Our global soil resource is extremely valuable non-renewable natural resources that is often neglected or not given the due importance it warranties. Several anthropogenic factors like rampart environmental pollution, rapid expansion of industry and agriculture without any sustainable environmental planning, exponential rise in global human populations, destruction of natural virgin forests and jeopardizing ecosystems for developing infrastructure without any environmental impact assessment, political instability, socio-economic crisis, infringement into forested areas, extensive use of chemicals in agriculture, changes in non-sustainable land use patterns, non-environment friendly agronomic practices like extensive tillage, grazing in restricted forested areas, slash-and-burn method of agriculture, anthropogenic wildfires to mention only a handful. All these factors are cumulatively responsible in negatively impacting soil health, soil fauna, physicochemical characteristics of soil such as soil texture, soil profile, soil pH, permeability, fertility, mineralization, porosity, soil organic matter deposition, loss of top soil due to extensive erosion, low productivity and significant increase soil borne diseases around the globe.
It is therefore important to pay serious attention in conserving global soil resources through sustainable soil management practices and avoiding destroying soil characters through extensive tillage based agriculture, avoid extensive application of toxic chemicals, avoiding grazing and heavy dependence on scanty forest resources for their daily sustenance by remote rural populations, fringe dwellers and forest residents, avoid extensive infrastructure development in virgin forested areas, practice green manuring, systematic crop rotations, avoid keeping soil surface exposed at any time of the year by eradicating weeds and cultivating various cover crops for economic sustenance as well for improving soil health and soil quality. Planned systematic crop rotations and use of cover crops are two very important factors in keeping the soil fertile, less stressed and for preventing active soil erosion. Plant roots in the soil will help keeping the soil processes active in interaction with soil fauna; resulting in mineral recycling, active mineralization, building soil organic matter, humus and protecting the top soil, will help in increasing hydration and aeration within soil layers and keep the soil healthy and productive for years to come. Use of natural green crop manures like various annual and perennial legumes and mixing them with soil during flowering can help adding significant amount of nitrogen to the soil.
I strongly recommend and humbly request the State and Central governments to take serious and active initiates in soil conservation projects across the state in various districts representing different agro-climatic regions. The stronger the role we play in protecting our soil today, the better secured will be our future of our agriculture, forestry, ecology and environments tomorrow.
Saikat Kumar Basu,