Saturday, February 6, 2010

Yet another thing to worry about

Modern agriculture is depleting topsoil way too fast:

Fertile soil is being lost faster than it can be replenished and will eventually lead to the “topsoil bank” becoming empty, an Australian conference heard.

Chronic soil mismanagement and over farming causing erosion, climate change and increasing populations were to blame for the dramatic global decline in suitable farming soil, scientists said.

An estimated 75 billion tonnes of soil is lost annually with more than 80 per cent of the world's farming land "moderately or severely eroded", the Carbon Farming conference heard.

A University of Sydney study, presented to the conference, found soil is being lost in China 57 times faster than it can be replaced through natural processes.

In Europe that figure is 17 times, in America 10 times while five times as much soil is being lost in Australia.

Soil is also a valuable store of carbon and can release the greenhouse gas if it is ploughed or dug up.

The conference heard world soil, including European and British soils, could vanish within about 60 years if drastic action was not taken.

This will lead to a global food crisis, chronic food shortages and higher prices, the conference heard.

Despite better than average farming practices, European soil might last for 100 years if no further damage occurs worldwide, scientists said.

In reality, however, increased land pressures aimed at compensating global production losses would likely mean it will run out faster, they added.
From the Telegraph. While stuff like this would allow food production to continue in industrialized countries, a huge chunk of the world's population lives in places that may not have the necessary infrastructure... which means mass starvation. Of course, we may see mass starvation well before then, depending on how much of an impact climate change has on agriculture.

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