APPEARING ON Desert Island Disks, Helen Browning, the head of the Soil Association, explained that: "We've already degraded about 40 per cent of our soils internationally, and that's happening here [in the UK] as well. If we don't take care of our soils, we won't be able to feed people in 50 years."
Some estimates suggest that around 12 million hectares of land – about the same amount of agricultural land as England and Wales combined – have been abandoned around the world because of degradation.
Some experts think that soil degradation causes around 20 million tonnes of grain to be lost every year, although evidence is scarce. A recent study from the University of Sheffield estimated that there may only be 100 harvests left in the UK as soil nutrients are in sharp decline.
According to Browning, because of conventional farming’s reliance of fossil fuels, it means “you put about 10 or 12 calories in for every calorie of food you get out the other end. That can’t continue.”’
By contrast, organic farming prohibits artificial, chemical fertilisers and focuses on taking care of the soil to promote ‘a healthy, fertile soil by growing and rotating a mixture of crops, adding organic matter such as compost or manure and using clover to fix nitrogen from the atmosphere.’