Iowa owes its incredibly productive soil to the prairie—the same prairie that farmers have spent decades ripping out, says The Washington Post. Midwestern growers were long instructed to destroy native grasslands in order to make room for row crops. But a new program called STRIPS (Science-based Trials of Rowcrops Integrated with Prairie Strips) hopes to convince the state’s farmers that they can decrease soil erosion and fertilizer runoff by planting native grasslands in between their regular crops.
In parts of California, the historic drought is creating a new breed of wildfire that burns so hot that the scorched soil left behind erodes instead of reseeds, says Lisa Morehouse, who reported on one farming community’s efforts to revive its land after last year’s 70,000-acre Butte Fire. The story was co-produced by FERN and KQED’s The California Report.
An analysis by the University of Sheffield in Britain calculates that "nearly 33% of the world’s adequate or high-quality food-producing land has been lost ... due to erosion or pollution in the past 40 years, with potentially disastrous consequences as global demand for food soars," said the Guardian.
In the newly published book, "Understanding Mountain Soils," the FAO calls for attention to sustainable management of the soils, which are "home to a vast array of human activities ranging from quinoa cultivation in the Andes through European ski resorts to the collection of medicinal plants in Tajikistan's 'roof of the world' Pamir range."
Soil erosion occurs 100 times faster on hillsides that are cleared of trees and converted to farmland, based on studies of 10 large river basins in the U.S. Southeast, says research led by a University of Vermont geologist.
More than 40 percent of China's arable land suffers from degradation, such as the impact of erosion, fertility losses, climate change and pollution, according to the official news agency Xinhua, said Reuters.