TOPICS: Improving soil quality

Those who are involved in agriculture business are either farmers, support organisations or the government.

They should come up with innovative ways so that the organic carbon in the soil can be increased. Increasing soil organic carbon and the sustainable farm management practices is the only way to reduce the threats posed to the soil.

Unfortunately, studies have shown that most of the farmers are interested in short-term monetary gains by increasing productivity and less concerned about the long-term sustainability of agricultural practices.

Efforts to increase soil organic carbon is known as soil carbon sequestration that is the way to go about it.

The degradation of soil fertility has resulted in weak production capacity and also in compromising the sources of income. According to the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), one-third of the world’s 1.5 billion hectares of arable land is moderately or severely degraded, having lost either part of its structure or fertility.

Soil resources are being over-exploited, degraded and irreversibly lost. Poor management practices, urbanization, industrial and mining activities and land-use changes are causing this degradation.

Further, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the UN states that converting natural ecosystems to agricultural plots has released roughly 66 billion tons of soil organic carbon from the ground since 1850.

Agricultural practices that reduce soil organic carbon threaten the activities in the soil and the ecosystem. The soil is an important part of the climate change conversation. The International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reports that the concentration of atmospheric carbon-dioxide has increased by nearly 40 per cent since the start of the industrial era.

Increasing soil organic carbon is possible in the following ways by enhancing plant residues in to the soils, increasing the quantity of organic matter soil inputs such as manure and compost and minimizing soil tillage to reduce decomposition losses. Managing soil helps to improve productivity.

Experience has shown that there is a wide variation in understanding the issues and implementation.

Sustainable agricultural practices, appropriate combinations of crop rotations, residue management, composting and cover crops that fight climate change, mitigate drought conditions, infuse better nutrition in food and increase crop yields.