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World Soil Day: Distinguished Prof Speaks at UN Celebration
Kansas Ag Connection - 12/06/2017

Have you ever really thought about what lies beneath your feet? There are more living organisms in a mere tablespoon of soil than there are people on earth. Ninety-five percent of food is produced on our soils. Soil is a non-renewable natural resource in terms of the human life span as it takes as much as 1,000 years to form one inch of soil.

"Soil should be treated like royalty by all of us -- protected and nourished. Soil is a finite natural resource, and cannot be replaced in our lifetime once it is lost to dust storms, water runoff, or pollution," said Gary Pierzynski, university distinguished professor and head of Kansas State University's Department of Agronomy. He was invited to speak at World Soil Day 2017.

"Caring for the planet starts from the ground" is the theme for World Soil Day 2017. Healthy soils are key to: mitigating and adapting to climate change, reducing forced migration, improving nutrition, preserving biodiversity, providing clean water, and achieving food security.

World Soil Day is held annually on Dec. 5 to bring attention to the importance of healthy soil and advocating for the sustainable management of soil resources. World Soil Day has been held every year since 2002, when the International Union of Soil Sciences made a resolution proposing its creation. In December 2013 the United Nations General Assembly designated Dec. 5, 2014 as the first official World Soil Day.

The World Soil Day celebration takes place at the U.N. Headquarters in New York City. The event is co-hosted by the Permanent Missions of Columbia, Lesotho, the Netherlands, and Thailand to the U.N., the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, and the Secretariat of the U.N. Convention to Combat Desertification .

Pierzynski represented the FAO Intergovernmental Technical Panel on Soils at the celebration and announced the release of a report by the panel entitled "Global Assessment of the Impact of Plant Protection Products on Soil Functions and Soil Ecosystems."

In addition, the first ever Global Soil Organic Carbon map will be launched. Soil organic carbon is the main component of soil organic matter and represents a crucial link to overall soil health. Poor land management and removal of natural vegetation has caused a dramatic decrease in global amounts of soil organic carbon. Following the official release of these publications on Dec. 5, they will be available for free at

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