Ground Report | New Delhi: Agricultural land disables; Although it is an essential ingredient in any food and a symbol of wealth for many centuries, salt is also synonymous with destruction. The artificial process of salinization of soils is today inconceivable, since collecting enough salt to make large areas of land infertile would be a very costly logistical challenge.
Agricultural land disables
But that is precisely what climate change and human activity are quietly doing in many parts of the world, making this process one of the most important global problems for agricultural production, food security, and sustainability, especially in the arid and semi-arid regions, where soil salinization disables up to 1.5 million hectares of agricultural land per year.
The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (known as FAO) estimates that 8.7% of the planet’s soils are affected by salinity, a figure that rises to between 20 and 50% in the case of irrigated land, where the estimated annual loss of agricultural productivity due to salinization is 31 million dollars.
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Given this situation, it is not surprising that World Soil Day 2021 serves to launch a campaign with the slogan “Stop the salinization of soils, increase their productivity”, which aims to raise awareness about the importance of maintaining healthy ecosystems by addressing the challenges in land management, fighting against its salinization, and encouraging all societies to commit to improving the health of the land on which we depend.
833 million hectares of soils affected
Of course, first of all, it is important to note that the land with a high salt component does not have anything inherently bad. In fact, saline or sodium soils occur naturally and are home to valuable ecosystems, including a variety of plants that have adapted to salty conditions. In total, according to FAO calculations, there are more than 833 million hectares of soils affected by salt throughout the world, representing 8.7% of the planet’s surface. Most of them can be found in naturally arid or semi-arid environments in Africa, Asia.
However, natural saline soils can develop rapidly in response to human activities and not only expand but are often affected by increased salinity, either because irrigation or fertilization is poorly managed or because there has been infiltration. in saline water cultures of the sea, river, or groundwater. In these cases, soils suffer a rapid deterioration of health, losing their capacity for biomass production, natural filtration, carbon sequestration, and other necessary functions of the ecosystem.
In addition, saline soils contain more soluble salts than gypsum in a sufficient concentration to adversely affect the ability of plants to absorb water, while sodium soils contain high amounts of sodium ions that weaken the bond between the particles that form the soil structure. This destructuring through dispersal leads to soil compaction, which severely reduces water flow and also impacts plant growth and health.