Where does water leak away

All water surfaces and courses only contain 10 % of usable water while 90 % stays in soil – but now soil is losing its ability to retain water.

From the 1950s onwards, the whole world has striven to increase the efficiency of agricultural production and to decrease its work difficulty. Formidable technological progress allows us to measure the amount of nutrients for individual crops to maximize yield. Advanced herbicides, fungicides, pesticides and other chemical agents target and eradicate pests and weeds in order that good conditions are assured for crops’ growth.

We have, however, gradually come to understand that food without chemicals is healthier. We have developed ecological agriculture where we expect lower yields but where agricultural production is kinder to the health of both nature and people. Nevertheless, food labelled “organic” is grown only on a small proportion of arable soil.

The major part of soil is still farmed conventionally since it is also a substrate for the growing of crops which are not primarily intended as food but are used, for instance, in biogas plants, in biofuel and bioplastics production as well as in starch and construction industries. The goal being yield and profit, simple chemical solutions are preferred and soil organisms is not taken into account. As a consequence, soil is missing its life which takes care of water retention in the landscape. Evaporation diminishes, temperature rises and light precipitation necessary for the environment transforms into windstorms with torrential rainfall and hailstones. Downpours effect water erosion and floods, but the water never gets into soil and thus the landscape as well as water in wells gradually dries out while sea levels are rising.

We can change this – as long as we radically change our way of treating soil. Each of us can contribute.