Soil degradation is a global problem caused by many factors including excessive tillage, inappropriate crop rotations, excessive grazing or crop residue removal, deforestation, mining, construction and urban sprawl. To meet the needs of an expanding global population, it is essential for humankind to recognize and understand that improving soil health by adopting sustainable agricultural and land management practices is the best solution for mitigating and reversing current soil degradation trends. This research editorial is intended to provide an overview for this Special Issue of Sustainability
that examines the global problem of soil degradation through reviews and recent research studies addressing soil health in Africa, Australia, China, Europe, India, North and South America, and Russia. Two common factors—soil erosion and depletion of soil organic matter (SOM)—emerge as consistent indicators of how “the thin layer covering the planet that stands between us and starvation” is being degraded. Soil degradation is not a new problem but failing to acknowledge, mitigate, and remediate the multiple factors leading to it is no longer a viable option for humankind. We optimistically conclude that the most promising strategies to mitigate soil degradation are to select appropriate land uses and improve soil management practices so that SOM is increased, soil biology is enhanced, and all forms of erosion are reduced. Collectively, these actions will enable humankind to “take care of the soil so it can take care of us”.
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