People have heard of dinosaurs and dodos going extinct. They are talking about how pandas and polar bears may go extinct. But right now, I'm using a term called “Soil Extinction”. Soil extinction is a new term, but soil extinction itself is not new. For the last 100-150 years, we have been unfolding this process, and now it has reached a cusp.
The United Nations agencies, with enough scientific data, are saying that the planet has agricultural soil for another eighty to hundred crops. Which means we would run out of soil in forty-five to sixty years.
People are not able to see that this is happening to the soil because by throwing fertilizer salts, we are still getting crops. But there are no nutrients in most of the food that we are eating. Just look at the number of pharmacies selling vitamins and micronutrient supplements in affluent societies! Those who can afford are consuming this. But for a lot of people in the world, even though they are consuming a certain quantum of food, they are not getting the necessary nourishment simply because the soil is not rich, soil is not living.
In a tropical forest, the organic content in the soil, from plant litter and animal waste, would be somewhere around seventy percent or more. In agricultural soils, the minimum organic content should be three to six percent. Right now, in nearly forty percent of the world's agricultural lands, the organic content is below 0.5%.
Why Fix Soil First?
When I was at one of the UN agencies, they asked me, "Sadhguru what are the three most important things that we need to attend to?" I said, "Soil, soil and soil!" because it is connected to everything.
Thirty to thirty-two percent of global warming so far has happened because of agricultural fields which are not covered during summers. The amount of humidity that is taken out of the soil because of plowing, the industrial scale of farming, and the amount of nitrogen and phosphorus substances we are adding to the land are causing further damage.
The soil in the world is capable of holding eight times more water than all the rivers put together! If there is rich organic content in the soil, it will hold the water. Right now, the soil holds twice as much as what the rivers of the planet hold. If it becomes eight times instead of two, believe me, you can grow what you want anywhere, without any irrigation. That is how land used to be. That is how living soil should be.
A time has come where we need to address soil and take corrective measures now. There are many ways to attend to it. But whatever you do, there are only two ways you can put organic content back into the soil – green litter from vegetation, and animal waste. These two things must rise.
If we start now, in fifteen to twenty-five years, there will be a significant turnaround. But let's say we wait for another twenty-five to fifty years, and then try to turn it around, they say it may take up to 200 years. And that period is going to be disastrous for human beings as a species.
We need to make this the standard in the world – in any agricultural land, a minimum three percent organic content has to be there. In cities, you cannot build on every inch of land you have. You have to leave some space between yourself and your neighbor. Similarly, in agricultural lands – if you have ten acres, at least ten percent of it should generate organic material which you can use in the rest of the land. This needs to happen at least as a recommendation to start with.
The solutions are not complicated or impossible, they are very much doable. But the first step is awareness – it has to come into the minds and hearts of people. In the case of soil, nearly eighty percent of the population is in denial. It is time to ignite that awareness in them. After awareness, the next step is policy. Then action will naturally roll forth in many different ways.
About the Author
Sadhguru is a Yogi, mystic, visionary and a two-time New York Times bestselling author. He has launched several initiatives over the years, which are powerful examples of bringing together all segments of society to create lasting, sustainable solutions for ecological and social issues. These initiatives have garnered the support of millions of people, as well as governments, global bodies, grassroots organizations and eminent public figures.
Since 21 March, Sadhguru has been on a 100-day lone motorcycle journey across 28 countries, to raise awareness of soil degradation and to inspire concrete policy changes for soil health. The Conscious Planet - Save Soil movement, till date, has touched 2.5 billion people, with 74 countries agreeing to act to save their nations’ soils. Conscious Planet – Save Soil is a unique global movement, uniting world leaders, visionaries, influencers and 3.5 billion citizens behind a common purpose – to Save Soil.