International Year of Soil Conference

06 Jul 2015 - 06 Jul 2015

The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation declared 2015 the International Year of Soils.  To mark this event, the National Organic Training Skillnet in conjunction with the Galway Garden Festival, Mayo Organic Group and Klaus Laitenberger have organised a soils conference on Monday 6th July to discuss issues around soil protection and enhancement.

   The main problem humanity is currently facing is not global warming, extinction of species or any other environmental crisis – the main problem we will have to face is the degradation of our soils. The world population continues to increase while we destroy more and more topsoil. If this is allowed to continue there won’t be enough fertile soil left to feed a growing world population.

   Some disturbing facts are:

  • 24 billion tonnes of fertile or 12 million hectares topsoil are lost every year.  
  • 25% of the earth’s surface has already become degraded.  This could feed 1.5 billion people.
  • The UN FAO calculated that we have about 60 years of harvests left – and then?

   The organic movement is increasing throughout the world.  One of the key concepts of organic farming is the care for the land and recognising that our soils are the givers of life.  They need to be kept healthy and alive.  Only a fertile soil can produce healthy crops and only with healthy crops can we have healthy animals and people.  The mantra of organic farming is‘to feed the soil which in turn will feed the plant’.  The reverse is true for conventional farming where the soil is considered just a medium on which plants grow and anchor themselves.  The soil is considered as an inert sponge on which plants are force fed like being on a drip.

   Over the last few decades our soils have suffered immensely and are close to the brink of collapsing.  As a matter of urgency we need to learn how to care for our soils. Alex Lavarde appropriately called for the need to learn how to “bring soil back to life”.

   Soils Matter Conference will take place in Claregalway Castle, Co. Galway on Monday 6th July following the Galway Garden Festival on the 4th and 5th of July.  During the Galway Garden Festival there will be talks and demonstrations for children and adults about the importance on how to keep our soils healthy. The Galway Garden festival is a great family event for all those with an interest in the outdoors.

   The conference space is limited therefore early booking is recommended. Places are €40.00 with limited free places. 
There are excellent speakers and poster sessions organised throughout the day.

  • Dr. Elizabeth Stockdale (Soil Scientist at Newcastle University)
  • Ian Tolhurst (Organic Grower and Author from the UK)
  • Jim Cronin (Organic Grower)
  • Pat Lalor (Organic Farmer)Frank Macken (Organic Unit – DAFM)
  • Dara Molloy (Celtic Priest)
  • Clive Bright (Organic Farmer)
Location: Claregalway Castle, Claregalway