Ode to Soil

The soil is the great connector of lives, the source and destination of all. It is the healer and restorer and resurrector, by which disease passes into health, age into youth, death into life. Without proper care for it we have no community, because without proper care for it we can have no life.

I cannot lay claim to the beauty of Wendell Berry’s prose. But I can profess a similar concern for the important medium under our feet, our buildings and our crops. As it turns out, the world cares too. The United Nations recently formed the Global Soil Partnership (GSP). Broadly, its aim is to facilitate “healthy and productive soils for a food secure world.” For a basic overview of GSP, click here. The partnership was launched on September 7, 2011 and is, in part, an attempt to carry out the World Soil Charter, a UN document created in 1982.

Soon after the GSP formed, the Global Soil Biodiversity Initiative (GSBI) materialized to support and inform the UN’s new partnership. The formation of GSBI was announced mid-September at a conference in Wageningen, Soil Science in a Changing World. GSBI was initiated by five individuals: Diana Wall, Colorado State University (USA), Wim van der Putten, Netherlands Institute of Ecology/Wageningen Centre for Soil Ecology, Richard Bardgett, Lancaster University (UK), Johan Six, University of California – Davis (USA) and Luca Montanarella, European Commission. The European Soil Portal has a great breakdown of the purposes of both the Global Soil Partnership and the Global Soil Biodiversity Initiative.

As I excitedly devoured all of the (limited) information on these new groups, I felt the anticipation of a five-year-old who can’t wait for Christmas welling inside of me. Here it is! The portrayal of soil as a major player in not only ecological diversity issues but social justice (gasp! sigh…) too. I am more than intrigued, I want to be a part of this. I wonder if they have room for someone who spends most of her time running between a biogeochemistry lab and multimedia computer lab? If so, sign me up in December 2012. (Please excuse the shameless job plea…I’m a graduate student after all.)

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2 thoughts on “Ode to Soil

  1. Emily, as a grazier and perpetual student of soil, my daily dealings with the living, breathing, nurturing matrix leaves me similarly dazzled. Your awe for the stuff plus your education are a great foundation.

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