Wednesday, March 1, 2023

Understanding soil health management under different land uses

Soil is one of the planet's great reservoirs of vast biodiversity. It provides a habitat for plants, animals, and microorganisms and acts as a buffer against pollutants that safeguards the purity of groundwater. Additionally, because of the massive amounts of carbon, it collects and stores, the soil is essential in combating climate change and mitigating its impacts. 

Thus, food security is only attainable with healthy soils. However, anthropogenic activities are endangering and deteriorating grounds all around the world. As Franklin D. Roosevelt once said, "The nation that destroys its soil, destroys itself.”

To educate and disseminate the importance of soil properties, conservation, and management to the youth,  The International Rice Research Institute South Asia Regional Centre (IRRI-SARC) in Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh conducted training at Sri Sri University Cuttack, Odisha from 1 to 3 of December 2022. 

Thirty participants from all over India participated in the event with experts from various institutes as resource persons. They include Prof. Antaryami Mishra from the Odisha University of Agriculture & Technology Bhubaneswar, Dr. Sheetal Sharma from IRRI, Prof.  Bhat and Mr. Satyajeet Arya from Sri Sri University Cuttack, and Dr. Ajay Kumar Mishra from IRRI-SARC. 

The experts shared their knowledge and experiences with the participants and discussed the basics of soil properties, soil mechanisms, and management practices. They also discussed the significance of understanding soil profile under different landuses (Agriculture, agroforestry, and forestry) and presented the following benefits:

  • Hands-on learning: Soil judging contests provide a hands-on learning experience where participants can apply their theoretical knowledge of soil science in the field. They get the opportunity to analyze soil characteristics such as texture, structure, color, and drainage, which can deepen their understanding of soil properties and their relationships.
  • Team building: Participating in soil judging contests involves teamwork and collaboration, as students work together to collect soil samples and analyze them. This can help them develop important communication and leadership skills that can be beneficial for their future careers.
  • Networking: Soil judging contests provide a platform for students to interact with other like-minded individuals, including peers, instructors, and professionals. This can help them build valuable connections and expand their network, which can be beneficial for future job opportunities or research collaborations.
  • Career development: Participating in soil judging contests can be an excellent addition to a student's resume, as it demonstrates their interest and knowledge in soil science. This can be particularly beneficial for students pursuing a career in the field of agriculture, environmental science, or geology.
  • Research opportunities: Soil judging contests can also provide opportunities for students and researchers to collect data and conduct research on soil properties and characteristics. This can contribute to the scientific community's knowledge and understanding of soil science and may lead to further research opportunities.

In the field exercise in Chargarhia Village, Dampada Block the participants were taught to evaluate the variations between three land use profiles using the methodology of the Food and Agriculture Organization and global soil information from the International Soil Reference and Information Centre. The participants presented their observations on the soil profiles to the resources faculty.

The ultimate aim of soil restoration interventions through different awareness programs and innovative sustainable technologies is to motivate young people to disseminate knowledge to their rural communities and change unsustainable soil management practices. 

Contributed by Ajay Kumar Mishra, Senior Associate Scientist - Soil Science and Pidikiti Pavithra, Research Intern at IRRI-SARC, Varanasi, Satyajeet Arya, Director, Sri Sri University, Cuttack, Odisha, and Sheetal Sharma, Senior Scientist - Soil Science and Research Lead - Digital Tools


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