Celebrating Soil Conservation Day

The Role of Sustainable Coffee Farming
December 5, 2023 by
Gladys Kyule

Did you know animal, plant, and human health significantly rely on soil fertility? 

We've united with the global community in the spirit of sustainability to honor the legacy and contributions of Hugh Hammond Bennet, regarded as the father of soil conservation. His remarkable contribution towards soil protection and erosion prevention continues to dominate the archives of sustainability research, warranting a global recognition on the 5th of every December as the "Soil Conservation National Day." As people prepare to celebrate this remarkable day in 2023, we reflect on Bennet's insights, emphasizing the crucial link between human existence and soil formation. "Any form of soil degradation poses risks not only to ecosystems but also to global economies."

Sustainable Coffee Farming

How green is coffee cultivation? With the buzz around climate change gaining traction, many sectors in the world's economies are going green. 

In coffee cultivation, this translates to adopting eco-friendly practices in the entire supply chain to ensure farming activities are in harmony with the environmental and socio-economic aspects of the industry. The coffee production sector is now more than ever becoming more proactive in managing its water and carbon footprint to promote the industry's sustainability.

Dr. Plassmann, a researcher and scientist at Yara, observes that a healthy environment is the backbone of healthy economies in the long haul. Therefore, coffee farmers must holistically address sustainability's socio-economic and environmental aspects to achieve true sustainability and improve the sector's resilience into the unforeseeable future.

There's a noticeable shift towards conservation production systems such as Good Agricultural Practices (GAPs), regenerative agriculture, and other soil conservation techniques in the agricultural landscape tuned to respect the limits in using natural resources such as water and soil to improve the sector's sustainability in the foreseeable future. 

As we celebrate this year's World Soil Day, we should embrace soil conservation as a critical step towards achieving the true sustainability of our beloved coffee brew.

Why World Soil Day Matters

Did you know 95% of our food comes from the dirt or soil at our disposal? 

Despite being such a valuable resource, 33% of soils on Earth are unfit for plant and animal life. Issues of soil salinization and general degradation are significant challenges facing our grounds today. 

The soil is where food begins. Essentially, the soil at our disposal is responsible for forming, storing, and recycling valuable natural nutrients that plants, animals, and other living organisms need to thrive. Ideally, the art of growing coffee sustainably is not entirely about adopting eco-friendly practices above the ground but also paying attention to the environmental implications of what lies beneath. 

A healthy soil profile is the foundation of a thriving ecosystem. Water retention, adding essential nutrients, and supporting biodiversity are all qualities of healthy soils. 

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Meet the farmers

The coffee in your local shop reflects the soil quality farmers use for production. Preserving healthy soils can tremendously impact the quality and safety of yield. The famous campaign of World Soil Day gives an overall assessment of how soil health is crucial to sustaining life. 

Through this campaign, environmentalists call for supporting and developing healthy ecosystems that benefit human well-being. In doing so, stakeholders need to address growing challenges affecting good soil management, calling for societies to improve awareness of soil conservation and the need to preserve and improve soil health. 

Soil Salinization Is a Huge Issue

Soil salinization continues to be a leading challenge in coffee production. An excessive accumulation of soluble compounds such as calcium, sulfates, potassium, chlorides, bicarbonates, sodium, and magnesium, among other salts, in the soil water makes the soil unfit for proper plant growth and development.

Soils can be saline from natural causes, but improper anthropogenic processes, especially in agriculture, are the leading causes of soil salinization. 

In coffee farming, soil salinization may result from unfit irrigation waters, which usually affects the leaf area and sometimes causes the death of plants. Therefore, raising soil awareness among coffee farmers is of glaring importance.

The World's Soil Day is a special reminder of the fine line between human and planet health. 

Our soils are the foundation of the food we eat. It is also home to an incomprehensible amount of living organisms, water, and air, the cornerstone of biodiversity responsible for plant and animal health. 

Healthy soils mean healthy and safe food for all humanity. As we interact with one of the world's most critical natural resources, we are responsible for ensuring sustainability in all practices.

Solai coffee is grown sustainably! 

Help us raise awareness of Soil Conservation and sustainable farming practices! 

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Gladys Kyule December 5, 2023
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