Meta-Review: Pesticides Kill or Harm Soil Invertebrates Essential to Soil Health

May 7, 2021 | Soil health is one of the linchpins on which the food production that sustains human life—as well as biodiversity, pollinator health, and carbon sequestration—depends. A recent meta-review in Frontiers in Environmental Science of nearly 400 studies finds that, in 71% of the cases reviewed, pesticides kill or otherwise harm soil invertebrates that contribute mightily to soil health. The researcher writes, “A wide variety of soil-dwelling invertebrates display sensitivity to pesticides of all types. ….[These results] support the need for pesticide regulatory agencies to account for the risks that pesticides pose to soil invertebrates and soil health.” Beyond Pesticides, concurs with that conclusion, and adds that the real solutions to noxious pesticide impacts lie in the adoption of regenerative organic approaches to all land management because they obviate any need for petroleum-based toxic chemical controls. The study also notes that research studies on pesticide impacts often “use a narrow range of surrogate species that are easy to rear, identify, or study, while smaller and more cryptic organisms are rarely analyzed. In some cases, the organisms that are the most extensively studied are known to be less sensitive to pesticides than other organisms, suggesting that we have limited knowledge of the extent of harm caused by pesticides.” [Gunstone, Tari et al. Pesticides and Soil Invertebrates: A Hazard Assessment, Frontiers in Environmental Science. May, 2021.]