The Low-Down on Dirt


Monday, December 5, was World Soil Day. Proposed by the International Union of Soil Sciences back in 2002 and adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 2013, World Soil Day has been used to raise awareness of soil—something the great majority of people take for granted—as a vital resource. Outgoing UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon said in a statement, “On World Soil Day, I call for greater attention to the pressing issues affecting soils, including climate change, antimicrobial resistance, soil-borne diseases, contamination, nutrition, and human health.”

The UN dedicated 2015 as the International Year of Soils; you can read more about some of the related activities here. This year they’ve gotten more specific, dedicating World Soil Day to pulses and, in fact, declaring 2016 the International Year of Pulses. For those of us who paused for a moment at seeing the word used in that way: “Pulses are annual leguminous crops yielding between one and 12 grains or seeds of variable size, shape, and colour within a pod, used for both food and feed. The term ‘pulses’ is limited to crops harvested solely for dry grain, thereby excluding crops harvested green for food, which are classified as vegetable crops.” The UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization website also notes that in addition to nutritional benefits, pulses have nitrogen-fixing properties and can contribute to increased soil fertility.

Another organization, the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, has piggy-backed onto World Soil Day this year by creating some useful infographic pages, which it encourages people to share, most of them dealing with composting and the related benefits for soil. Several of the well-designed pages are relevant to much of what we do, and I’m including links to a few of them below; feel free to use or share.



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