As soil is the basis of food systems, it is no surprise that soil health is critical for healthy food production. World Soil Day (WSD) 2022, annually observed on December 5, aligns with this.
GS I: Geography
Dimensions of the Article:
- About World Soil Day
- What is soil?
- Soil erosion
- Soil conservation Initiatives
About World Soil Day:
- It was recommended by the International Union of Soil Sciences (IUSS) in 2002.
- The Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) has supported the formal establishment of WSD as a global awareness-raising platform under the leadership of the Kingdom of Thailand within the framework of the Global Soil Partnership.
- 5th December 2014 was designated as the first official WSD by the UN General Assembly (UNGA).
- 5th December was chosen because it corresponds with the official birthday of H.M. King Bhumibol Adulyadej, the King of Thailand, who officially sanctioned the event.
Theme of the World soil day
WSD 2022, with its guiding theme, ‘Soils: Where food begins’, is a means to raise awareness on the importance of maintaining healthy soils, ecosystems and human well-being by addressing the growing challenges in soil management, encouraging societies to improve soil health, and advocating the sustainable management of soil.
What is soil?
- Soil is the loose material of the earth’s surface in which the terrestrial plants grow. It is usually formed from weathered rock or regolith changed by chemical, physical and biological process.
- Soil is the most important layer of the earth’s crust. It is a valuable resource. The bulk of our food and much of our clothing is derived from land-based crops that grow in the soil.
- The various agents of weathering and gradation have acted upon the parent rock material to produce a thin layer of soil.
- Soil is the mixture of rock debris and organic materials which develop on the earth’s surface. The major factors affecting the formation of soil are relief, parent material, climate, vegetation, Human activity and other life-forms and time.
- The destruction of the soil cover is described as soil erosion.
- Deforestation is one of the major causes of soil erosion. Plants keep soils bound in locks of roots, and thus, prevent erosion.
Balance between Soil erosion and soil formation
- The soil forming processes and the erosional processes of running water and wind go on simultaneously. Generally, there is a balance between these two processes. The rate of removal of soil particles due to erosion from the surface is the same as the rate of addition of particles to the soil layer.
Why is Soil erosion a problem?
- Sometimes, such a balance between erosion and formation is disturbed by natural or human factors.
- This leads to a greater rate of removal of soil.
- Human activities too are responsible for soil erosion to a great extent.
- Human settlement, for cultivation, for grazing animals and for various other needs degrade the soil faster than the rate of formation
Effects of soil erosion
- Soil erosion is one of the biggest problems for agriculture and its negative effects are seen in other spheres also.
- Eroded materials are carried down to rivers and they lower down their carrying capacity, and cause frequent floods and damage to agricultural lands
Soil conservation 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 (SHC) scheme:
- Earlier, farmers lacked information relating to soil type, soil deficiency and soil moisture content.
- To address these issues, the Government of India launched the Soil Health Card (SHC) scheme in 2015.
- The SHC is used to assess the current 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.
Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchayee Yojana:
- Other pertinent initiatives include the Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchayee Yojana, to prevent soil erosion, regeneration of natural vegetation, rainwater harvesting and recharging of the groundwater table.
Promoting organic farming practices under National Mission for Sustainable Agriculture (NMSA):
- In addition, 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.
Paramparagat Krishi Vikas Yojana
- Paramparagat Krishi Vikas Yojana, launched in 2015 is an elaborated component of Soil Health Management (SHM) of the major project National Mission of Sustainable Agriculture (NMSA).
- Under PKVY, Organic farming is promoted through adoption of organic villages by cluster approach and Participatory Guarantee System (PGS) certification.
FAO’s various initiatives to support government efforts in soil conservation:
- The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) undertakes multiple activities to support the Government of India’s efforts in soil conservation towards fostering sustainable agrifood systems.
-Source: Indian Express