Our soils

Healthy soils are critical for Ingleby – and for global food production. 95% of all food comes from soils. This is why 2016 is the Ingleby “Year of Soils”. To support this, we have created the newsletter “Focus on Soil”. Here, our environmental adviser Ken G. Cassman writes a series of articles on how to manage soils to improve production and profitability, while conserving natural resources and protecting water quality.

 

In Ingleby, we want to build healthy soils with high organic matter content, which can store large amounts of water. This is crucial for our production and also improves our farms’ resilience to floods and droughts. The better and deeper the topsoil, the larger the rooting depth is available for our crop to roam for water and nutrients, and the stronger the crop.

 

We have an ambitious goal of increasing the topsoil layer by 2 mm per year. So how do we reach this goal? We cannot easily change soil texture and mineralogy, which is an inherent property of soil that changes very slowly over time. But we can increase topsoil layers by building up soil organic matter, which in turn will support our crop production.

 

Soil facts

Soil is a non-renewable resource, which is not easily replaced. It takes between 500 and 1,000 years to create a single centimetre of topsoil through the interaction of bedrock, climate, topography and living organisms.

 

Soil is a key resource for farming and forestry but we don’t always pay attention to this important “silent ally.”

 

Globally, half of the planet’s topsoil has been lost in the last 150 years, and 33% of the land is moderately to highly degraded due to erosion, salinisation, compaction, acidification and chemical pollution of soils. At the same time we need to feed more and more people from the same – or smaller – area of land.

 

Healthy soils

  • Host over one quarter of our planet’s biodiversity – a single gram of healthy soil contains millions of organisms.
  • Help to combat climate change by playing a key role in the carbon cycle.
  • Provide a number of essential biological functions, such as storing and filtering water.
  • Filter, buffer, degrade and detoxify pollutants, including industrial and municipal runoff.