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Quick facts

When is it?
Every December 5th
What's the official website?
fao.org/global-soil-partnership/en
Tagged as
What are the hashtags?
Who founded it?
December 5th, 2002 by International Union of Soil Sciences

One annual celebration people will be forgiven for not participating in (or even knowing about) is World Soil Day. Yes, soil—as in that sticky brown stuff that gets walked all over into prized cream carpets. Sadly, it is the ignorance about the importance of soil and the degree to which people take advantage of all that it offers that have led to a drastic reduction in its quality all over the world.

These are precisely the problems World Soil Day aims to battle, as few things could be more important to humans, the inhabitants of Planet Earth, who could never hope to survive without the land.

Soil is, without a doubt, one of the most significant parts of the ecosystem. Contributing to people’s food, water and energy and playing an important part in reducing the impact of climate change, soil is a vital part of life.

For all of these reasons, it’s high time that World Soil Day became known to more people than just scientists concerned about the welfare of our planet. So it’s time to get ready to learn about and celebrate this important day!

History of World Soil Day

In 2002, the International Union of Soil Sciences (IUSS) made a resolution proposing that the 5th of December be World Soil Day. The idea for the day was to make it possible to celebrate the importance of soil as a critical component of the natural system and as a vital contributor to human well-being.

Later, 2015 was also declared to be the International Year of Soils, in hopes of raising as much awareness as possible about the enormous role that soil plays in food security and, therefore, the very lifeline of humans. Unsurprisingly, so far it’s mostly been the global community of 60,000 or so soil scientists who have been the ones who are celebrating the day the most.

The chances of rather ordinary people exchanging ‘Happy Soil Day’ cards in the near future remain minimal. But that doesn’t mean that people can’t learn to appreciate the important role soil plays in human lives (even if it is darn hard to scrub off the carpet when those nearest and dearest feline friends leave muddy footprints on their way to the kitchen!).

Getting average people involved in becoming more aware of soil and taking part in its health is what this day is all about.

How to Celebrate World Soil Day

As it turns out, there are a number of things that average, regular people can do that can greatly help the soil they live off of to remain in good condition. It’s easy to get started with observing World Soil Day beginning with these ideas. Or for those who are super creative, they can come up with their own!

Get Educated About Soil

The best way to celebrate this day is to do exactly what scientists the world over so badly needs: to get educated. An enormous amount of damage is done to the planet every year–not due to ill will, but to ignorance. This is because many average people simply do not know enough about the earth to know when they are causing damage to it, sometimes damage that cannot be repaired.

Consider these resources for getting further educated on the issues related to World Soil Day:

  • Kiss the Ground (2020)
    This 90 minute documentary film featuring Woody Harrelson, Patricia Arquette and Tom Brady tells the important story of the soil being a viable solution to the world’s climate problems. 
  • Symphony of the Soil (2012)
    Filmed on four different continents, this documentary features farmers, scientists, and ranchers who draw from ancient knowledge to pay respect to the importance of the soil. 
  • The Biggest Little Farm (2018)
    Telling the story of one family’s attempt at farming, this documentary shows the way the little farm with depleted soil turned into a productive organic farm using regenerative agricultural practices. 
  • Laguna Blanca (2012)
    Revealing how a farm in Argentina went from a single-crop, low-producing industrial farm to a multi-faceted area capable of production as well as lush greenery that houses many different wildlife. 

Participate in a Soil-Friendly Activities

One of the first fun ideas average people can participate in is to plant a rain garden. For those who may not know what a rain garden is, it’s a shallow depression in the yard or garden that rainwater can easily flow into. This helps reduce soil erosion and promotes healthier soil.

Another important soil-friendly activity is composting. In order to stay rich in nutrients, soil needs access to fresh minerals which can come from dried leaves, dead plant parts, grass clippings and more. Keeping a compost heap in the backyard, filling it and turning it regularly not only improves the growing soil, but also reduces the amount of waste put into a landfill.

Read Kids Books about Soil

Got little family members, friends or school children who want to be educated on how important soil is to the lives of humans? Then try reading some different books with them about it! Here are a few to get started with:

  • The Magical World of Soil Biodiversity, by a variety of authors (2021).
  • You Wouldn’t Want to Live Without Dirt, by Ian Graham (2016).
  • The Good Garden: How One Family Went from Hunger to Having Enough, by Katie Smith Milway (2010).
  • What’s Sprouting in my Trash? A Book About Composing, by Esther Porter (2013).

Landscape and Plan for Less Erosion

It is a good idea to reduce to a minimum the amount of flat or paved surfaces on a property, such as driveways and patios. This is because the water flowing over these types of surfaces has a tendency to gain momentum which causes more erosion than it normally would once it reaches the soil.

For those who absolutely must have that patio, they should consider having it built with paving stones so rainwater can flow directly downward into the soil instead. It’s a much healthier (and prettier!) way to get that walking path in the garden.

Place a Rain Barrel

Another simple way to go about conserving soil (and in this case, water as well) is to have a rain barrel placed somewhere strategic where it can easily collect rainwater that is flowing off of the roof, which can then be used to water the grass and the plants.

Whatever you decide to do, remember that even the smallest gestures can make a big difference to Mother Nature!

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