“The nation that destroys its soil destroys itself.”
– President Franklin D Roosevelt, USA.
World Soil Day is observed on the 5th of December, with this year’s theme being “Soil and Water: A Source of Life.” It is a common misperception that people tend to think water is the main source of life. While this is true, it is essential to recognize that without healthy soil, life cannot be sustained.
The depletion of soil, which serves as a life source for the entire planet, is a concerning issue. The heavy use of synthetic fertilizers in modern farming, aimed at increasing harvest production, is a common practice. Although synthetic fertilizers may lead to economic gains in the short run, they lack the complex mix of nutrients and microorganisms found in healthy soil. This imbalance in soil chemistry ultimately results in soil degradation.
Monoculture farming, involving the planting of a single crop in each field, contributes to the depletion of soil nutrients and the accumulation of pests and diseases. This further exacerbates soil fertility degradation. Automated methods such as the use of heavy machinery for tillage are widespread nowadays, causing soil compaction and reducing soil organic matter, leading to a reduction in soil fertility. The extensive removal of natural vegetation and the exposure of bare soil for agricultural practices increase the risk of soil erosion, causing the loss of topsoil and soil nutrients.
Modern agricultural practices, deforestation, and industrial activities result in erosion, nutrient depletion, contamination with pesticides, and soil pollution, ultimately leading to soil degradation. The global crisis of climate change further intensifies soil degradation, with floods and droughts impacting soil quality and fertility.
On World Soil Day, it is crucial to recognize the need for sustainable soil management practices. This involves adopting techniques that enhance soil health while minimizing negative environmental impacts. What measures can we take before it’s too late? One might ask. We should be educated to recognize the need for sustainable soil management practices. This involves adopting techniques that enhance soil health while minimizing negative environmental impacts. Practices such as organic farming, agroforestry, cover cropping, and precision agriculture contribute to preserving and restoring soil fertility. Implementing these methods helps build resilient ecosystems, supports biodiversity, and ensures the long-term viability of our agricultural systems.
We can be part of the solution to reverse soil degradation by starting small, such as composting organic waste at home. Influence your friends, relatives, and neighbours to compost their household organic waste. Educate those who need it on this crucial issue. Be the leader—take that step. That’s our message for World Soil Day.
1st Year Undergraduate,
Biological Science Stream,
Faculty of Science,
University of Colombo.
- United Nations. (n.d.). World Soil Day | United Nations. https://www.un.org/en/observances/world-soil-day
- Nichepom. (2023, August 26). How does modern farming affect soil fertility. Niche Agriculture.
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