Stop Treating Soil Like Dirt


Ireland’s soils need your help. We rely on soil to provide healthy food, clean water, support wildlife, store carbon,
prevent flooding and ultimately maintain livelihoods around the country. But over the last half a century Ireland’s soils have come under increasing pressure from land use changes, intensification of agriculture, erosion and overgrazing, disposal of organic wastes to soils, afforestation, industry and urbanisation. Soils are not a renewable
resource so when we lose them they are gone. Because of this, we need to protect them. We are asking people to sign a petition calling for protection measures to be brought in Ireland and across Europe.

Cutaway sequence of a plant growing in dirt, roots showing, against a white background.



Soil is a remarkable substance that turns unusable materials into plant food, it stores carbon, filters water and
protects us from floods. Soil is formed from thousands of years of physical and biological processes and, as it takes
so long to re-form, it is effectively non-renewable. Because it is not renewable and we rely so heavily on it
we need to protect it.


The degrading of Ireland’s soils is a threat to our ability to produce food now and into the future. Food security and livelihoods are at risk if we allow the condition of our soils to continue to decline.


Soil compaction and erosion means that when it rains the land holds less water and this can lead directly to flooding.
Studies have shown that soil compaction can increase the rate of instant run off from 2% of all rain that falls on land to 60%.

flooding-ireland-697x376What we are calling for

We are calling for the European Union to create a Soil Directive which would make countries protect soils. Currently there are similar directives which protect water, air and nature. Protection for soils at European level would see the government have to assess the condition of Ireland’s soils and take action where needed. This could take the form of

people4soil_logoSoils Facts:


Soil is an extraordinary substance made up of minerals, rock particles, organic matter, air, water and living organisms. It is this combination of matter which supports life.

  • Soil is a non-renewable resource. It takes 1,000 years for just 1cm of topsoil to form, yet we are losing the equivalent of 30 football pitches of fertile soil every single  minute.
  • One third of the world’s arable land has been destroyed since 1960. In Europe, an area the size of Berlin is lost in soil every year.
  • One hectare of healthy soil contains contains 15 tonnes of living organisms – that is the equivalent to 20 cows! A single tablespoon of soil contains more living organisms than the entire human population on earth.
  Click here to sign the petition

Soil & Food

  • why-is-soil-important-to-plants_b3a8829a-63a2-45b3-9c38-53eb168cb3d0Over 95% of our food comes either directly or indirectly from our soil.
  • Sustainable soil management, it has been found, could increase food production by 58%.
  • Unless we prevent the continued degradation of Ireland’s soils, our ability to produce healthy, good quality food now and in the future will be seriously jeapardised.

Soil & Flooding


Photo: Brenda Fitzsimons/The Irish Times

  • Well managed soils reduce the impact of drought and flooding.
  • Healthy soil can store as much as 3,750 tonnes of water per hectare—that’s the equivalent of one and a half Olympic swimming pools.
  • With compacted soils, instant run-off from rain increases from 2% to 60%, with devastating consequences for homes, farmland and livelihoods.
Click here to sign the petition

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