When soil is degraded it suffers a loss of different innate qualities even though micro-climate and hydrology also change. Degradation is the reduction or destruction of land or soil for a particular use in future.
Soil is a great blessing of Allah. It plays an important role in absorbing carbon and filtering water. Worldwide, 70 percent area is consisting of water and remaining 30 percent is dry area (arable land and infrastructure). World population is increasing very rapidly so the need of food is also increasing with the passage of time.
Increasing food demand has urged the transition to advanced agricultural practices including extensive cultivation, fertilizers, pesticides and other agro-chemicals. However, all these practices have been reported to enhance the degradation of soil.
When soil is degraded it suffers a loss of different innate qualities even though micro-climate and hydrology also change. Degradation is the reduction or destruction of land or soil for a particular use in future. Therefore, Healthy soils are essential to meet the food requirements in next 4 decades.
It requires 1000 years for creating 3 cm of topsoil, and if this rate of degradation remain the same then all of the world’s topsoil is degraded within 40-60 years.
Appropriate management and agronomic practices are required to reduce nutrient loss and restore soil fertility. Extensive plough, inorganic fertilizers, over use of pesticides, polluted water, and changing environment degrade the soil by disturbing the soil structure. Excessive leaching, reduced in ph, compaction, accelerated soil erosion, depletion of organic matter, decrease in available nutrients, less microbial activity ultimately affects soil fertility.
Climate change and land degradation
Climate change is the major issue these days, and it is often noticed in the atmosphere. Interaction of soil with climate must be in mind before understanding the effects of climate change on soil.
Number of long term and small term changes have been observed. Increasing temperature, winds pattern and precipitation are few of them.
More acute accelerated carbon dioxide change climate, that results in desertification. Water resources are also associated with the climate change. Researchers need to build the ability to assess where climate is changing and which crops are suitable for that region.
Soil degradation hazards due to climate change include:
- All erosions (i.e wind, gully)
- Soil Carbon loss
- Decreased nutrient movement in soil
- Disturbed soil structure
- Soil acidification
Interventions for minimizing soil degradation
Various researches in the past have suggested different strategies for minimizing land degradation losses, mainly including recycling nutrients from sewage water, organic farming, re-engineering of agriculture system, fallowing for carbon rebuilding, and crop rotation.
Crop management techniques
Several ways of improving soil using by improved crop management techniques are:
- Crop rotation
- Use of organic fertilizers
- Ameliorate the soils with gypsum lime and sulphate etc
- Better use stubble management
- Rotavating the remaining parts of the plants in soil
- Cover crops in eroded soils
The authors is from Department of Agronomy, University of Agriculture-Faisalabad