Half of the world’s agricultural land is degraded. The recent decline in soil health has drained our food of nutrients and compromised the resilience of our economies – all while releasing 133 billion tons of soil carbon into the atmosphere.
Soil health refers to “the continued capacity of soil to function as a vital living ecosystem that sustains plants, animals, and humans.” Restoring it is paramount for our well-being, our economies, and our future.
Grocery stores showcase a rainbow of fresh produce, but this colorful facade conceals a troubling decline in the nutrient density of our food.
Numerous studies have documented a decrease in essential nutrients found in fruits, vegetables, grains, milks, and meats over the past 50-70 years. These dietary staples now lack protein, minerals, vitamins, and phytonutrients. “What our grandparents ate was healthier than what we’re eating today,” cautions Professor Kristie Ebi, an expert in climate change and health at the University of Washington.
This problem stems from modern industrial agriculture, which prioritizes yield and appearance over soil health and nutrition. Practices such as monocropping and intensive tilling strip soils of organic matter and micronutrients, the building blocks for nutrient-dense food. Hidden hunger, characterized by calorie-rich but nutrient-poor diets, affects two billion people worldwide.
The decline in nutrients carries a surprisingly overlooked consequence: flavor. “Nutrition equals taste,” says Tina Owens, a senior fellow at the Nutrient Density Alliance. A bland tomato isn’t just unappealing; it’s a sign of lost health-protective compounds that impart satisfying flavors to our foods.
Healthy soil is more than an ecological asset; it’s an economic one, with outsized impacts on international trade dynamics, GDP, food security, climate resilience, and farmer livelihood.
At the farm level, prioritizing soil health increases income, productivity, and reliability. According to a new report by Boston Consulting Group, practices that regenerate soil can boost farmers’ income by 120% within 3-5 years by enhancing crop yield and climate resilience.
Globally, soil vitality shapes trade balances, positioning nations on the competitive map of international commerce. Agriculture generates $10 trillion per year, over 12% of global GDP, and is a source of employment for over 40% of the global workforce. Take coffee, for instance, a top agricultural export in many developing countries. In Central America alone, 1.2 million livelihoods are directly tied to the coffee sector. Enhancing soil health can fortify their resilience and economic stability.
As President Franklin D. Roosevelt stated in 1937, “The nation that destroys its soil destroys itself.”
Regenerative practices—such as minimal tillage, cover crops, and rotational grazing—restore soil health. As soil health increases, so does the amount of carbon stored in soil. Carbon credits allow landowners to reap financial reward for restoring the ecosystem and ensuring a robust, nutrient dense food supply.
Boomitra partners with over 150,000 farmers and ranchers across eleven countries in the Global South to transform agricultural practices. Utilizing satellite and AI technology, Boomitra measures the subsequent rise in soil carbon levels and issues third-party verified carbon removal credits. Our projects will channel an estimated $200 million in carbon finance to farmers and ranchers by 2025.