Friday, September 07, 2007

Discussion Draft of National Soil Resolution

*Please note, this text has not yet been adopted and introduced by the Senate.
It is a draft for discussion.
110th CONGRESS
1st SESSION
S. RES. #
U.S. Soil Policy:
Sustaining the National Soil Resource
IN THE SENATE OF THE UNITED STATES

________________________ submitted the following resolution; which was considered and agreed to:

Soil is a natural resource essential for life on earth. Soil links plants, animals, water, and air, affecting the weather, natural resources, and human health. The soil provides minerals for production; toxicity remediation potential; water purification; a growing medium for food, fiber, feed and fuel production; and ecosystems that support fish and wildlife. Soil is now used as the basis of raw inputs for industrial processes, and as a source of antibiotics.

Contemporary pressures on the soil resource elicit the need to increase the fundamental knowledge of soils and develop practical management technologies for sustainable use of this resource. Only those educated in soil science can provide such expertise. Well-trained soil professionals have experience in toxicology; nutrient management; chemical, biological and physical sciences; and natural resource and agricultural land management. Soil professionals are equipped with the information and experience needed to address the issues of today and those of tomorrow. It is now the time to invest in our natural capital, soil.

Whereas:

(1) Soil, plant, animal and human health are intricately linked. Soil degradation or improvement impacts climate, water and air quality, human health, biodiversity, food safety, and agricultural production;

(2) Soil is an essential, non-renewable resource, in that the degradation rates can be rapid and the formation and regeneration processes very slow;

(3) Soil is a dynamic system which performs many functions and services vital to human activities and ecosystems;

(4) Soil functions include biomass production; storage, filtration, and transformation of nutrients; weathering/formation of minerals (raw material); breeding ground for organisms used in medicine and bioremediation techniques; storage of carbon; and storage of the geologic and archeological heritage of the United States (U.S.);

(5) The soils in the U.S. are vulnerable to several soil degradation processes including erosion, nutrient depletion, organic matter decline, contamination, salinization, compaction, loss of soil biodiversity, urban sealing, landslides and flooding;

(6) Despite soil’s importance to human health, the environment, nutrition, and food, feed, fiber and fuel production, there is little public awareness of the importance of soil protection;

(7) Protection of U.S. soil, based on the principles of preservation of soil functions, prevention of soil degradation, mitigation of detrimental use, restoration of degraded soils and integration of these preservation principles into other policies is essential to the long-term prosperity of the United States;

(8) Spatial variability is a natural characteristic of soil; enormous differences exist in soil structural, chemical, and biological properties over the U.S. landscape;

(9) Soil diversity can be taken into account when areas of high risk are selected and appropriate measures implemented to ensure protection of the soil;

(10) Soils vary in susceptibility to degradation processes, and the risk of soil degradation can be identified;

(11) U.S. legislation in the areas of organic, industrial, chemical, biological, and medical waste pollution prevention and control should include provisions on soil protection;

(12) U.S. legislation on climate change, water quality, agricultural and rural development needs to provide a coherent and effective legislative framework for common principles and objectives that are aimed at protection and sustainable use of soil in the U.S.;

(13) Industrialization coupled with poor or inappropriate soil management practices continues to leave contaminated sites in the U.S. A common strategy to manage historic contamination of soil can prevent and control the harmful effects that soil contamination will have on human health and the environment;

(14) Soil can be used in a sustainable manner, which preserves its capacity to deliver ecological, economic, and social services, while maintaining its functions so that future generations can meet their needs.

Now therefore, be it resolved, that the U.S. Senate—

(1) recognizes it as necessary to introduce measures to improve knowledge, exchange information, and develop and implement best practices for soil management, carbon sequestration, and long-term use of the nation’s soil resource;

(2) recognizes the important role of soil and the role of the Soil Science Society of American and Certified Professional Soil Scientists in managing the national soil resource;

(3) commends the members of the Soil Science Society of America for educating historic and emerging soil and environmental professionals;

(4) commends the Soil Science Society of America for continuing the legacy of education, outreach and awareness necessary for generating more public interest in and appreciation for soils for the future;

(5) acknowledges the promise of the Soil Science Society of America to continue to enrich the lives of all Americans, by improving stewardship of the soil, combating soil degradation and ensuring the future protection and sustainable use of our air, land and water resources.

1 comment:

Ray W said...

Congratulations on putting for a well-thought-out and much needed effort to bring soil quality (I understand why term was avoided) issues to the public and political conscientiousness!

Particularly strong efforts must be made to tie soil quality considerations to any programs aimed at producing biofuels, lest we create an unsustainable situation that 'drives our soils into the ground' in an attempt to drive our SUVs on the back of soil productivity.

Regarding another aspect,I am not sure why nutrient depletion was not listed as one of the modes of soil degradation (even though its opposite, over-enrichment, also commonly occurs). While nutrient depletion is much less a problem in most areas of the USA than it is in, say, sub-Saharan Africa, it certainly degrades soils...and may be important for elements such as calcium in forest soils and micro nutrients in some arable soils, perhaps more so than for the traditionally considered N, P and K.

In any case, count me in for whatever is needed in the struggle to get this resolution passed and heeded.

yours in soils,