Sustainability, It’s in the Soil

Sustainability, It’s in the Soil

May 7, 2018

Fertile and healthy soil is essential for agriculture and a sustainable food supply. Biotech crops and complementary herbicides reduce the need to plough—or till—and help to take care of the world’s arable farm land.

Both biotech crops and crop protection help to facilitate no-till. 10% of the world’s carbon dioxide is stored in the soil and tilling releases that into the atmosphere. The amount of CO2 saved in in one year alone by using herbicide-tolerant biotech crops – that help facilitate no-till – was equal to removing every single car from the streets of London for five years 1.

Click your way through the infographic below to learn about the layers of the soil and how biotech crops and crop protection lead to healthy and fertile soil!

GM Crops

Herbicide-resistant crops, when used with the correct herbicides, help farmers fight weeds. Without these innovations, farmers would have to till their fields to control the spread of weeds. Not tilling leads to less erosion, reduced greenhouse emissions, and greater levels of organic matter in the soil.

Crop Protection

Herbicides are an essential tool in an integrated pest management (IPM) strategy that is beneficial to the soil. Because herbicides control weeds, they help to reduce the need to till the soil; less fuel is used for tractors in the field and beneficial elements in the soil are protected from erosion.


The outermost layer is nutrient-rich and crucial for crop growth. It can take more than 500 years to form two centimeters of new topsoil. Over the last 150 years, the planet has lost half of its fertile soil so avoiding disruption is necessary to keep this top layer healthy and productive2.


As crops mature, their roots can reach through the topsoil into the second layer of subsoil. Here, they seek out water and minerals which can be supplemented with fertilizer3.

Parent Material

This third layer can be thick or thin depending on geography and does not contain organic matter. While this layer may not come into direct contact with crops, it is still very important in overall soil composition. Subsoil, and eventually the topsoil evolved from the parent material through erosion.


This is the foundation of the soil that is necessary to grow food. From this deep and hearty layer comes all the dynamic soil layers above it.