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Soil: a key resource and at risk

Soil: a key resource and at risk


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By Juan Manuel Repetto

(SLT-FAUBA) We do not breathe or drink it, nor does it shelter us, but together with air, water and temperature, the soil constitutes one of the main resources for life. It provides us with food, clothing, shelter, fuel and even recreational environments. It also stores and purifies water, reduces pollutants and recycles the nutrients necessary for crop growth.

In order to raise awareness about its importance for food security and the environment, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) declared 2015 as the International Year of Soils. In our country, from the Argentine Association of Soil Sciences (AACS) and the universities called to take care of it.

"There are few regions in the world with as much fertility and natural wealth as the Humid Pampas. Furthermore, our soils have been under agriculture for a few years, unlike those of Europe, for example, which have more than 2000 years of agricultural history. This it means that we still have time to do something for them, "said Diego Cosentino, president of the AACS and professor of Soil Science at the Faculty of Agronomy of the UBA (FAUBA), to the site of scientific dissemination On Earth.

However, he warned that every day in the world 2.5 hectares of land are covered with cement due to urban growth. And in the field some practices that were used for many years, such as conventional tillage, favored erosion and the loss of carbon in the soils in many productive regions.

Miguel Taboada, director of Soils at INTA and principal investigator at CONICET, agreed that "the soils of the Pampean Region are among the most fertile in the world. In fact, they are the object of envy in other countries of the world where, in general, production cultivation is done on poorer quality soils.

"But we should not be confused - he clarified -. This situation led to a large part of the exploitation carried out in the 20th century affecting that natural fertility and many of these soils have lost it. Perhaps the main cause was the use of very aggressive tillage elements, that today has been minimized. "

The arrival of direct seeding to crop production meant a respite for soils. "It was very beneficial because it managed to stop the degradation processes, by not removing them and leaving them more protected. Before we had erosion rates of 50 tn / ha / year and today we are below 10", said Taboada.

For her part, Carina Álvarez, secretary of the AACS and researcher in the chair of Fertility and Fertilizers at FAUBA, added that currently "85% of the grains in Argentina are produced under direct sowing. We are the country that produces the highest proportion of agriculture is done in zero tillage and the third in number of hectares ". And he warned that one of the pending debts is to increase the replenishment of the nutrients that leave the soil with each harvest.


Warning lights

The researchers coincide in pointing out that today there are some yellow and red lights in agriculture, mainly due to the soy monoculture and the lack of replenishment of soil nutrients, which add to the increasingly widespread questions regarding the use of agrochemicals, in particular herbicides.

Monoculture causes very long periods of time in which there are no living roots, and in soybeans or cotton, for example, they leave the soils uncovered because they generate a low amount of residues that protect the soil from erosion between harvest and planting. "All this makes the soils very subject to carbon losses and tend to compaction," said Taboada, who is also a teacher at FAUBA, and warned: "Another issue is that we are entering into a nutrient imbalance. less than is extracted and that is impoverishing the fertility of the soils ".

"Our soils were very rich and enhanced the yield of our crops. But harvest after harvest many of the nutrients were leaving the system and there was a point where it was necessary to start replenishing them from fertilization, the biological fixation of nitrogen (proper of legumes) and the fertilizer, "said Álvarez. "This awareness began to be present in recent years: return the fertility that we are withdrawing harvest after harvest," he said.

"Today there are fertilization models that are used to apply what is necessary to produce the yield we are looking for, without exceeding ourselves, because otherwise there are nutrients in the soil that can be lost, go to water courses and generate pollution," he explained.

Climate change factor

"Soil science is also closely related to climate change, because soil has the function of capturing carbon, storing it, and preventing it from being released into the atmosphere as carbon dioxide, which is the main greenhouse gas," Cosentino said.

According to Taboada, expert responsible for the inventory of greenhouse gas emissions from the agricultural sector of our country before the IPCC, the soil plays a double role in the face of climate change: "On the one hand, it is the main carbon store of nature in ecosystems (although deforestation and the expansion of the agricultural frontier would not be collaborating with this process). On the other hand, it emits greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide and others whose composition in the atmosphere is much lower but whose power to absorb the Radiation from the sun is much higher, such as nitrous oxide (which has a heating power 295 times higher than carbon dioxide) and methane (25 times higher).

Climate change is also causing extreme phenomena, such as severe storms and droughts, which increase wind and water erosion, and increase the need to implement practices that tend to protect them.

Faculty of Agronomy -UBA


Video: AGMAPS Decision Support Tool for Soil and Water Conservation (July 2022).


Comments:

  1. Orlege

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  2. Douk

    And me........

  3. Von

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  4. Majdy

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  5. Justis

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