Lack of top soil could lead to extinction of farming

FARLEY, Iowa (KCRG) - Farmers across eastern Iowa are facing a problem: their industry could have an expiration date. The need for the industry is obvious, but their top soil may fail them.

Tim Daly said and his family utilized a strategy called "contouring," a way of farming with the topography of the land to reduce erosion. (Aaron Scheinblum, KCRG)

The decline in available top soil expands as a worldwide issue, according to the United Nations. One U.N. official said almost all of the world's food, about 95-percent, comes from the use of top soil. Therefore, the issue spreads farther than farmers, but a problem for everyone.

Tim Daly, a farmer in Peosta, looks after 500 cattle and maintains 525 acres of farm land, nearly one square mile of land. Though most of the land is currently covered in snow, the soil underneath is invaluable to farmers like him.

"Once it's gone, you don't get it back," Daly said.

"Top soil is the most productive part of the soil," Daly said. "So as far as growing crops, you need top soil to produce crops."

If the world is on track to effectively run out of top soil, as officials from the U.N. worry, for farmers like Daly, every step he takes for the land is important to improve its longevity.

Daly and his family have worked to increase the life of their land using strategies like contouring, a way of farming with the topography of the land to reduce erosion. Daly said they have also made strides towards reducing their tillage.

But Daly explained the issue grows far beyond just the farmers that work the fields, but effects everyone.

"Our production in farming will decrease," Daly said. "And if that decreases, the price of food goes up."

"You want to produce the most you can, for the least amount of money, and do a good job at doing it," Daly said.

Daly said he believes changes need to be made sooner rather than later to avoid a potential catastrophe.

"We need to act," Daly said. "And we need to do something to prevent it from leaving us."

Top soil produces naturally, but it is an incredibly slow process. U.N. officials say making a little more than an inch of top soil, takes one-thousand years to produce.