An area of topsoil equivalent to 2,700 football pitches would be lost in just 90 mins!

Gopal Jeyasundra
Published in
4 min readJun 28, 2018


At a 2014 forum held in Rome and organised by the UN Food & Agriculture Organisation (FAO), Maria — Helena Semedo gave a stark warning to all those attending that it takes 1,000 years to generate 3 centimetres of top soil and approximately one-third has been lost. If the present rate of soil degradation continued, all the World’s topsoil would be gone within 60 years. She went to say that degraded soil means the amount of arable and productive land per person in 2050 will be only 25% of what it was in 1960.

This was put in more simplistic term by Volkert Engelsman of the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements, who said that the World is losing an area of soil equivalent to 30 soccer fields a minute. At the time of writing the FIFA Football World Cup is being held in Russia. As we watch any one match of 90 minutes by the time the referee blows the final whistle, we will have lost an area of top soil the size of 2,700 football pitches.

Too often we take the World’s resources for granted and soil is no exception. We need to be aware of the importance of soil and the role it plays in environmental matters. The FAO reported that the soil has a key function in absorbing carbon and filtering water. As degradation continues less carbon is stored, the world gets hotter resulting in further degradation of the land and so the cycle continues and problem worsens.

As the population of the World increases greater pressure is applied to farmers to increase production and at the same time to reduce costs. However, it is self-evident that productivity will become ever more difficult as the amount and quality of the top soil decreases.

It should be apparent that the matter needs addressing as a major priority particularly as the problem is worse where the population is increasing the quickest e.g. Africa and Asia.

The problem of soil degradation is mostly due to intensive farming in which there is an over reliance upon chemical fertilisers, deforestation and global warming. Organicco can do little about the latter two causes but can assist in the reduction of chemical fertilisers. These not only play a part in soil degradation but also have adverse effects upon the environment when they find their way into rivers and streams.

Organicco has spent many years developing its ecoHERO and ecoDRYER systems.

The ecoHERO system will take kitchen waste, farm waste, fishing industry waste and abattoir waste and by a process of aerobic digestion will convert it into stable organic fertiliser in less than 5 days, sometimes as little as one day. It does not require additional enzymes or chemicals and the main by-product is water vapour and CO2. In future, Organicco plans to capture this CO2 and make a saleable product from it.

ecoDRYER, installed in Essex, UK

The ecoDRYER system benefits all Anaerobic Digestion systems by converting the digestate by-product into a quality organic fertiliser. However, its application is not limited to AD operators but can be used to dry a variety of materials such as sludge, animal slurry, manure, woodchip, sawdust, green waste and sewage. The waste goes through the process and converts it into organic fertiliser.

Both systems offer a closed loop cycle whereby what comes out of the ground initially at the start of the food chain, eventually goes back into the ground as organic fertiliser.

Organic fertiliser release nutrients as it breaks down and as it does so the structure of the soil is improved increasing its ability to hold water and nutrients. As well as producing food items free of harmful chemicals the nutrients are necessary for plant growth. They have the benefit of being slow-acting and gentler than the alternative chemical fertiliser. This gentleness means they are less likely to cause users to overfeed and even chemically burn the plants/crops whilst the plants/crops get the benefit of nutrients for growth more evenly over a longer period rather than all at once.

ecoHERO, installed in Can Tho, Vietnam

The organic fertiliser is absorbed by plants/crops by being broken down by soil bacteria and fungi. This means that unlike chemical fertilisers, organic fertilisers are not easily washed away.

Organic fertilisers help improve soil structure and nutrient content. While chemical fertilisers add water-soluble chemicals, which are either absorbed by the roots or leach away potentially polluting water resources, organic fertilisers add organic matter that helps the soil to retain moisture and nutrients.

Whilst chemical fertilisers do have certain things in their favour in that they provide all the nutrients a plant needs they do have many disadvantages including long term detrimental effects upon the soil. They are a major contributor to soil degradation and the enormous problems that is causing are outlined above.

The solutions being offered by Organicco will not in themselves solve the problems but will help as a move away from chemical to organic fertiliser will be of enormous benefit to the soil.

Organicco is seeking major investment to enable it to bring its systems to a global market in much need of them. The company has its product placed in various parts of the World but is looking to deliver much needed solutions quicker than it has up until the present time. The prospect of only 60 years top soil left is a frightening prospect to all who care to consider it and time is of the essence. One thing is certain, we may stand still to consider our options, but time will not.

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