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Grounded: Why soil matters to the health of the planet and us

  • Infographic byFood and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations
  • Writing byTodd Reubold
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The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization has designated 2015 the International Year of Soils, and with good reason. As this infographic shows, a whopping 95 percent of our food comes from soil — which, if sustainably managed, could produce 58 percent more food globally.

There’s cause for concern, though. FAO concludes 33 percent of our soils are already degraded, meaning the physical, chemical and biological structure has broken down due to overuse, erosion, contamination and other factors. Experts the FAO consulted go so far as to predict we only have 60 years of healthy topsoil left on the planet.

Whether this prediction holds true depends on decisions we make today related to agriculture, urban expansion, pollution prevention and more. Hopefully we’ll recognize the value of the ground beneath our feet before it’s too late. View Ensia homepage

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