Sunday, April 28, 2013

Ten Laws of Sustainable Soil Management (Lal)

Dr. Rattan Lal developed 10 laws for sustainably meeting the demands of the growing world population.  They are worthy of some discussion and thought by soil scientists.

(1) Soil degradation and poverty: The biophysical process
of soil degradation is driven by economic, social, and political

(2) Stewardship and desperateness: The stewardship concept
is relevant only when the basic necessities are met. Desperate
people do not care about the stewardship.

(3) The soil bank: The nutrient and C pools in soil bank can
only be maintained if all outputs are balanced by the inputs.

(4) The law of marginality: Marginal soils cultivated with
marginal inputs produce marginal yields and support marginal

(5) The organic dilemma: Plants cannot differentiate the
nutrients supplied through organic or inorganic sources. It is
a question of logistics and availability.

(6) Soil as a source or sink of greenhouse gases: Agricultural
soils can be a major sink for CO2 and CH4, depending
on land use and management.

(7) Extractive farming and the environment: Extractive
farming and mining soil fertility adversely impact soil quality,
perpetuate hunger and poverty, exacerbate CO2 emissions,
and reduce ecosystem services.

(8) Synergism between soil management and improved
germplasm: The yield potential of improved germplasm can
be realized only if grown under optimal soils and agronomic

(9) Agriculture as a solution to environmental issues:
Rather than a problem, agriculture must always be integral to
any solution towards environmental development. Humans
will always depend on agriculture, and it must be the engine
of economic development.

(10) Modern innovations: Yesterday’s technology cannot
resolve today’s problems.

The entire article can be downloaded here:
Lal. 2010. Managing sols for a warming earth in a food-insecure and energy-starved world. J. Plant Nutr. Soil Sci. 173:4-15.

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