Claims that the world may have only 60 harvests remaining because of improper soil management are “overblown” and “absurd”, according to a new survey by the University of Oxford. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) reported in 2014 that global soils were degrading so rapidly that there may be only 60 harvests remaining, writes Paula Fonseca in About Your Online Magazine.
The report warned that the generation of 3 cm of topsoil takes 1,000 years and, if current rates of soil degradation continue, all the topsoil in the world would disappear in 60 years.
FAO estimated that 24 billion tonnes of fertile soil or 12 million hectares of topsoil are lost every year – at the rate of 30 football fields every minute. If this continues, there will not be enough fertile soil to feed a growing world population, which is expected to grow from 7.7 billion today to 9.7 billion people by 2050, warned the FAO.
Hannah Ritchie, senior researcher at Oxford University and head of research at the science website Our world in data, said her research team investigated claims that there are only “30/60/100” harvests remaining as part of the first global assessment of soil life expectancy.
Dr. Ritchie said that these claims often make headlines, but she concluded that they were a “myth” and there was no “scientific basis” for them.