- Give data on soil degradation.
- Then very briefly refer to the causes & write its impacts.
- State the government steps.
Soil degradation is the decline in soil condition caused by its improper use or poor management, usually for agricultural, industrial or urban purposes.
According to Desertification and Land Degradation Atlas released by ISRO, 96.40 MHa area of the country is undergoing a process of land degradation i.e., 29.32% of the Total Geographic Area (TGA) of the country during 2011-13, while during 2003-05 the area undergoing process of land degradation is 94.53 MHa (28.76% of the TGA). Analysis shows that around 23.95% (2011-13) and 23.64% (2003-05) of desertification/land degradation with respect to total TGA is contributed by Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Jammu & Kashmir, Karnataka, Jharkhand, Odisha, Madhya Pradesh and Telangana in descending order. All other remaining states are contributing less than 1% (individually) of desertification/land degradation.
Causes: Soil degradation is caused by the interplay of various factors like soil erosion, water logging & salinity, shifting cultivation, overgrazing and urbanisation.
Impact of Soil Degradation:
- Land Degradation: Soil quality decline is one of the main causes of land degradation and is considered to be responsible for 84% of the ever diminishing acreage. Year after year, huge acres of land lost due to soil erosion, contamination and pollution.
- Drought and aridity: Drought and aridity are problems highly influenced and amplified by soil degradation. As much as it’s a concern associated with natural environments in arid and semi-arid areas, the UN recognizes the fact that drought and aridity are anthropogenic induced factors especially as an outcome of soil degradation.
- Loss of arable land: Because soil degradation contributes to land degradation, it also means that it creates a significant loss of arable land. As stated earlier, about 40% of the world’s agricultural land is lost on the account of soil quality depreciation caused by agro-chemicals and soil erosion. Most of the crop production practices result in topsoil loss and the damage of soil’s natural composition that make agriculture possible.
- Increased flooding: Land is commonly altered from its natural landscape when it rids its physical composition from soil degradation. For this reason, the transformed land is unable to soak up water, making flooding more frequent. In other words, soil degradation takes away the soil’s natural capability of holding water thus contributing to more and more cases of flooding.
- Polluting and clogging waterways: Most of the soil eroded from the land together with the chemical fertilizers and pesticides utilized in agricultural fields are discharged into waterways and streams. With time, the sedimentation process can clog waterways, resulting in water scarcity. The agricultural fertilizers and pesticides also damage marine and freshwater ecosystems and the limits the domestic uses of the water for the populations that depend on them for survival.
Steps taken by government:
- Soil health card scheme : An SHC is meant to give each farmer soil nutrient status of his/her holding and advise him/her on the dosage of fertilizers and also the needed soil amendments that s/he should apply to maintain soil health in the long run.
- Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchayee Yojana( Per Drop more crop): It is with the objective to enhance water use efficiency in the agriculture sector by promoting appropriate technological interventions like drip & sprinkler irrigation technologies and encourage the farmers to use water saving and conservation technologies. At the same time it reduces soil erosion in the field by reducing flood irrigation as well as by targeted application of water to the roots.
- National afforestation program: The Scheme is being implemented through a decentralized mechanism of State Forest Development Agency (SFDA) at State level, Forest Development Agency (FDA) at Forest Division level and Joint Forest Management Committees (JFMCs) at Village levels. It would help in reduction of soil erosion.
- National Mission for Sustainable Agriculture: Under this, the government is promoting organic farming to reduce the use of fertilizers and pesticides which would help in soil quality conservation.