Friday, December 05, 2014

One third of world soils degraded (FAO)

Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations estimates that a third of all soils are degraded, due to erosion, compaction, soil sealing, soil organic matter and nutrient depletion, acidification, pollution and other processes caused by unsustainable land management practices.

Jose Graziano da Silva, the director-general of FAO, made the remarks on Thursday, eve of the first World Soil Day to be celebrated on Dec. 5. Unless new approaches are adopted, the global amount of arable and productive land per person will in 2050 be only one-fourth of the level in 1960, he warned.

It can take up to 1,000 years to form one centimeter of soil, and with 33 percent of all global soil resources degraded and human pressures increasing, critical limits are being reached that make stewardship an urgent matter, Graziano da Silva said.

Calling soils a "nearly forgotten resource," he urged more investment in sustainable soil management, saying that would be cheaper than restoration and "is needed for the achievement of food security and nutrition, climate change adaptation and mitigation and overall sustainable development."

According to FAO, tiny organisms such as bacteria and fungi underground act as the primary agents driving nutrient cycling and help plants by improving nutrient intake, in turn supporting above-ground biodiversity as well.

Better management can assure that those usually unnoticed organisms boost soil's ability to absorb carbon and mitigate desertification, so that even more carbon can be sequestered -- helping offset agriculture's own emissions of greenhouse gases, FAO said.

Xinhua -

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