Soil health should be formally recognised by government ministers as a critical asset for maintaining food and societal security, according to a new report by the Food & Global Security Network.
The report, Soil health: a national security profile, says agriculture and environment ministries around the world should work alongside defence departments to jointly oversee the production of secure food supplies, as well as the regeneration of soil function.
Ffinlo Costain, chief executive of Farmwel and founder of the Food & Global Security Network, said the right to affordable nutrition underpins peace and civil stability, but the impacts of climate change and biodiversity loss were already affecting food production.
“If we see a 2℃ rise in global temperatures, which seems increasingly likely, we could experience extreme disruption in global food supplies,” he said.
“When food is scarce, prices rise, inequality increases, and simmering resentments can turn rapidly into conflict – and even war.
“Healthy soil and a balanced ecosystem are critical for food sovereignty and a peaceful society. This is why we urge governments and food businesses to take the security risks associated with soil degradation and ecological breakdown extremely seriously.”
The soil health report was published by the Food & Global Security Network, a project of Farmwel, and supported by FAI Farms who develop practical solutions to support sustainability within the food supply chain.
It outlines the critical importance of soil health through independent writings of 22 experts, including military minds, NGO leaders, scientists and farmers.
Writers include FAI Farms chief executive Øistein Thorsen, Rear Admiral Neil Morisetti, the UK’s former Climate and Energy Security Envoy, and Patrick Holden, founder of the Sustainable food Trust.
Sue Pritchard, the chief executive of the UK Food, Farming & Countryside Commission, Martin Lines, chairman of the Nature Friendly Farming Network, and renowned Australian soil microbiologist Walter Jehne have also contributed to the document.
In addition to stressing the importance of government leadership in encouraging soil regeneration, the report also outlines the critical role food businesses and farmers can play in improving soil structure, increasing biodiversity, and helping mitigate the impacts of climate change.
“Food businesses, supported by governments, must show leadership to reverse the trend of degeneration, while bold action must come from the ground up through the adoption of regenerative farming practices,” said FAI Farms’ Øistein Thorsen.
“For soil health to realise its full potential, regenerative farming must become the new conventional agriculture.
“Agroecology is a low risk and low-cost solution that can mitigate the security threats connected with poor soil health,” he added. “With COP26 in sight, agroecology and regenerative farming can produce great food locally and at scale, while greatly accelerating carbon drawdown, regenerating biodiversity, and managing precipitation to provide greater drought resilience and better flood protection.”