RSB Principle and Criteria on Soil
|The Roundtable on Sustainable Biofuels|
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and criteria (Version 0)
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8. Biofuel production shall promote practices that seek to improve soil health and minimize degradation.
- 8.a Soil organic matter content shall be maintained at or enhanced to its optimal level under local conditions.
Key guidance: The optimal level of organic matter is to be defined through the consultation of local experts, communities and producers, taking into account local climatic, geologic and ecologic conditions. Realistic targets should be set, in accordance with the producers’ capacities and on a reasonable timeline. Follow-up indicators should focus on the implementation of recognized good practices. The use of agrarian residual products, including lignocellulosic material, must not be at the expense of other essential functions for the maintenance of soil organic matter (e.g. compost, mulch).
- 8.b The physical, chemical, and biological health of the soil shall be maintained at or enhanced to its optimal level under local conditions.
Guidance: The physical health of the soil is evaluated by using indicators such as aggregate stability, erosion, compaction, infiltration rate, bulk density and any other relevant indicators. The chemical health of the soil is evaluated by using indicators such as soil pH, cation exchange capacity, clay mineralogy, micro- and macronutrients availability, and any chemical processes and reactions ensuring soil health and renewability under local conditions. The biological health of the soil is evaluated by using indicators such as, soil fauna and flora, respiration, microbial biomass, root system health, food webs and any other relevant indicators, as well as ecological process ensuring soil health and renewability under local conditions. Soil erosion must be minimized through the design of the plantation or production site and use of sustainable practices (where possible: use of perennial crops, no till, vegetative ground cover, side-hedges of trees, etc.) in order to enhance soil physical health on a watershed scale. WHO class Ia and Ib pesticides are prohibited. Risks to health related to the application of pesticides are covered under 4.f.
- 8.c Wastes and byproducts from processing units shall be managed such that soil health is not damaged.
Guidance: Processors shall implement a waste management plan and disposal plan that protects soils. Hazardous chemicals and their containers shall be disposed of appropriately, or cleaned such that there is no risk of soil contamination. Mill effluent shall be treated and discharge quality monitored, in accordance with national regulations and sector-defined good practices.