: John Crawford says soil health is at the root of most of the challenges that society faces in the next 30 years - food security, water supply, energy, climate change and health. "Soil is the basis for human health, and agriculture is the basis for civilisation and there is great historical evidence that most of the great ancient civilisations fell as a result of decline in their soil," he told The Australian. "What we need to find are incentives to start giving farmers the resources they need to manage the eco-system services that we've all taken for granted, and soil being the major part of that."

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