Sustainable Growing

How we contribute to World Soil Day

Mirella Vitale
Mirella Vitale
December 3, 2018

We are striving towards a better and more sustainable future.

Society should be more committed to promoting sustainability, and contribute to a number of the Sustainable Development Goals in new creative ways. For World Soil Day, three of these efforts come into greater focus as we highlight initiatives that support the cause.

It’s dark and crumbly, and doesn’t look very interesting at first glance, but soil plays a bigger part in our lives than you might realise. 95% of our food comes from soil. What’s more, soil holds three times as much carbon as the atmosphere, which can help us handle the challenges of a changing climate.

To commemorate soil and raise global awareness of its importance, World Soil Day is celebrated every year on the 5th of December, at the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of the United Nations (UN) headquarters in Rome, the regional offices, and through national and local events. This year’s theme is “Be the Solution to Soil Pollution,” which aims to raise awareness about the severity of soil pollution and call for people to stop polluting our soil.

The UN has 17 Sustainable Development Goals which address global challenges, and promote a more sustainable future and better quality of life. Four of these goals help facilitate the fight against soil pollution by having objectives which take into account our natural resources and how they relate to food and security.

We should all strive to promote sustainable agriculture in an effort to end hunger. Given that 50% more food will be needed for the world and its growing population by 2050, while our natural resources are being rapidly degraded, we need a more efficient and viable way of producing food (FAO, IFAD, UNICEF, WFP and WHO, 2017). At ROCKWOOL, our products enable modern horticulture to increase production while using fewer natural resources.

During 2017, we collaborated with Wageningen University in the Netherlands to quantify the positive impact of growing tomatoes and cucumbers in Grodan horticultural growing media which is part of the ROCKWOOL Group compared to greenhouse grown, soilbased crops.

Each year, Grodan products sustain

people with drinking water because of their efficient use of water and land

Rockflow stone wool elements absorb

of their volume in water to help prevent soil degradation

We observed that Grodan growing media yields 76% more vegetables, allowing us to achieve greater food security. Additionally, this doubles the agricultural productivity and incomes of small scale food producers, thus ensuring their job security.

The results also showed that Grodan products require 53% less water and 80% less land, translating to drinking water that can sustain 85,000 people for a year (World Health Organization, 2003), as well as conserving of 26,000 hectares of land (Heuvelink and Marcelis, Wageningen University 2018).

In fact, Grodan hydroponics can be sited anywhere, including urban areas that would otherwise be completely unsuitable for traditional soilbased production, in turn freeing up our limited soil resources.

Additionally, we ensure the wellbeing of people by protecting them from the effects of extreme weather conditions. Lapinus, a brand under the ROCKWOOL Group, has made use of stone wool’s ability to absorb or repel water as needed to develop a water management system dubbed Rockflow.

Rockflow’s stone wool elements absorb up to 95 percent of their volume in water, and can be used under urban environments, quickly absorbing excess water and slowly releasing it into underground stone wool basins, while above ground activities and facilities remain functional and intact. As a result, soil degradation from heavy rainfall and flooding can be minimised using Rockflow.

Finally, we should all practice circularity to ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns. At ROCKWOOL this means that our products are not only long lasting, but naturally recyclable and therefore reduces global waste and pollution to soil. Moreover, we have developed our technology to further minimise resource consumption by using secondary materials from other industries.

One third of our global soil is already degraded. As our population grows, it has never been more important for us to combat this danger by adopting solutions that improve how we live.

So we invite everyone to join us in celebrating World Soil Day today, as we strive to improve our performance of Sustainable Development Goals. Learn more about how we are making a difference here, or find out what you can do to help achieve a more sustainable future on the UN website.



1. FAO, IFAD, UNICEF, WFP and WHO, 2017
2. World Health Organization, 2003
3. Heuvelink and Marcelis, Wageningen University 2018

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