State of Knowledge of Soil Biodiversity

State of Knowledge of Soil Biodiversity

On December 4, 2020, the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization released the first global report on soil biodiversity: State of Knowledge of Soil Biodiversity. This report brings together the most current knowledge of soil life and how it supports nature and humanity. More than 300 scientists contributed to the report, which provides an overview of soil biodiversity, its contribution to supporting ecosystems and communities, global and regional trends, and ways to protect soil biodiversity and leverage it for a sustainable future. The key messages from the report are:

  • Soil organisms help produce food, purify soil and water, and preserve human health and well-being
  • Soil biodiversity can be leveraged to improve agricultural production and reclaim degraded soils
  • New scientific analysis have expanded research to include whole communities and are leading to new approaches to address food security and environmental protection
  • Soil biodiversity is threatened by soil degradation. Reducing and reversing soil degradation is important to protect belowground (and aboveground) biodiversity.

This report is intended to bring global attention to soil biodiversity and it’s potential for building a more sustainable future. Protecting and encouraging soil biodiversity will look at little different depending the environment and land-use in an area. Here in Illinois, feeding soil critters by leaving stubble on fields after harvest can build biomass and recycle nutrients. Reducing tillage helps beneficial fungi and larger-bodied organisms (e.g. worms) grow. Illinois has some of the most fertile soil in the world, thanks to our climate and the critters that live in the soil. Respecting soil biodiversity can help Illinois feed future generations.

You can learn more about the UN report here:

You can learn more about soil biodiversity from the Global Soil Biodiversity Atlas.

– Elizabeth Bach, Soil Scientist at Nachusa Grasslands

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ISAP Coordinator