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Soil: the great connector of our lives now and beyond COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic is testing the ability of societies to survive an extreme global situation. Throughout history, humanity has gone through many cataclysms and disasters, but this is the first time in the Anthropocene that we face a crisis spanning the whole planet. The global character of this crisis sheds a new light on how to ensure food security, which will increasingly depend on sufficient areas of fertile agricultural soils close to population centres. Healthy soils form our most necessary natural resource for food production, on which human existence is dependent.

In the article published in the SOIL journal, the Intergovernmental Technical Panel on Soils shares its understanding of the crucial role played by sustainable soil management in the new global reality. Appropriate soil management is imperative for solving and anticipating food security and nutrition requirements that governments and individuals will face in the post-pandemic world.

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Soil: the great connector of our lives now and beyond COVID-19

Authors: Rosa M. Poch, Lucia H. C. dos Anjos, Rafla Attia, Megan Balks, Adalberto Benavides-Mendoza, Martha M. Bolaños-Benavides, Costanza Calzolari, Lydia M. Chabala, Peter C. de Ruiter, Samuel Francke-Campaña, Fernando García Préchac, Ellen R. Graber, Siosiua Halavatau, Kutaiba M. Hassan, Edmond Hien, Ke Jin, Mohammad Khan, Maria Konyushkova, David A. Lobb, Matshwene E. Moshia, Jun Murase, Generose Nziguheba, Ashok K. Patra, Gary Pierzynski, Natalia Rodríguez Eugenio, Ronald Vargas Rojas


Humanity depends on the existence of healthy soils, both for the production of food and for ensuring a healthy, biodiverse environment, among other functions. COVID-19 is threatening food availability in many places of the world due to the disruption of food chains, lack of workforce, closed borders and national lockdowns. As a consequence, more emphasis is being given to local food production, which may lead to more intensive cultivation of vulnerable areas and to soil degradation. In order to increase the resilience of populations facing this pandemic and future global crises, transitioning to a paradigm that relies more heavily on local food production on soils that are carefully tended and protected through sustainable management, is necessary. To reach this goal, the Intergovernmental Technical Panel on Soil (ITPS) of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (ITPS) recommends five active strategies: improved access to land, sound land use planning, sustainable soil management, enhanced research, and investments in education and extension.