Soil Management and Food Security

Soil Management and Food Security

Soil Management and Food Security

The topic is based on Soil Management and Food Security. This article talks about how soil management impacts on Environment and Climate Change in India

Relevance for Prelims: Organic Farming, Soil Erosion, Integrated Farming, Food Security

Relevance for Mains: Regenerative Agriculture

Context: The theme of World Soil Day aligns with the guiding theme “Soil, where food begins” to increase awareness of the importance of maintaining healthy soils.

Significance of Soil Management

Carbon Storage: They help in regulating the planet’s climate by storing carbon and are the second largest carbon sink after oceans.

The basis for Food Security: Without proper management of soil, food cannot be grown in an efficient manner. (95% of food comes from the soil).

Habitat: Soils are habitats for beneficial soil microbes; these organisms are nature’s hidden helpers. They form synergistic relationships with plants to protect them from stress and provide them with nutrients, among other tasks. According to the USDA, “one teaspoon of healthy soil contains, 100 million-to-1 billion individual bacteria alone.”

Nature’s Filter: Soils filter surface water of dust, chemicals, and other contaminants. This is why underground water is some of the cleanest sources of water. In fact, according to Soils.Org, “through natural processes, such as soil absorption, chemical filtration, and nutrient cycle, the Catskill Watershed provides New York City with clean water at a cost of $1-to-1.5 billion, much less than the $6-to-8 billion one-time cost of constructing a water filtration plant.”

Concerns Associated:

  1. Nearly 3.7 million hectares of land suffer from a nutrient loss in soil (depletion in soil organic matter or SOM).
  2. Excessive use of fertilizers and pesticides and irrigation with contaminated wastewater are also polluting soils. The Impacts of soil degradation are far-reaching and can have irreparable consequences on human and ecosystem health.
  3. The increase of pressure on land due to the population explosion has increased deforestation which further increases carbon stock and loss of the top layer of soil.
Soil Management

Pic: Close up low angle view of the row of young corn stalks in the field in springtime

Government’s initiatives:

Five-Pronged Strategy: The Government of India is implementing a five-pronged strategy for soil conservation. This includes making soil chemical-free, saving soil biodiversity, enhancing SOM, maintaining soil moisture, mitigating soil degradation, and preventing soil erosion.

Soil Health Card: The government of India launched the Soil Health Card (SHC) scheme in 2015. The SHC is used to assess the status of soil health, and when used over time, to determine changes in soil health. The SHC displays soil health indicators and associated descriptive terms, which guide farmers to make necessary soil amendments

National Mission for Sustainable Agriculture (NMSA) has schemes promoting traditional indigenous practices such as organic farming and natural farming, thereby reducing dependency on chemicals and other Agri inputs, and decreasing the monetary burden on smallholder farmers.

Way Forward:

There is a need to strengthen communication channels between academia, policymakers, and society for the identification, management, and restoration of degraded soils, as well as in the adoption of anticipatory measures. These will facilitate the dissemination of timely and evidence-based information to all relevant stakeholders.

Greater cooperation and partnerships are central to ensuring the availability of knowledge, sharing of successful practices, and universal access to clean and sustainable technologies, leaving no one behind. As consumers and citizens, we can contribute by planting trees to protect topsoil, developing and maintaining home/kitchen gardens, and consuming foods that are mainly locally sourced and seasonal.


The Hindu

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