South Africa’s agricultural sector is currently working with 13% of land that is fertile for crop production. This percentage will continue to be whittled away when food demand increases as our population grows and if we do not focus our attention on conserving our soil ecosystems. Research also indicates that more than 70% of our soil has been eroded by human activity1. Our soil does not need to be degraded by being overworked by agricultural practices.
“The loss of our topsoil is one of the biggest environmental and social concerns of our time,” says Brian Küsel, from BiobiN South Africa. “When topsoil is eroded, it can take up to 100 years regenerate to a point at which it can be used for food production once again. Every year, Africa loses about 280 million tonnes of cereal crops from about 105 million hectares of croplands that is lost due to soil erosion2.
If we want to keep feeding our population, we need to keep our soil alive.
World Soil Day 2020 aims to put our attention on exactly this, keeping soil alive and protecting soil biodiversity. Healthy soil ecosystems not only provide the ever-growing human population with food, they also play a central role in supporting entire ecosystems, capturing and storing carbon dioxide and preventing floods.
It is still possible to have a large-scale supportive agricultural sector while conserving our soil ecosystems. So, what do we need to do to achieve this?
Let’s look at regenerative agriculture
“Regenerative agriculture is an approach to farming that is focused on replenishing topsoil while providing the food that we need. It is a long-term sustainable approach to agriculture,” says Küsel. “While BiobiN solves a major waste management problem of preventing waste going to landfill, we also provide a regenerative solution by turning organic waste into high-grade compost.”
The solution lies in what we don’t eat
Composting is an important practice of regenerative agriculture; our food waste is loaded with organic matter and microorganisms that assist with returning carbon to topsoil layers, retaining the moisture and creating a healthy structure. “If we relook at our food waste as a valuable resource instead of throwing it away, we can supply soil with exactly what it needs,” says Küsel. “Composting along with other regenerative practices such as organic farming, permaculture, crop diversity and rotation can help us achieve a more sustainable agricultural sector.”
To find out more about this BiobiN South Africa, visit www.biobin.co.za