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More Than Just Dirt

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President's Message
bill buckner

I've been thinking a lot about dirt lately.

I know that most people give dirt or the more accurate term, soil about as much thought as they do mattress tags, but the subject is embedded in my brain.

Without soil, there are no plants and no livestock that consume plants. There are no people who consume plants and livestock. There is no society. Soil is the foundation. It is life, and we're running out of it.

Among the many soil facts peppered throughout this issue of Legacy, there are three that stand out:

  • Half the topsoil on the planet has been lost in the last 150 years.
  • Globally, about 40 percent of the soil used for agriculture is classified as degraded or seriously degraded.
  • At current degradation rates, some experts believe the world has about 60 years of topsoil left.

If these estimations hold even a shred of accuracy (and they do), then soil is today's most pressing issue. This is not tomorrow's problem. We must act now to conserve, improve and safeguard the soil just as we would any exhaustible resource.

Both public and private soil health initiatives are springing up across the country in response to this crisis. There are many good efforts, but often they are focused on one topic or region. We need something that takes a broader approach. We need something that completely changes the world's view of soil. We need a renaissance.

So we've started one.

This past fall, Noble Research Institute and the Farm Foundation, NFP, initiated the Soil Renaissance: Knowledge to sustain Earth's most valuable asset.

The Soil Renaissance's aggressive three-year goal is to make soil health a priority of farmers, researchers, foundations, nonprofits and government agencies. Within the pages of this magazine, we detail how this movement has already brought together agricultural leaders from conventional and organic farmers, researchers, policymakers, university professors, and industry professionals to form a whole-system, industry-wide effort aimed at changing our perception of soil forever.

In the following pages, you're going to read about how the Soil Renaissance came into existence, the progress it has already made and where it's headed. It's time to get our hands dirty, folks, and protect our soil. Like I said, I've been thinking about dirt a lot lately. And I think you should, too.

Bill Buckner, President and Chief Executive Officer