The short answer is: “It can help.”
This presentation challenged soil scientists to use their resources and knowlege to play a key role in solving world problems, especially in meeting the food target of future generations within rapidly emerging constraints on availability of land and increasingly limited nutrient resources.
Julian Cribb highlighted the waste of nutrients washed or blown away in eroded topsoil and the need to retain them for food production rather than supporting microbial and algal blooms in rivers and oceans. We were also challenged to urgently address the need to use nutrient resources more wisely and to re-use them from urban waste streams. World food production needs to double by 2050 but double the land will not be available and nutrient loss cannot continue at the current rate.
Parallel issues related to adequate quantities of clean water and energy use (including the use of arable land for fuel production - displacing agriculturally productive land) pose challenging ongoing issues for soil scientists.
Cribb J (2006) Keynote Presentation at the Combined National Conference on Soils, Adelaide, Dec 2006.