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Geneseo Republic - Geneseo, IL
The University of Illinois Tri-County Extension office
Blog: Today is World Soil Day
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By Farm and Extension News
The University of Illinois Tri-County Extension office covering Livingston, Woodford and McLean counties.
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By Paige Buck
Dec. 5, 2013 2 p.m.

It's responsible for nearly all life on the planet, but rarely gets the respect it deserves. On December 5, this living and life-giving resource is finally getting its day—across the state and across the globe.

The United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organization will celebrate World Soil Day in Rome, Italy, under the framework of the Global Soil Partnership. The goal of the celebration is to raise awareness of the importance of healthy soils for food security, ecosystem functions and resilient farms.

The global focus on soil is being amplified across Illinois through a new awareness and education campaign titled "Unlock the Secrets in the Soil." The campaign is designed to help more farmers and ranchers discover the basics and benefits of soil health—and to encourage the adoption of soil health-improving practices like cover cropping, no-till and diverse crop rotations.

"We work every day in every county to conserve and protect this vital resource," said NRCS State Conservationist Ivan Dozier, "so to us, every day is 'soil day.'"

Dozier said improving the nation's soil health has broad implications related to the vitality of our nation's farms, the health of our planet and our ability to feed more than 9 billion people who will be living on Earth by the year 2050.

"Keeping soil healthy improves water and air quality, makes farms more sustainable and resilient, provides for wildlife habitat and reduces flooding," he said. "Increasingly, more and more producers in Illinois and throughout the nation are harvesting a wide range of production, environmental, and business benefits—on and off the farm—by improving soil health."

Dozier said that while improving soil health has enormous benefits, it also has its challenges. "We know that every farm is different and has its own set of unique resource issues," he said. "Fortunately, Illinois' farmers are innovative, courageous and tenacious, and NRCS is committed to assist these soil health pioneers—to help make their farms more productive, resilient and profitable along the way."

Dozier said that World Soil Day serves as a reminder to all of us that the promise of our future resides in the soil. "As we face mounting global production, climate and sustainability challenges, there is no better time to work hand-in-hand with our nation's farmers and ranchers to improve the health of our soil," he said.

Those interested in learning more about the basics, benefits and promise of improving soil health, Dozier said, can visit www.nrcs.usda.gov to "Unlock the Secrets in the Soil."

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