Attention ! Save our soil or else....
Surely you would have all seen the ongoing " Save Soil " campaign. Do you all know what the issue actually is & the gravity of the problem ?
Here is our attempt to explain the same, in a way we can all understand.
Indeed, we find OUR SOIL in a condition where it is DYING!
Time to look at the hard hitting facts..
United Nation says, if we continue to go the way we're going - by the year 2050, 90% of earth's soils could be degraded.
- In 20 years, 40% less food is expected to be produced for 9.3 billion people.
- Poor soil leads to poor nutritional value. Today's fruits and vegetables already contain 90% fewer nutrients than it did 20 years back.
- 2 billion people suffer from nutritional deficiencies leading to multitude of diseases.
What's the importance of healthy soil ?
Soil is the mix of organic matter, minerals, organisms, some gases, liquids - an ecosystem supporting all life on the planet.
A single handful of soil is home to more living organisms in a handful of soil than there are people on earth. Let that sink in for a moment.
In fact, there are more living organisms within the soil itself than above its surface.
Next time, you go outside, pick up a handful of soil and think about this fact.
Soil organisms play such an integral role in keeping soil healthy ..some important functions include :
• Help cycle nutrients - They decompose organic matter (from plant & animals remains) in the soil, returning nutrients to the soil so that plants can use & also regulate pests/diseases.
• Life in the soil also helps in carbon storage - which can help climate change. Earthworms breakdown fallen plant and animal into useable form for microbes who store carbon as they go on with life.
• Soil organisms borrow, craft and maintain structure of soil allowing flow of water, air and nutrients underground. A healthy soil can be a sponge up water during floods and retain them in droughts.
What has happened ?
The main issue is that of depletion of organic matter in the soil. Without any organic matter, soil turns to just sand & the area around it, dessertified.
Soil organic content affects a myriad of things like - quality of food harvested, amount of yeild, biodiversity of a whole lot of organisms who call soil their home..& even climate change.
Wide use of pesticides pose a grave threat to organisms needed for healthy soil, biodiversity, and the fight against climate change.
In a 2021 peer-reviewed study Pesticides and Soil Invertebrates: A Hazard Assessment - 71% of cases studied, pesticides kill or harm soil invertebrates like earthworms, ants, beetles and ground-nesting bees.
What's the solution ?
The solution mentioned in the current #savesoil movement is to increase organic matter of soil while enriching it through plant litter & animal waste...& Organic farming has always been focusing on just that!
Organic farmers use natural manure and compost & completely eliminate use of harmful chemicals/ pesticides on their soil.
As a result, soil organic matter is maintained high.
When maintaining a fertile, living soil is priority - underground heros like microbes & earthworms thrive at our organic farms.
Organic farming offers us all hope for the future !
Here are some tips for how we could help as individuals :
- Don't leave patches of soil around you, in your garden or apartment empty. Grow a combination of plants helping recycle nutrients and restoring its health.
- Segregate, compost your wet waste/plant&animal material. Organic material originates from plant and animals remains - adding compost to soil boosts its organic matter.
- While selecting plants, choose some helpful soil saving plants to include in your / common spaces - like nitrogen fixing, ones with deeps roots etc.
- Opt to support agroecological farming, like organic in your local area ..means voting for a method focusing on nourishing plants by building soil fertility naturally.