Save Soil | For years now, we have been talking about the rising climatic changes. We are developing ways to find solutions for reducing greenhouse gas emissions and relentlessly developing carbon capture technologies. But, what we are not giving much importance is to the issue of ‘soil decay’ i.e. the reduction in the organic matter of the soil.
If all the organic matter from the soil disappears, it will take about 150-200 years to regenerate the soil. Today, organic matter is vary differently in different parts of the world. For example, in India it is 0.6%; in Africa, it is 0.3%; in Europe 1.6%. According to experts, the soil should at least have 3-6% organic matter.
Critically, the soil has been the basis of the existence of all life on the planet and without the soil, the minuscule species like microbes and large animals would not sustain. And without organic matter, the soil will only be reduced to dirt. Soil has been taken for granted for years now. Deforestation is on the rise and more green land is being converted into agricultural fields.
Carbon Retention Property of Soil
The carbon capture that we talk about can all be achieved if the soil is used as a medium to store this carbon. We must understand that whatever soil is being degraded is all releasing carbon into the atmosphere. The carbon retention property of the soil has significantly decreased over time due to stimulation practices like, enhancing soil quality to produce more crops and meet food consumption needs.
Conferences like COP 26 have never mentioned anything about conserving and saving soil. Despite, the fact that the place we occupy and live on, the minerals we mine, and the food we eat are all produced from it. Soil is the ultimate provider to all living beings and should be the first topic to be discussed in climate conferences such as COP 26.
All these measures can be significant in the short term, but insignificant if practiced over time.
Usage of chemicals pose a threat to soil
Plants grown via chemicals do not develop good plant characteristics such as good root system, shoot system, and nutritional characteristics and will not have time to grow and mature properly.
The harmful chemicals or gases used as fertilizers cause air pollution in the first place, such as NH4, CO2, CH4, etc. And it will cause water pollution when the waste from industries is disposed of untreated in nearby water bodies. It also involves the most damaging impact of the accumulation of chemical waste in the bodies of water, i.e. water eutrophication. And its constant use, when applied to the soil, degrades the health and quality of the soil, thereby causing soil contamination.
We can add nitrogen compounds and spray other chemicals to increase soil fertility, but in the long run, it can backfire in ways we don’t understand.
FACTS AND FIGURES
· 27000 species get extinct each year. These include both microbial species and varied flora and fauna.
· In 2018, fertilizer consumption for India was 175 kilograms per hectare. Fertilizer consumption in India increased from 12.4 kilograms per hectare in 1969 to 175 kilograms per hectare in 2018 growing at an average annual rate of 5.96%.
· 52% of Agricultural soil is already degraded.
· Restoring soils of degraded and desertified ecosystems has the potential to store additional 1 billion to 3 billion tons of carbon annually, equivalent to roughly 3.5 billion to 11 billion tons of CO2 emissions.
Read more here: Soil as Carbon Storehouse: New Weapon in Climate Fight?
MEASURES TO SAVE SOIL
- Micro-organisms/microbial life is the most prominent ecology in this world. We need plant material or animal waste to put life back into the degraded soil to increase the organic content in the soil.
- To increase organic content, government to spread awareness about the micronutrients and health benefits. For example, in 1920, the nutrition in a single orange is eight times more than the current produce of oranges.
- In addition, government should actively ensure incentives to restore soil, like agriculture was promoted during Green Revolution.
- Reduction of harmful insecticides and pesticides along with other chemicals. In addition, an increase in the adoption of bio-fertilizers and organic manure such as cow dung and plant waste.
- Adoption of new technologies and their efficient use in agricultural and farming sectors.
- Empty land should be covered with region specific trees/crops/grass to reduce soil erosion. The region specific trees will help in getting back the ecosystem like migratory birds.
Disaster can be prevented by this generation to fulfil the people’s mandate and for the well-being of our generations and future generations. By 2050, a 60% rise in global food production and related ecosystem services need to be accomplished. But, through soil erosion, nutrient loss, salinity, sealing, and pollution soil is being exploited. One-third of global soil is currently facing moderate to extreme degradation, and the sense to act fast must rise from within us to save soil.
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