Skip to main content

Combating soil pollution vital for addressing climate change (downtoearth)

Excess human activities leading to soil pollution took centre stage at the fifth Global Soil Partnership Plenary Assembly held at the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) headquarters in Rome.

Excessive amount of nitrogen and trace metals such as arsenic, cadmium, lead and mercury can impair plant metabolism and reduce crop productivity. When they enter the food chain, these pollutants pose risk to food security, water resources, rural livelihoods and human health.

“Soil pollution is an emerging problem, but, because it comes in so many forms, the only way we can reduce knowledge gaps and promote sustainable soil management is to intensify global collaboration and build reliable scientific evidence,” Ronald Vargas, a FAO soils officer, said.

“Combating soil pollution and pursuing sustainable soil management is essential for addressing climate change,” Rattan Lal, president of the International Union of Soil Sciences, said.

Combating soil degradation

Around one-third of the world’s soils are degraded due to unsustainable soil management practices. Tens of billions of tonnes of soil are lost to farming each year, which in some countries affects as much as one-fifth of all croplands.

When it comes to Africa, the Status of the World’s Soil Resources report has established that 40 per cent of the continent’s soils are severely degraded.

Land degradation is also a major problem in India. According to the State of India’s Environment 2017, India's total geographical area of 328.72 million hectares (MHA), 96.4 MHA is under desertification. In nine states, around 40 to 70 per cent of land has undergone desertification.

Healthy soils are vital for food security. Of the 17 sustainable development goals (SDG) and 169 targets, four contain targets related to soils and sustainable soil management.


Video credit: FAO

Fighting soil pollution

Soil pollution refers to the presence of chemicals in soils that are either out of place or at higher-than-normal concentrations. Such contamination may be produced by mining and industrial activity or by sewer and waste mismanagement.

In some cases, pollutants are spread over large areas by wind and rain. Agricultural inputs such as fertilizers, herbicides and pesticides and even antibiotics contained in animal manure are also major potential pollutants.

Soil pollution is an insidious risk because it is harder to observe than some other soil degradation processes, such as erosion. The hazards posed depend on how soil properties affect the behaviour of chemicals and the speed with which they enter ecosystems.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Khar’s experimentation with Himalayan nettle brings recognition (downtoearth)

Nature never fails to surprise us. In many parts of the world, natural resources are the only source of livelihood opportunities available to people. They can be in the form of wild shrubs like Daphne papyracea and Daphne bholua (paper plant) that are used to make paper or Gossypium spp (cotton) that forms the backbone of the textile industry.

Nothing can compete with the dynamism of biological resources. Recently, Girardinia diversifolia (Himalayan nettle), a fibre-yielding plant, has become an important livelihood option for people living in the remote mountainous villages of the Hindu Kush Himalaya.

There is a community in Khar, a hamlet in Darchula district in far-western Nepal, which produces fabrics from Himalayan nettle. The fabric and the things made from it are sold in local as well as national and international markets as high-end products.

A Himalayan nettle value chain development initiative implemented by the Kailash Sacred Landscape Conservation and Development Initiati…

SC asks Centre to strike a balance on Rohingya issue (.hindu)

Supreme Court orally indicates that the government should not deport Rohingya “now” as the Centre prevails over it to not record any such views in its formal order, citing “international ramifications”.

The Supreme Court on Friday came close to ordering the government not to deport the Rohingya.

It finally settled on merely observing that a balance should be struck between humanitarian concern for the community and the country's national security and economic interests.

The court was hearing a bunch of petitions, one filed by persons within the Rohingya community, against a proposed move to deport over 40,000 Rohingya refugees. A three-judge Bench, led by Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra, began by orally indicating that the government should not deport Rohingya “now”, but the government prevailed on the court to not pass any formal order, citing “international ramifications”. With this, the status quo continues even though the court gave the community liberty to approach it in …

Cloud seeding

Demonstrating the function of the flare rack that carries silver iodide for cloud-seeding through an aircraft. 
Water is essential for life on the earth. Precipitation from the skies is the only source for it. India and the rest of Asia are dependent on the monsoons for rains. While the South West Monsoon is the main source for India as a whole, Tamil Nadu and coastal areas of South Andhra Pradesh get the benefit of the North East Monsoon, which is just a less dependable beat on the reversal of the South West Monsoon winds.