An initiative of the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation, World Soil Day is held annually on 5 December as a means to focus attention on the importance of healthy soil and to advocate for the sustainable management of soil resources.
This date was chosen because it corresponds with the official birthday of the late H.M. King Bhumibol Adulyadej, King of Thailand, who was one of the main proponents of the initiative.
This year’s campaign, Keep soil alive, protect soil biodiversity, aims to raise awareness of the importance of sustaining healthy ecosystems and human well-being.
By encouraging people around the world to engage in proactively improving soil health, the campaign also aims to fight soil biodiversity loss.
If we do not act soon, the fertility of soil will continue to be adversely affected at an alarming rate, threatening global food supplies and food safety.
Soil Science Australia’s Queensland Branch President Dr Maryam Esfandbod states that soil biodiversity, including bacteria, fungi, earthworms and termites, is critical to Australia’s ecosystems as it influences the cycling of ecosystem nutrients, soil structure and soil water movement.
“Soils provide a range of ecosystem services including providing clean water, sustaining terrestrial biodiversity and filtering contaminants,” she said.
“Soil supports our Australian economy approximately $63 billion per year for our food and fibre production.”
Dr Esfandbod also said, “It is so important to sustain our ecosystems and keep soils healthy as they play a critical role in supporting human wellbeing!
“One spoon of healthy soil contains billion of microbe bacteria and fungi. Soil is alive and is not dirt! Keep our soil healthy through the correct application and please do not turn it into dirt!
“I believe that I am of the last generation of true Soil Scientists, with a BSc in Soil Science, MSc in Soil Chemistry and Fertility and a PhD on remediation of contaminated land. Unfortunately, in most universities across the world, especially in Australia, Soil is just a course not a degree.”
Dr Esfandbod added that she hopes Australia can bring a focus on Soil back into the education system.
“To raise the profile of healthy soils, soil management and sustainability we need to encourage governments, universities, industries, organisations, communities and individuals around the world to proactively engage in improving soil health,” she said.
Therefore, for the first time ever Soil Science Australia-Queensland branch invited key people from government, industry, farming, academia, students and community across Australia to contribute to a promotional video for World Soil Day 2020.
“I am so grateful to those who contributed to this video, in particular Assistant Minister for Waste Reduction and Environmental Management, The Hon Trevor Evans MP,” Dr Esfandbod said.
“I would also like to say a big, big thank you to General Michael Jeffery, our former National Soil Advocate for his passions and dedication to our Australian Soils. Blessings for his health!
“I am deeply honoured to dedicate this video to General Jeffery in recognition of his great contribution.”
Dr Esfandbod said she encourages all Australians to watch the video and like and share it with their networks.
“Each of us have an important role to keep our Australian soils healthy,” she said.
I believe small actions can have a significant impact on the health of our soils for our better future, food and economy!”
On Thursday 26 November, Soil Science Australia-Queensland Branch co-hosted a World Soil Day Luncheon event with Queensland Farmers’ Federation, Applied Network for Recycled Organic and Waste Management (ANROWM) and Resource, Recovery, Recycling and Re-manufacturing (4R) Waste Hub.
The event was live-streamed across Australia and internationally.
Dr Esfandbod gave special thanks to all the keynote speakers:
• Associate Prof Luke Mosley, Federal President for Soil Science Australia
• Dr Paul Greenfield, Chair of Soil CRC
• Prof Chengrong Chen Director for 4R Waste Hub from Griffith University
Pictured: Prof Sushila Chang, Prof Neal Menzies, The Hon Penelope Wensley, Dr Maryam Esfandbod, Dr Paul Greenfield, Prof Chengrong Chen