August 14, 2022, Sunday
Nepal 1:37:26 pm

World Soil Day December 5

The Nepal Weekly
November 30, 2021

‘Halt soil salinization, boost soil productivity’

World Soil Day (WSD) is held annually on 5 December as a means to focus attention on the importance of healthy soil and to advocate for the sustainable management of soil resources.

An international day to celebrate soil was recommended by the International Union of Soil Sciences (IUSS) in 2002. Under the leadership of the Kingdom of Thailand and within the framework of the Global Soil Partnership, FAO has supported the formal establishment of WSD as a global awareness raising platform. The FAO Conference unanimously endorsed World Soil Day in June 2013 and requested its official adoption at the 68th UN General Assembly. In December 2013, the UN General Assembly responded by designating 5 December 2014 as the first official World Soil Day.

The selection of December 5 for celebrating the event happened because it coincided with the birth anniversary of H.M. King BhumibolAdulyadej. He was the King of Thailand and played a huge role in the activism leading to the formation of World Soil Day.  

Despite the campaigning and spreading awareness about the importance of soil, barely any efforts happened to protect it. Soils have been seen as inferior resources, and negligence is shown by both the people and the governments of the world.

Unlike other natural resources, the degradation of soil is something that does not come to notice easily by the inexperienced eye. It is a slow, silent process, which takes its sweet time, but the effects can be disastrous. Destruction and loss of Acres of land or soil can happen due to carelessness.

Thus, World Soil Day aims to attain global attention and bring the effects to light to everyone. Without soil, the ever-growing population will remain underfed since plants won’t have any space to grow. World Soil Day demands that recognition and support for the management of soil along with sustainability. It aims for proper maintenance and care of soil all over the world. World Soil Day also meant to raise awareness worldwide of the importance of soils for food security, agriculture, as well as in mitigation of climate change, poverty alleviation, and sustainable development.

Soil salinity is the salt content in the soil; the process of increasing the salt content is known as salinization. Scientists seriously working on soil are warning that soil salinization is one important thing that is threating to our global pantry.

Naturally saline soils may support rich ecosystems, but natural processes such as droughts and human activities, especially improper irrigation, can increase how many salts are in soils, a process that is called salinization. Soil salinization breaks down our soils and reduces their ability to help our food grow.

Soil salinization and sodification are major soil degradation processes threatening ecosystem and are recognized as being among the most important problems at a global level for agricultural production, food security and sustainability in arid and semi-arid regions.

Salt-affected soils have serious impacts on soil functions, such as in the decrease in agricultural productivity, water quality, soil biodiversity, and soil erosion. Salt-affected soils have a decreased ability to act as a buffer and filter against pollutants. Salt-affected soils reduce both the ability of crops to take up water and the availability of micronutrients. They also concentrate ions that are toxic to plants and may degrade the soil structure.

World Soil Day 2021 and its campaign ”Halt soil salinization, boost soil productivity” aims to raise awareness of the importance of maintaining healthy ecosystems and human well-being by addressing the growing challenges in soil management, fighting soil salinization, increasing soil awareness and encouraging societies to improve soil health.

The theme for world soil day 2021 bears motive to raise awareness about maintaining healthy ecosystems and our well-being, by pointing out the dangers of soil salinity.

The Nepalese economy relies heavily upon the agriculture sector, a source of livelihoods for 65.6% of the country’s active population and contributes 29.23% to the total gross domestic product. Healthy and vigorous plants are produced by healthy soils which help to increase crop production and can address the food requirements for human consumption. However, Nepal is considered as one of the food insecure countries with very low (around 16%) arable land area. About 86% of the total area of Nepal is occupied by hilly and mountain regions where cultivation is difficult, mainly due to topography.

Land usage in Nepal has been changing rapidly over the past decades. From 1961/1962 to 2001/2002, in a span of 40 years, the agricultural land use has increased by 53.6%, however in recent decades, it is starting to decrease. The total agricultural and arable lands have decreased by 0.3% and 3.1% respectively from 2001/2002 to 2011/2012. Additionally, high rates of soil erosion, subsistence and traditional farming practices, unscientific management of land, increased land fragmentation, deforestation, conversion of agriculture land to settlements, and unclear land tenure rights are some of the major problems that limit agricultural development in Nepal.

The poor soil management practice in cultivated lands has led to a higher rate of soil erosion, decreased crop production and productivity, and declined soil quality. It is estimated that 60% soils of Nepal have low organic matter (OM), 23% have low phosphorus (P), 18% have low potassium (K), and 67% of the soils are acidic. It has been estimated that 310 kg ha”1 of plant nutrient is lost annually because of the cereal-based farming system, whereas only 67 kg ha”1 of fertilizer is added to the soil through various fertilizer sources.

Soil properties in Nepal have been in the degrading trend for more than a century. Floods and lands slides erode soil from the mountains, forests, farms lands and surfaces which eventually reach toBay of Bengal. Moreover, Nepal has been chemical using chemical fertilisers for last 60 years. Similarly use of pesticides and chemical for agriculture are a common practice.

Keeping in view, degradation of soil quality, experts and professionals are raising voice to stop use of chemical fertiliser and pesticides to recover soil health.

In Nepal biogas plants are producing bio- fertiliser as a by-product which is good for agriculture. Mainly large size bio-gas plants are producing bio-fertilisers in large quantity. But bio-fertiliser industries (large bio-gas plant enterprises) are expecting supports from government in policy for promotion of bio-fertiliser. Similarly, bio-char to add with bio-fertiliser is another benefit to vitalise soil quality. Composted fertiliser is another benefitting component widely used in Nepal in the past. Vermiculture is one other practice successfully carried out in Nepal but that is still in a demonstrative stage.   The government agencies dedicated to agriculture and soil related aspects and similar organisations are organising to celebrate World Soil Day this year also to create awareness of soil health in policy makers, planners, politician and professionals.