A course to save our soils!

Baltic Sea Action Group organized the first Course to Save Our Soils 14th-16th of August at Qvidja farm in Pargas. The course was funded by the Finnish Ministry of Environment, and participants were invited by BSAG. The goal was to illustrate the importance of soil health, and soil’s role in protecting the Baltic Sea and fighting against climate change. Healthy soil retains nutrients, and is able to sequester carbon from the atmosphere. Storing carbon permanently into soil is the only known method to reverse climate change.

The course addressed soil from many different perspectives, including the history of farming techniques and the lives of soil microbes. Participants also visited Qvidja’s fields where they studied the differences between fertile and unhealthy soil. Microbes were inspected with a microscope, and their multiple roles in improving plant growth and soil health were explained. Quests also got to take a look at the Carbon Action pilot project, which studies carbon sequestration from atmosphere to arable land.

Current farming practices rely heavily upon monocultures, the use of inorganic fertilizers and pesticides, and intensive tillage. This causes the soil to deteriorate, lets nutirents leak to waterways, and releases carbon from the soil instead of storing it. Degraded soils compromise food security, causing wars and other conflicts. Syria is a grim example of the suffering caused in part by soil degradation.

Land should be used in ways that sustain biodiversity, support nutrient cycling and biological nitrogen fixation, and speed up carbon sequestration. Permanent vegetative cover and diversity of species are essential for fertile soil. Healthy soil is also able to endure extreme weather conditions, which are becoming more common due to climate change. It prevents heavy rains from washing topsoil away from the fields, and on the other hand it protects crops from drought by retaining water efficiently.

Next Course to Save Our Soils will be held later in the fall in Brussels.

The course to save our soils is funded by the Finnish government’s key project funds.

“A nation that destroys its soils destroys itself”

Roosevelt, 1937