The soil has a vital environmental function, as well as being crucial for agricultural production.
The soil produces nearly all of the food consumed by humans, filters and recirculates rainwater, regulates the climate, and acts as a fundamental reservoir of organic carbon and biodiversity. It is an essential natural resource, and life on this planet depends on it.
The soil feeds on what we introduce into the environment, processing it and returning it to us through the crops we grow in it.
The risks we face
Despite its immense value, the soil is at risk from rapid degradation processes like erosion, contamination and salinization. These phenomena are generally caused by human activities.
In particular, the industrialization of agriculture has significantly contributed to the impoverishment of soils, drastically reducing their concentrations of organic matter, i.e. fertility.
The mechanization of agricultural work has compacted the soil and destroyed natural aggregates, while irrigation leaches nutrients. Monocultures, pesticides, and herbicides all have a devastating effect on microbial biodiversity. Overall, the state of soil health is increasingly across large swathes of the planet.
The future is fertile soil
Soil fertility is the central theme of Slow Wine Fair 2024. Healthy, fertile soil is a requirement for truly good wines, and for the future of agriculture in general.
Slow Wine Fair launches an appeal to remedy soil degradation. We need a wholesale change in our approach to agriculture: a shift from conventional agriculture and viticulture, which are currently prevalent, to agroecology. This approach emphasizes the conservation of biodiversity, the protection of the landscape, and the integration of appropriate technological innovations.
A bulwark against the climate crisis
Slow Wine Fair 2024 builds upon the reflections of previous editions, which focused on the climate crisis. The climate and the soil are closely linked: the climate influences soil formation, and the soil, in turn, affects the composition of the atmosphere, particularly the amount of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases.
The soil contains more carbon than the atmosphere and all terrestrial vegetation combined. Small changes in its organic matter can have serious consequences for the atmosphere and global warming. Better soil management practices that increase organic carbon thus provide numerous benefits.
The soil we want
The soil we want is fertile, alive, rich in organic matter, covered with vegetation, less reliant on chemical inputs, and supportive of biodiversity, and thus less prone to erosion and desertification.
Agriculture and viticulture should contain the spread monocultures, curb the indiscriminate use of synthetic chemicals, protect the soil with mulch, and reduce or eliminate unnecessary plowing.
We’ll find out how we can do this at Slow Wine Fair.