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K-State Today

December 5, 2017



World Soil Day 2017: K-State distinguished professor Gary Pierzynski to present at United Nations celebration

By Kathy Gehl

Official World Soil Day 2017 logo

Have you ever really thought about what lies beneath your feet? There are more living organisms in a mere tablespoon of soil than there are people on earth. Ninety-five percent of food is produced on our soils. Soil is a nonrenewable natural resource in terms of the human lifespan as it takes as much as 1,000 years to form one inch of soil.

"Soil should be treated like royalty by all of us — protected and nourished," said Gary Pierzynski, university distinguished professor and head of K-State's agronomy department. "Soil is a finite natural resource, and cannot be replaced in our lifetime once it is lost to dust storms, water runoff, or pollution."

"Caring for the planet starts from the ground" is the central theme for World Soil Day 2017, which will be Tuesday, Dec. 5, at the U.N. Headquarters in New York City. Pierzynski will represent the Food and Agriculture Organization Intergovernmental Technical Panel on Soils at the U.N. celebration and announce the release of a report titled "Global Assessment of the Impact of Plant Protection Products on Soil Functions and Soil Ecosystems."

World Soil Day is hosted annually on Dec. 5 to bring attention to the importance of healthy soil and advocating for the sustainable management of soil resources. Healthy soils are key to providing clean water, reducing forced migration, improving nutrition, preserving biodiversity, mitigating and adapting to climate change and achieving food security.

The event is co-hosted by the Permanent Missions of Columbia, Lesotho, the Netherlands and Thailand to the U.N., the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, and the secretariat of the U.N. Convention to Combat Desertification.

World Soil Day has taken place every year since 2002, when the International Union of Soil Sciences made a resolution proposing its creation. In December 2013 the United Nations General Assembly designated Dec. 5, 2014, as the first official World Soil Day.

In addition to the Intergovernmental Technical Panel on Soils report, the first-ever Global Soil Organic Carbon map will be launched at the event. Soil organic carbon is the main component of soil organic matter and represents a crucial link to overall soil health. Poor land management and removal of natural vegetation has caused a dramatic decrease in global amounts of soil organic carbon.

Following the official release of these publications on Dec. 5, they will be available for free at fao.org/world-soil-day.