Russia’s invasion could cause long-term harm to Ukraine’s prized soil

By now, wheat planted late last year waves in fields across Ukraine. Spring crops of sunflowers and barley are turning swaths of dark earth into a fuzz of bright green. But with Russia’s war being waged in some of the most fertile regions of Ukraine, uncertainty looms over summer harvesting.

Ukrainian farmers braved a war zone to carry out close to 80 percent of spring planting, covering roughly 14 million hectares. Still, Russia’s invasion has raised fears that not only are this year’s crop yields in jeopardy, but also that Ukraine’s agricultural output could be diminished for years. At the root of this worry, in part, is how warfare impacts soil.