Britain facing food crisis as world's soil 'vanishes in 60 years'
British farming soil could run out within 60 years, leading to a catastrophic food crisis and drastically higher prices for consumers, scientists warn.
By Andrew Hough
Published: 7:30AM GMT 03 Feb 2010
Fertile soil is being lost faster than it can be replenished and will eventually lead to the “topsoil bank” becoming empty, an Australian conference heard.
Chronic soil mismanagement and over farming causing erosion, climate change and increasing populations were to blame for the dramatic global decline in suitable farming soil, scientists said.
An estimated 75 billion tonnes of soil is lost annually with more than 80 per cent of the world's farming land "moderately or severely eroded", the Carbon Farming conference heard.
A University of Sydney study, presented to the conference, found soil is being lost in China 57 times faster than it can be replaced through natural processes.
In Europe that figure is 17 times, in America 10 times while five times as much soil is being lost in Australia.
Soil is also a valuable store of carbon and can release the greenhouse gas if it is ploughed or dug up.
The conference heard world soil, including European and British soils, could vanish within about 60 years if drastic action was not taken.
This will lead to a global food crisis, chronic food shortages and higher prices, the conference heard.