Article in journal Science outlines threats to soil productivity
A group of leading soil scientists, including the University of Delaware’s Donald L. Sparks, has summarized the precarious state of the world’s soil resources and the possible ramifications for human security in a paper published Thursday, May 7, in the journal Science.
In a review of recent scientific literature, the article, titled “Soil and Human Security in the 21st Century,” outlines threats to soil productivity — and, in turn, food production — due to soil erosion, nutrient exhaustion, urbanization and climate change.
“Soil is our planet’s epidermis,” said Sparks, echoing the opening line of the article. “It’s only about a meter thick, on average, but it plays an absolutely crucial life-support role that we often take for granted.”
Sparks, who is the S. Hallock du Pont Chair in Soil and Environmental Chemistry in the Department of Plant and Soil Sciences at UD, has been chair of the National Academy of Sciences’ U.S. National Committee for Soil Sciences since 2013.
He and his five co-authors, who are also members of the national committee or leaders of soil science societies, wrote the paper to call attention to the need to better manage Earth’s soils during 2015, theInternational Year of Soils as declared by the United Nations General Assembly.
“Historically, humans have been disturbing the soil since the advent of agriculture approximately 10,000 years ago,” Sparks said. “We have now reached the point where about 40 percent of Earth’s terrestrial surface is used for agricultural purposes. Another large and rapidly expanding portion is urbanized. We’re already using the most productive land, and the remainder is likely to be much less useful in feeding our growing population.”
As the population of the planet grows toward a projected 11 billion people by 2100, the key to producing enough food will be to find better ways to manage the agricultural lands we already have, Sparks says, rather than expanding into new areas. However, this will mean overcoming some rather daunting challenges.
According to the Sparks and his colleagues, soil erosion greatly exceeds the rate of soil production in many agricultural areas. For example, in the central United States, long considered to be the “bread basket” of the nation, soil is currently eroding at a rate at least 10 times greater than the natural background rate of soil production.
The loss of soil to erosion also involves the loss of key nutrients for plant growth, leading to the need for commercial fertilizers. However, the current rate of fertilizer production is unsustainable, according to Sparks.
“The evidence for this is in the recent spike in the price of fertilizers,” he said. “The primary components of fertilizer are either very energy-intensive to produce or they are mined from limited supplies on Earth. It’s a classic supply-and-demand situation leading to large price increases that must eventually be passed on in the price of food.”
Read more: Soil & Human Security in the 21st Century
The Latest on: Soil productivity
via Google News
The Latest on: Soil productivity
- Qatar- Growing pastoral plants in soil with high salinity levels has succeededon July 5, 2020 at 12:10 am
Growing pastoral plants in soil with high salinity levels has succeeded in Qatar through the comprehensive management of soil, water and crops within the third phase of a regional project in ...
- Growing pastoral plants in soil with high salinity levels has succeededon July 4, 2020 at 3:44 pm
Growing pastoral plants in soil with high salinity levels has succeeded in Qatar through the comprehensive management of soil, ...
- Qatar's efforts to grow fodder crops in high saline soil succeedon July 3, 2020 at 9:18 am
Growing pastoral plants in soil with high salinity levels has succeeded in Qatar through the comprehensive management of soil, water and crops within the third phase of a regional project ...
- A Congo Basin ethnographic analogue of pre-Columbian Amazonian raised fields shows the ephemeral legacy of organic matter managementon July 2, 2020 at 2:28 am
Columbian raised fields (RFs) and their role in the development of complex societies in Amazonian savannas remain debated. RF agriculture is conducted today in the Congo Basin, offering an instructive ...
- Institute rolls out five-year plan to checkmate soil degradationon July 1, 2020 at 9:29 pm
NISS has rolled out a five-year strategic action plan to tackle soil degradation promotion and sustainable soil management ...
- WIU School of Ag Participates in Soil Bucket Program for Third Yearon June 29, 2020 at 12:42 pm
For the third year in a row, the Western Illinois University School of Agriculture is partnering with the Illinois Corn Marketing Board (ICMB) to provide programming for high school agriculture ...
- Why India’s cost of production high but productivity is low – Explainedon June 26, 2020 at 6:45 pm
Inefficiencies of India’s infrastructure, logistics and supply chains, and corrupt practices, put a considerable burden on achieving cost efficiencies for businesses operating in India, leading to low ...
- Pakistan to convert locusts into organic fertilisers, improve crop productivity by 15%on June 25, 2020 at 6:51 am
The Ministry of National Food Security and Research (NFS&R) has proposed that locusts collection will be incentivised through community mobilisation to control the hoppers at the grass-root level, ...
- Early Zoom backer, Mike Cannon-Brookes back Soil Carbon Coon June 24, 2020 at 7:12 am
Soil Carbon Co has created a solution that could help plants extract and store 25 per cent of the world's yearly carbon emissions.
- Clean energy agency invests in soil carbon business ventureon June 24, 2020 at 7:00 am
Australia's clean technology investment agency is taking a punt on an ambitious venture to tackle climate change by capturing carbon in farmers' soils.
via Bing News