Finding solutions to soil related problems using an interregional approach- Knowledge@Terra
Paddy fields with palm trees in Kerala. Wikipedia Creative Commons, by McKay Savage from London, UK
The old Ernakulam Market for vegetables and fruits in Kochi City, Kerala, India. Photo: Vibhu from https://www.thehindu.com
Floods in Kerala, 2018, Source:SNC Initiated Operation Madad in Kerala; author: Indian Navy
Copyrighted work on wikipedia of the Government of India, licensed under the Government Open Data License- India(GODL)
Soil is one of the most important ecosystem as it provides food, and a number of ecosystem services for the sustenance of life on earth. But compared to other resources like land and water, pollution of soils or soil quality is often not well addressed. In many places, continuous agriculture and intensive cultivation with fertilizers and manure can lead to loss of soil and food quality, soil threats such as erosion and compaction etc. The addition of pesticides and insecticides to ensure good crop production is another trend which has been followed over the past years. The chemical-based fertilization will damage the normal texture and biological activity of cultivated soils. The most important reason for a common man to respect the soil resource is due to its potential in food production.
Food security is one of the major objectives of all the nations in the world. Scientific studies on human health has proved that the unchecked and continuous use of pesticides and insecticides reaching humans through food is detrimental to human health. Hence the world is turning into the view of ‘attaining food security without compromising quality’. For this, organic farming is being popularized in various regions to meet the world food demands. India, as a developing nation, is also promoting organic agriculture through a variety of schemes and policies. One of the promoters in organic farming is the State of Kerala, located in South India. The land available for farming is decreasing due to increased demand of land for construction activities to satisfy the needs of growing population.But the region has recently developed an interest in organic farming through many government initiatives.
The organic farming in Kerala is in a developing state and needs further improvements through scientific approach like soil testing and land management. Other areas like marketing, organic branding, certification and trade needto be addressed as well. This problem is faced by many urban areas in Kerala, and Kochi city is one of them. In the light of more frequent natural calamities due to climate change, the scientific agricultural land management along with establishment of proper value based cultivation and trade chains can help the state to develop into a self-sufficient organic farming area. For this soil testing methods, assessment of cultivated soils for pesticides and heavy metals need to be developed which can be cost effective and accessible to farmers.
Additionally the region also needs sustainable soil management and agroforestry practice solutions to tackle the recent challenges like soil erosion and reduction in soil quality for maintaining the sustainability of soils. Framing proper soil management measures at regional levels will serve as a good tool to solve this problems. The land and cultivation management initiatives followed by other regions like China and Europe can help to find best ways to ensure the sustainability of food production and soil quality. Hence Knowledge@ Terra can be used as an instrument for seeking solutions to problems of the region through mediating scientific and practical steps for regional soil quality management from international experience, collaborations and field based trainings.