Industrial Farming Has Caused So Much Soil Erosion We Only Have 60 Years of Farming Left, Says UN

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The United Nations has issued a serious warning about the world’s top soil, vital for agriculture. Most current farming methods are so destructive, leading to top soil erosion, that the agency says it could become completely depleted within 60 years, creating serious food production issues.

One-third of the world’s top soil has already eroded and it takes approximately 1,000 years for three centimeters of top soil to be created.

"We are losing 30 soccer fields of soil every minute, mostly due to intensive farming," Volkert Engelsman, an activist with the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements told the World Soil Day forum at the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization headquarters in Rome, according to Reuters.

"Soils are the basis of life," said Semedo, FAO's deputy director general of natural resources. "Ninety five percent of our food comes from the soil."

So many agricultural practices rely on chemical-intensive techniques that cause soil erosion, and according to Reuters, deforestation and global warming are also contributing to top soil erosion: “The earth under our feet is too often ignored by policymakers.”

Now, the UN’s FAO says that unless “new approaches are adopted, the global amount of arable and productive land per person in 2050 will be only a quarter of the level in 1960,” Reuters explained.

Global warming is directly linked to healthy top soil as it absorbs carbon and filters water. According to Reuters, “soil destruction creates a vicious cycle, in which less carbon is stored, the world gets hotter, and the land is further degraded.”

And according to Engelsman, organic farming is the single best method we have available right now to help produce healthy top soil for future generations. While organic farming continues to gain popularity, it still represents a tiny fraction of farming methods. In the U.S., it’s under ten percent.

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