On World Soil Day, I welcome the increasing recognition of soil health as central to the future of agriculture and food security.
Today is World Soil Day and the theme is ‘Where food begins’. It is a day to celebrate for a number of reasons: I am in SETU in Waterford to launch their new Department of Land Sciences, where Dr Lillian O’Sullivan delivered the Inaugural World Soil Day lecture. Farming is all about the future, and soil health is central to that.
My Departmental colleague, Minister Martin Heydon announced €1.5 million in funding of researchers in four Irish research organisations collaborating with European partners under the European Joint Programme (EJP) Soil programme.
The EJP-Soil programme is exploring ways to enhance the contribution of agricultural soils to climate change mitigation and adaptation by providing knowledge on soil health and management practices.
Last weekend, I attended the European Green’s Congress in Copenhagen. I was inspired by the depth of understanding that soil is the biggest treasure in terms of food security and that the biodiversity beneath our feet is our biggest source of biodiversity.
Food Vision 2030 highlights that soil is critical in terms of agricultural output, producing healthy food, sequestering carbon, and supporting habitats and biodiversity.
I welcome the creation of a new ‘Soil Mission Mirror Group’ in Ireland and the unveiling of an expansion of the US-Ireland R&D Partnership to include the topic of ‘Soil Health’.
The focus of the mirror group will be to maximise Ireland’s participation in the Horizon Europe Mission ‘A Soil deal for Europe’, to which the EU has allocated over €142m for the 2023-2024 work programme.