Keep soil alive, protect soil biodiversity

Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO)
December 01, 2020

World Soil Day, 5 December 2020 (#WorldSoilDay)

This year's theme is "Keep soil alive, Protect soil biodiversity". It aims to raise awareness of the important role that soil biodiversity plays in maintaining healthy ecosystems and human well-being. Healthy soils are key to a food-secure future.

Find out more on the FAO's World Soil Day webpage. 


Here are some key messages and fun facts from the Keep soil alive, Protect soil biodiversity webpage:

Key messages

  • Soil is a living resource, home to more than one quarter (25%) of our planet’s biodiversity.
  • Up to 90% of living organisms live or spent part of their lifecycle in soils, yet we know only 1% of this hidden universe.
  • Soil organisms work 365/24/7 in a coordinated effort to sustain life on Earth.
    Soil biodiversity is an essential component of soil health. Healthy soils produces more nutritious and safer food. 95% of our food comes from soils.
  • Soils organisms help soils store carbon and reduce GHG emissions.
    Soil biodiversity contributes to the remediation of soil pollution by breaking down contaminants.
  • Soils are vast, vital pharmacies. Did you know that almost all of the antibiotics that we take to help us fight infections were made using soil micro-organisms?

Fun facts

  • In just 3 inches of soil, there are 13 quadrillion living organisms, weighing 100 million tonnes.
  • One hectare of soil contains the weight equivalent of two cows of bacteria.
  • There are more organisms in one gram of healthy soils than there are people on Earth.
  • An earthworm can digest its own weight in soil every 24 hours. 50% of the planet soil passes through the gut of earthworms each year.
  • Soil organisms process 25,000 kg of organic matter in a surface area equivalent to a soccer field, which is the weight of 25 cars.

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