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Examining Soil Health Perceptions in North American Agriculture

Updated: Jul 16, 2021

Soil Health and Its Importance

Soil health is defined as the “continued capacity of soil to function as a vital living ecosystem that sustains plants, animals, and humans”*. Soil is a resource shared between generations, and managing soil health is crucial for its longevity and sustainability for future generations.

There is growing concern about the abundance and quality of the top soil remaining on our planet. Pictured below, top soil is the uppermost 6-10 inches of the soil profile. Almost 95% of our food is grown in top soil. Maria Helena-Semedo of the FAO stated that “...if current rates of degradation continue, all of the world’s top soil could be gone in 60 years”*. A lack of top soil will drastically decrease our ability to feed people, and the food that is grown would likely provide fewer vital nutrients*.

Image: Layers of the Soil Horizon

Farmers and agricultural workers have an important role to play in the management of soil quality. After all, they are stewards of the land we grow on. But this begs the question, does the agriculture industry share the same concerns about soil health as researchers? Thanks to a survey performed by Soil Health Nexus, a university-led agricultural research team in the United States, we can analyze differing opinions from various audiences in the agriculture industry*.

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