Healthy Soils Need More Biocontrol

Happy World Soil Day!

World Soil Day is held annually on 5 December to highlight the importance of healthy soils in our food systems. Let’s take this opportunity to look at the role biocontrol plays in preserving soils, which are home to 90% of the world’s fungi, 85% of plants and more than 50% of bacteria, making them the Earth’s most diverse habitat. 

Healthy soils are teeming with life and a tablespoon of soil has more living organisms than there are people on Earth. We depend on soils for about 95% of food production and preserving them is crucial for food security. Yet 33% of soils are degraded because of unsustainable soil management practices.

Potential of Biocontrol

Soil erosion is a serious problem affecting nearly all of Europe. Approximately 12 million hectares of severely eroded croplands in the EU contribute to an annual loss in agricultural productivity estimated at €1.25 billion euro. The good news is there are ways to deal with this.  

According to a European Commission study “Biocontrol innovations have significant potential to replace chemical pesticides in a range of crops, including in field crops such as cereals and oilseed.”  Biocontrol offers farmers solutions to maintain fertile soil which is essential for growing sufficient food for all and contributing to the health of people and the planet. 

Benefits of Biocontrol 

  • Biocontrol is an environmentally friendly form of pest and disease control that reduces the risk of soil damage.  
  • Biocontrol opens a virtuous circle generating more biodiversity and more resilient agricultural ecosystems. 
  • Biocontrol plays a vital role in ensuring beneficial microorganisms thrive and the preservation of soil microbial communities is crucial for keeping soils fertile and ecosystems healthy.  

Every year about 1 billion tons of soil are washed away by erosion in the EU, causing an estimated loss of agricultural production in the EU of €1.25 billion per year.

“We must look after our soils. Farmers need access to a range of sustainable alternatives to enable soil friendly food production and biocontrol can deliver a large part of these solutions.”

Jennifer Lewis, IBMA Executive Director

The Future is Biocontrol

Biocontrol can help preserve soil health, foster a resilient soil ecosystem and contribute to decreasing soil contamination. IBMA is working to ensure farmers have access to innovations that, with other agroecological practices, will contribute to shaping the future of agriculture.  Learn more about how biocontrol works here.