Our Organisation Search
Quick Links
Toggle: Topics

World Soil Day 2022 - Soils: where food begins

World Soil Day 2022 - Soils: where food begins

Today December 5th marks the United Nations World Soil Day. The day is marked annually as a means to focus attention on the importance of healthy soil and to advocate for the sustainable management of soil resources. The theme for 2022 is - Soils: where food begins

Did you know?

  1. There are more living organisms in a tablespoon of soil than people on Earth? Soil is a world made up of organisms, minerals, and organic components that provides food for humans and animals through plant growth. 
  2. Of the 18 nutrients essential to plants, 15 of them are supplied by soils while 3 are absorbed by plants through photosynthesis
  3. Over the last 70 years, the level of vitamins and nutrients in food has drastically decreased, and it is estimated that 2 billion people worldwide suffer from lack of micronutrients, known as hidden hunger because it is difficult to detect.
  4. 33% of soils are degraded
  5. Up to 58% more food could be produced through sustainable soil management

In this video 18 farmers from across Europe - Ireland, Latvia, Sweden, Hungary, Germany, Northern Ireland, Italy, Slovenia, Switzerland and Denmark - give an insight on how they manage their soils to enhance soil health. Irish farmers are Signpost farmers Tom Tierney from Co Kildare and Don Somers, Enniscorthy, Co Wexford. Tom Tierney is the first farmers featured in the video. Don Somers can be seens at the 4:37 mark.   

Soil Fertility in Ireland 

National Soil Fertility Trends

In 2021 Teagasc analysed a total 33,876 soil samples comprising of dairy, drystock and tillage enterprises. There was 30,082 grassland soil samples. For dairy farms, 21,049 soil samples, on drystock farms 8,458 soil samples, overall soil samples take increased by 11% and 8% compared to 2020 for dairy and drystock. On tillage farms 3,794 soil samples were taken, which represents ~ 17% increase in soil samples compared to 2020.  This was primarily driven by the significant increase in the cost of N, P and K fertilisers projected mid 2021. The following is a summary of the main changes for soil pH, phosphorus (P) and potassium (K) in 2021.

National Highlights

  • All farm enterprises took more soil samples in 2021
  • Overall decline in soils with optimum soil fertility to 16% (-3%)
  • Soil pH declined to 54% of soils with a >pH 6.2 (-8%)
  • Soil P levels at Index 1 & 2 increased (54%) while soils at Index 3 & 4 decreased (46%)
  • Soil K levels remain simialr with a slight decrease in soils at K index 4

Enterprise Highlights


  • 16% of soils have optimum pH, P & K (3 % decrease)
  • 53% of soils with a soil pH >6.2 (10% decrease)
  • 55%of soils at P index 1 & 2 (4% Increase)
  • 48% of soils at K Index 1 & 2 (no change)


  • 13% of soils have optimum pH, P & K (2 % decrease)
  • 47% of soils with a soil pH >6.2 (10% decrease)
  • 61%of soils at P index 1 & 2 (11% Increase)
  • 50% of soils at K Index 1 & 2 (3% Increase)


  • 18% of soils have optimum pH, P & K (6 % Decrease)
  • 61% of soils with a soil pH >6.5 (13% Decrease)
  • 57%of soils at P index 1 & 2 (7% Increase)
  • 32% of soils at K Index 1 & 2 (2% Decrease)

In 2021 optimum soil fertility levels have decreased the range of 3 to 6 % for dairy, beef and tillage farms compared to 2020.  On these farms soil at P Index 1 and 2 have increased by 4 to 11%, while soil K levels have increased slightly on drystock farms, no change on dairy farms to slight improvements (+2%) on tillage farms.  Soils with optimum soil pH levels have decreased by 10 to 13% across all three-farm enterprises.  National lime applications increased by 50% in 2021 compared to the average application of ground limestone in the previous 10 years at 1.33 million tonnes. This will help halt the decline in soil pH levels as reported in 2021. 

Soil Fertility Data 2021

Teagasc Soil Fertility Report 2021(pdf)

All Soil Results & Enterprises 2021 (pdf)