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Our Soil is Bad. Are We Doomed?

Our Soil is Bad. Are We Doomed?

Leading soil scientists conducted a large review on the quality and condition of today's soil, and the results are not encouraging. In fact, the quality of our soil could become a huge threat to our food supply in the next century.

A new review published in the journal Science from top soil scientists paints a pretty dire picture of the condition of the world’s soil. The leaching of vital nutrients and erosion, both partly due to industrial agriculture, are seen as so severe that the review claims we may be reaching a plateau of just how much food our planet can produce. Without significant change to the way we treat our soil, this might be as good as it ever gets.

Soil isn’t a particularly sexy thing to investigate, but for the vast majority of farmers (excluding those using, say, hydroponics), soil is everything. And the review indicates that we haven’t been great stewards. “Ever since humans developed agriculture, we’ve been transforming the planet and throwing the soil’s nutrient cycle out of balance,” says the paper’s lead author, Ronald Amundson, a professor of environmental science, policy and management at the University of California, Berkeley, in a press release.