Let’s Preserve it: Soil is Life!

World Soil Day is celebrated on December 5th and its campaign, “Soils: Where food begins,” aims to raise awareness of the importance of maintaining healthy ecosystems and human well-being by addressing the growing challenges in soil management, increasing soil awareness and encouraging societies to improve soil health. Soil nutrient depletion is a serious worldwide concern for food security and sustainability.

Sustainable soil management is the practice of using and caring for the soil in a way that helps it remain healthy and productive for future generations. This is important because healthy soil is essential for growing food, supporting biodiversity, and mitigating climate change. There are several key principles of sustainable soil management. The first is to minimize soil disturbance, which can lead to erosion and loss of valuable soil nutrients. This can be achieved by using conservation tillage techniques, such as no-till farming, which leave the soil undisturbed and covered with crop residue. Another key principle is to maintain soil organic matter. This is because organic matter helps improve soil structure, increases water-holding capacity, and provides essential nutrients for plants. To increase organic matter in the soil, farmers can use cover crops, composts, and other organic matter sources.

It is also important to properly manage irrigation and drainage. Over-irrigation can lead to soil erosion and the leaching of valuable nutrients, while under-irrigation can result in reduced crop yields. By using proper irrigation techniques, such as drip irrigation or precision irrigation, farmers can optimize water use and reduce the risk of soil degradation. Additionally, sustainable soil management involves using sustainable sources of nutrients, such as compost and organic fertilizers, instead of synthetic chemicals. These sustainable sources not only provide essential nutrients for plants but also help improve soil health and reduce the risk of pollution.

IGSSS has been devising new innovative soil health rejuvenation approaches which are being pushed in collaboration with line departments and academic institutions. Composting, afforestation, crop rotation and crop management, soil moisture management, and other community actions have proven highly popular in more than 820 villages and 110 slums, incentivizing soil health in the long run. Farmers have been provided constant assistance and their capacities build on soil health management. Apart from this, the amelioration of income is visible in most of the families with whom we have worked. This is due to an increase in their overall crop output due to an improvement in soil quality.

“We are proud to contribute to the soil health of our villages by using vermicompost. It not only improves the soil health but also helps in saving a lot of money”, said a marginal farmer. In 20 villages of Chhatarpur district, Madhya Pradesh, farmers have prepared more than 75 vermi-beds which produce enough compost for their farming activities.

Commercial composting of slum home waste is a very successful and noticeable undertaking for enhancing soil health in urban environments. Recently, a participative method for measuring soil carbon sequestration was developed and put to the test in the field.

In Indore, the members of Ahirkhedi Mohalla Vikas Samiti have started a small cooperative where they collect and recycle the household waste generated in their basti (slum) into compost. The compost is sold in the market thereby providing the women with much-needed additional income.

IGSSS is unwaveringly committed to carrying out further work on soil management and uniting all stakeholder groups under one roof for the purpose of learning, sharing, scaling up, and replicating initiatives for soil rejuvenation.

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