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Soil scientists have spent decades warning that soil degradation is a threat to food security worldwide. But while policy makers remained sceptical, new research is revealing an alarming trend.

In this article, Jocelyn Kaiser looks at the links emerging between degraded soil and a slump in global crop yields, particularly in Africa, Latin America and South Asia. But while methods of combating erosion, nutrient depletion and salinisation exist, the trick is making them affordable for developing nations.

Some researchers say the biggest threat, however, is the combination of global warming with soil degradation. Higher temperatures could mean less organic matter, more carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and even higher erosion rates.

Link to article in Science

Reference: Science, 304, 1616 (2004)