The Baltic Sea Action Group organizes a Course to Save Our Soils, aimed at selected Finnish decision makers and held 14.-16. of August at Qvidja farm in Pargas. The course consists of lectures and firsthand lessons in the field, teaching the participants about the importance of healthy soil. A fourth course day will be held in Brussels later in the fall.
Healthy soil is the cornerstone of food security. In addition, it can sequester carbon from the atmosphere and retain nutrients. This is why soil plays an important part in the fight against climate change and eutrophication of the Baltic Sea. Soil is also home to an exceptionally diverse biota, which is responsible for providing the aforementioned ecosystem services.
”The Course to Save Our Soils highlights the significance of healthy soil both in the work against climate change and in the work for the Baltic Sea. The time to act is now, as soils are degrading at an alarming rate around the world”, says BSAG’s Chair of the Board Saara Kankaanrinta.
Current farming practices often favour monocultures, the use of inorganic fertilizers and pesticides, and intensive tillage. Inorganic fertilizers speed up the growth of plants but in the long run the soil deteriorates as its micro-organisms die. Unhealthy soil is not able to retain nutrients properly, and as a result nutrients leak into waterways and cause eutrophication. In addition, inorganic fertilizer industry relies on the use of fossile fuels and other nonrenewable resources.
”Actions done on land have an effect on the sea. By improving soil health we can also mitigate climate change, which is also one of the Baltic Sea’s biggest threats”, says Kankaanrinta.
Healthy soil can sequester carbon through plants’ photosynthesis and microbes. Storing carbon permanently into the soil is the only known way to reverse climate change. Agricultural practices should aim at improving soil condition. A living, biologically active soil sequesters carbon and retains nutrients, keeping them in the fields where they are needed.
”The collaboration between soil’s microbes and plants works best if we don’t weaken the ecosystem by monotonous land use. Both farming and forestry should favour a permanet vegetative cover, deep rooted plants, and polyculture in crops and crop rotation. Instead of a continuous conflict, we should work in harmony with nature”, states Kankaanrinta.
The course to save our soils is funded by the Finnish government’s key project funds.