Because SOIL MATTERS...
...For our environment
...For our society
...For our economy
Soil - the black gold. It is the foundation on which our ecosystems stand, and all terrestrial life is dependent on its presence. The importance of soil fertility is slowly gaining traction in environmental conversations. Fertile soil is the key to thriving natural environments, to our food supply and our self-regenerating water supply as well as being one of our planet’s largest carbon sinks. This makes our soil the strongest tool against the climate crisis we face today.
The fertility of soil is based on healthy soil organic matter, SOM. Simply explained, soil without SOM is merely eroded stone. SOM is created by living organisms in the soil that decompose old plant and organic matter. It consists of approximately 50% organic carbon, which is fixed in the ground through photosynthesis of healthy vegetation. This makes our planet’s soil one of the largest natural carbon sinks, storing an estimated 10 billion tons of carbon. However, with global temperatures rising year for year fertile soil is degrading further and faster. Gradually lands are desertifying and releasing their formerly held carbon into our atmosphere in the form of CO2. The United Nations Environment Program’s (UNEP) calculated the extent of the problem, as arable land being lost at a rate of 23 hectares per minute.
The loss of fertile soil is further exacerbated by unsustainable and intensive agricultural practices such as the intensive use of inorganic fertilisers, pesticides, tillage, controlled burning, mono-cropping and fresh water irrigation systems. An important and highly destructive practice which is mostly overlooked or misunderstood is the mismanagement of livestock. This issue is of particular interest and focus to LIOS. We support a cost efficient and successfully proven method of land regeneration in the harshest of areas which reintroduces today’s demonised climate villain - livestock - as the hero in land recovery and carbon sequestration. We must realise, it is not the livestock that has been the issue, but much rather the mismanagement of it. They are an essential part of the solution to the greatest challenge we face as a global community today - Climate Change.
Soil organic matter acts as our planet's natural water filtration system. SOM is able to harvest and retain water even throughout the dry seasons as it holds up to 10 times its own weight in water. The water cycle we are taught in school assumes a functioning ground. However, without SOM this natural water cycle breaks and our groundwater reserves slowly become a non-renewable resource. Global warming is accelerating the loss of soil organic matter in our lands. When soil dries out and is unable to absorb and retain the water it does receive, the water will simply runoff or evaporate causing an array of issues. This not only affects vegetation and underground water systems but also has an effect on rain patterns and in its extreme form triggers droughts as well as floods. All these are symptoms of desertification and ultimately climate change that become ever more severe with each consecutive and longer lasting period of warming.
SOM defines the ground’s ability to efficiently harvest and hold the water it receives, rather than being dependent on the amount of water.
Food and water security is the foundation for a functioning society. Finding the loss of arable land calculated by the UNEP at 23 hectares per minute, and most land mass today more arid than green, suggests the basic needs to create a stable society are simply not being met. Clean, fresh water is becoming scarcer, while the ability to grow wholesome, healthy food is becoming ever more challenging. The global rise of temperatures and heat periods is increasing desertification and decreasing land productivity, which can inevitably destabilise communities. Regenerative agriculture needs to take center stage to create and sustain societies globally.
We at LIOS have aligned war zones and vegetation maps, and have found a high conflict correlation towards vegetation, more so than oil, gas or minerals. This has brought us to understand that people living by the desert, who are battling with receding vegetation and extreme land erosion due to predominant heat periods, are forced to fight over basic needs of water and food. Although we do recognize that religious extremism is a component of these conflicts, the question still remains, what is the most important resource in their surroundings? What leads people to extremism and why? Why are most current conflicts continuously happening in places which are battling desertification? Facing famine and drought and little hope for help, a society can easily break down. Desperation can lead people to split into groups for the sake of survival, defining themselves by whatever may give them hope for change.
When we learn to understand the harsh natural conditions that inhabitants of countries battling with desertification are facing, we can adapt our solutions to address the true causes, rather than the symptoms of issues such as famine, drought, conflict and religious extremism. We know that restoring soil fertility with regenerative agricultural practices is our greatest promise to create habitable land and ensure global access to fresh water and food security. Could this promise possibly decrease tension, redirect migration and revive settlements that had been lost? We think it can be a huge aid to sustainable peace building and keeping efforts. With fertile soil not being mentioned in peace agreements and land distribution, we would like to make sure that the creation of fertile soil and ecosystem restoration becomes a key topic in peacekeeping discussions and agreements.
Arid and semi-arid environments are a major focal point of our organization, as they are already struggling immensely with the effects of climate change. By working on land restoration together with local NGOs and governments, we can educate and promote community driven development. These practices can not only aid the environment, but restore food and water security, as well as offer new business and job opportunities, promoting economic growth and independence of a region. We can empower the most underprivileged communities by teaching them how to restore the environment that once sustained them, and enable them to play a key role in reversing climate change.
Farming WITH nature, not against it. It is a symbiosis between our soil, plants, water, sun, animals and our atmosphere that keeps ecosystems thriving, particularly in arid environments. Sustaining that symbiosis must become our main focus in farming practices.
Farmers around the world have huge potential to become the heroes in our global climate crisis. Not only are they important for our food production, but correct farming practices can even allow their land to harvest and store carbon. However, the business of farming is already barely surviving, often even when aided by heavy subsidies. For farmers to simply change course and try a new farming method can be risky and frightening, often even culturally frowned upon by their peers in this proud and traditional field of work. We want to help by educating the consumer on the importance of soil and farming practices, which would offer a business minded push for a farmer to make a change. We also want to aid in educating politicians and policy makers on the importance of regenerative farming practices, shifting agricultural policy towards favoring and incentivising farmers to implement regenerative agricultural practices. Ultimately the business model of farming would shift to raise land and financial productivity, while being recognised as the most important player in avoiding a global climate collapse.