Fertilizers are responsible for over half of global food production, but there are areas in world with nutrient deficiency and other areas of nutrient excess.
Managing mineral plant nutrients requires careful application of science and skill to meet production, environmental, and social goals.
Monday, May 30, 2016
Year of Soils: Soil Degradation Destroys Productivity
cares about dirt? Soil is the fragile skin on the earth that provides more than
95% of our food. Soil also provides an essential life-sustaining role in
cleaning air and water.
we lose our soil, many vital functions are also lost. It has been estimated
that over 40%
the soil used for agriculture around the world is already degraded or seriously
degraded and that half of the topsoil on the earth has been lost during the last
150 years. Soil degradation is the slow decline in land quality caused by human
activity. We have plenty of reasons to be concerned with this growing threat to
become degraded from both man-made activities and accelerated natural processes. Some
impacts of soil mismanagement and degradation include compaction and poor
drainage, depletion of essential plant nutrients, rapid loss of
organic matter, accumulation of salts, and acidification. Soil degradation frequently
accelerates soil erosion and may result in permanent loss of a soils productive
degradation is a severe challenge that threatens the sustainability of crop and
worldwide. For example, in sub-Saharan Africa, about 65% of the land area is degraded,
with devastating economic and human impacts.
major constraints to agricultural productivity in sub-Saharan Africa resulting
include soil acidity and aluminum toxicity, nutrient depletion, and soil
erosion with resulting shallow soils. The slow process of restoring these soils
begins by balanced addition of crop nutrients and lime, adjusting cropping
rotations to include cover crops, and adopting practices to halt soil erosion.
Soil degradation in Sub-Saharan Africa (IPNI)
major step in preventing soil degradation is proper use of plant nutrients.
plant nutrients removed in harvested crops, preventing nutrient exhaustion of
the soil. Several recent studies show that proper fertilizer use maintains or
improves soil microbial activity, boosts inputs of crop residue returned to the
soil, and can maintain soil organic matter...all while enhancing crop yields.
damaging effects of soil erosion are also felt off of the farm. Streams and
become clogged with sediment and nutrients lost
from agricultural fields, damaging fish and aquatic life.
Erosion and soil degradation is usually a slow
process, easily escaping our attention at first
However, their cumulative effects are devastating on many levels. Farmers
everywhere should consider how they can protect their precious soil resources.
Their livelihood and their neighbors depend on careful stewardship of the soil
beneath our feet.