International Year of Soils; Focus on conservation and sound management
World Soil Day, and the launch of the '2015 International Year of Soils,' is just around the corner, on Dec. 5, according to officials within Texas Tech's College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources. Numerous key events related to soils are already taking place around the globe.
Advocacy, awareness raising, and education are at the core of this international year with theme, 'Healthy soils for a healthy life,' said David Weindorf, Tech's B.L. Allen Endowed Chair of Pedology in the Department of Plant and Soil Science. The year aims to increase knowledge and understanding about the importance of soil for food security, climate change adaptation and mitigation, essential ecosystem services, poverty alleviation, and sustainable development.
A little background may be necessary here. The 68th United Nation's General Assembly declared 2015 the International Year of Soils. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations has been nominated to implement the plan within the framework of the Global Soil Partnership and in collaboration with governments and the secretariat of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification. The project aims to increase awareness and understanding of the importance of soil for food security and essential ecosystem functions.
The specific objectives are to:" Raise full awareness among civil society and decision makers about the profound importance of soil for human life" Educate the public about the crucial role soil plays in food security, climate change adaptation and mitigation, essential ecosystem services, poverty alleviation and sustainable development" Support effective policies and actions for the sustainable management and protection of soil resources" Promote investment in sustainable soil management activities to develop and maintain healthy soils for different land users and population groups" Strengthen initiatives in connection with the SDG process (Sustainable Development Goals) and Post-2015 agenda" Advocate for rapid capacity enhancement for soil information collection and monitoring at all levels (global, regional and national)
Tech's Department of Plant and Soil Science has a long and storied history of research and education excellence with regard to soils, Weindorf said. The faculty includes specialists in soil chemistry, soil fertility, soil microbiology, soil physics, and pedology, which is the morphological description and taxonomic classification of soils.
For example, he said, Tech's Soils Judging Team has won the regional collegiate soils judging contest 21 times and the national contest four times since 1960. Faculty members in the department actively conduct research with state-of-the-art instrumentation in conjunction with several federal agencies (USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, USDA Agricultural Research Service) and private companies. And, faculty and students alike are taking the knowledge gained from research activities and disseminating it all over the world.
Jennifer Moore-Kucera, an associate professor of soil microbiology at Tech noted, "Soil is a living system at the interface of the atmosphere, biosphere, hydrosphere, and lithosphere. It sustains all life and we need to revisit how we treat it. It is not dirt, but rather the epicenter of all ecosystem health."
By NORMAN MARTIN
CONTACT: Eric Hequet, Department Chair, Department of Plant and Soil Science, Texas Tech University at (806) 742-2838 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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Editor: Norman Martin
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